It’s summertime!! And if you have a little one in the house, this is the perfect opportunity to make some fun new memories! If you’re looking for best summer activities for babies and toddlers, here are some of my absolute favorites.
With naptime and feeding schedule, it’s easy to feel a little cooped up when you have a baby in the house. At least, that’s how I felt as a new mom. After another beautiful child, I realize how incredibly important it is to take my girls on period outings. For me, for them, for everyone!
While there are a few special considerations to keep in mind when you’re planning your baby’s summer activities, you can totally explore the world with your littles. In fact, exposing your little guy to new and exciting environments and activities is an important part of development.
Below are a few of my favorite baby activities to do outdoors, at home, and everywhere in between. Most of these activities are low-budget, and all of them are laid-back and gentle enough for your baby to enjoy (or at least not freak out).
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I am a huge fan of doing things outdoors with my girls. Not only does being outside stimulate your baby’s senses, but it can dramatically improve your mental health as well (hello, vitamin D!). Not to mention, most outdoor activities are usually very, very low-budget.
Whether it’s a half a mile or two, taking your little one on a beautiful nature walk exposes them to new sights, scents, and sounds. Hiking is usually free and you can go at your own pace. And, generally speaking, babies love snuggle time. It really is a win-win situation.
When my oldest was tiny, my husband and I used to visit the local mountain bike trail. I would strap her into our baby carrier (my favorite was the ErgoBaby because of the awesome support) and we’d take a nice walk through the woods.
If you have a clingy baby (like my second) this is a great activity to get involved in!
A word of caution though: make sure your child is protected against the sun, kept cool, and you bring along supplies for a feeding and diaper change.
Picnics in the Park
Sometimes it’s just nice to get out of the house, you know? Local parks offer pavilions that double as a free place to eat and a private sanctuary for a nursing session.
Plus, introducing your baby to playground equipment is probably one of the most fun activities ever. If your little one is toddling around, you can show them how to climb the steps. Before my daughter could walk, we had a ton of fun swinging and sliding with her on my lap.
Picnics also offer the perfect opportunity to practice some tummy time!
Hit the Beach
Some parents avoid the beach like the plague, which I totally get. It’s hot, crowded, and small kids seem to either hate it or love it. However, with a little bit of planning, the beach can be the perfect spot to gently introduce your baby to water and capture some adorable photos.
First and foremost, you need to prepare. Try to go to the beach in the morning, when your baby’s energy levels will be at his highest and the crowds hasn’t peaked. Secondly, always pack for the occasion.
A few essentials for the beach:
- Baby beach tent: Highly, highly recommend for the beach. Even with sunscreen, your little guy can get sunburned real quick (not to mention dehydrated). Bonus points if you buy one with a spot for waterplay like the picture above.
- Sunscreen (My daughters suffered from baby eczema, so I always like to go the natural sunscreen route)
- Diaper bag packed with spare clothes, bottles, formula, diapers, wipes, towels, and a nursing cover
- Water (for you or your baby if they’re older than 6 months)
- Water Resistant blanket: look, this isn’t a necessity, but it’s worth its weight in gold. Gone are the days of hanging out on a flimsy beach towel. The little unicorn blankets are thick and big enough to keep your baby safely sequestered from the sun
- Sand toys
Speaking of water, even if you don’t have a beach nearby, you can introduce your little one to fun water play. You can run through sprinklers together, play with a water table, or go all out and purchase an inflatable pool. As your journey through parenting progresses, you’ll find that a kiddie pool is one of the best investments you’ll ever make!
You can also fill up a clear storage container, fill it with bath toys or kitchen utensils, and have some fun on the back porch. Add some kid-safe bubbles and you’re good to go!
We like to visit the local splash pads. Morning or dusk tends to be the best times to go, which is before and after the afternoon big kid rush. Keep in mind that sometimes fountains can be a little overwhelming for some personality types. My daughters were (and still are) a little nervous around the waterfalls. However, they were endlessly entertained by the ground sprinklers.
I love gardening, and one of my favorite things in the world is to share that passion with my daughters. I started teaching them about plants since they were about 6 months old (during casual strolls through the local gardens.)
Now, they are always my reliable helpers in the garden.
You can effortlessly create a sensory garden in your backyard. Focus on planting flowers and other plants with varying textures, colors, and smells.
A few of my favorites:
- Lambs Ear: This is such a fun plant. It’s so soft–just like the name implies! They’re also incredibly hardy and easy to maintain.
- Lavender: Great for decoration, making perfumes, and letting your little one smell!
- Vegetables: Even as a toddler, my daughters seemed to feel a sense of pride when they plucked their prized tomatoes at the end of the season.
- Butterfly Bush: For obvious reasons. Kids love butterflies and the hummingbirds drawn to these plants!
Summer-Themed Things to Do Indoors
Mommy and Me swim classes are the best! Many local community pools and YMCAs offer them. Most classes only last for about 20-30 minutes and focus on giving mom a light workout and building water confidence for your little one. Mommy and Me swim classes also pave the way to independent swimming between 24-34 months.
To make this experience positive for you and your baby, I recommend keeping a couple things in mind:
- Don’t be dismayed if baby doesn’t like it the first time. The swimming pool is so different than the bath tub. The lighting, the people, and the scent is completely foreign.
- Go slow. Some babies do not take to water very well. If your baby is wailing, don’t be embarrassed about calling it a day. The other moms and instructors get it!
- Definitely do swim diapers. Like, don’t even try going into the water with regular diapers. It ruins the experience for you and baby.
Nature-based Sensory Play
As adults, we take for granted the every day miracle of nature. I guarantee your baby hasn’t though!
The next time you’re in the woods, collect a few items for your baby to feel and look at. Add it to a box for some nature-based sensory play.
Sensory play encourages fine and gross motor skills development. Babies practice grasping, pouring, stacking, and handling objects. All of this is great for developing hand-eye coordination. Not to mention, sensory play improves physical movement, balance, and body awareness.
A few things you might consider collecting are twigs, rocks (but big enough that your baby can’t swallow them), reeds of grass, seed, leaves, flowers, sand, and sea shells.
Baby-friendly crafts and art projects
There are actually tons of crafts you can do with your baby that are safe and low-prep. For the lowest of the low-prep, simply buy summer-themed water-paint books. Basically you give your baby a wet paint brush and let them go to town. No mess and they feel like Picasso.
When my daughter was around a year old, we loved to make suncatchers. Really all you need is a paper plate, contact paper, scissors, and tape…plus your favorite summer-themed items (flower petals, leaves, etc.) This tutorial from Coffee, Cups, and Crayons is super easy to modify for a small child.
Here are a couple other crafts you can try:
- Finger painting
- Dot coloring
- Nature Turtle Sticky Wall
- Painting birdhouses
Visit the Pet Store
Low budget and zero tolerance for lines? Two words: Pet Store.
I love taking my girls to the pet store. It’s so much fun to see the various birds and reptilian creatures there. It’s also a great place to teach them different words, like dog food, or rabbit.
The pet stores I’ve gone to usually have birds, cats, dogs, rodents, and ferrets. No lines and no stress!
Go to the Aquarium
Sometimes the zoo is too hot and too busy. The lines are exhausting and, depending on the weather, the animals don’t want to show up for their own show.
Aquariums, however, are air-conditioned, usually much less busy (particularly during the morning hours), and offer really cool educational material for parents. Babies seem to appreciate the tranquil, dark environment much more than the blinding heat of the day.
Summer Activities for Babies FAQ
What age is suitable for outdoor summer activities for babies?
Generally, babies can start enjoying outdoor activities as early as a few months old. However, that’s not to say that your newborn should be completely sequestered from daylight! They are just a little more sensitive than, say, a 6-month-old. With proper precautions, you can take your newborn on wonderful (short) walks too.
How can I ensure my baby’s safety during water play?
Water play is a great way to beat the summer heat!
Go for shallow pools or designated baby pools with appropriate water levels. It’s totally cool to use floaties, but never leave your baby unattended in or near water. Even an inch of water can result in drowning.
Introduce water gradually, making sure they are comfortable and enjoying the experience.
Are there any specific precautions to take when creating a sensory garden?
Ensure that the plants you choose are safe and non-toxic for curious little hands and mouths. Avoid thorny or poisonous plants. Also, watch out for potential allergens and poisons. Many popular soils contain a pinch of fertilizer, which can result in adverse reactions.
I always kept my babies away from the soil. Just in case.
Lastly, don’t forget about critters, such as snakes, spiders, and (if you live in the South like me….) fire ants.
Can I use household items for indoor sensory activities?
Absolutely! Everyday household items can work wonders. From containers filled with different textures like rice or pasta, to exploring different fabrics or kitchen utensils, your creativity is the literal limit.
Just be sure to choose items that are safe for your baby’s age.
How can I choose age-appropriate crafts for my baby?
I’m a big fan of crafts for one-year-olds. It’s a fantastic way to stimulate their creativity! Simple projects like finger painting with non-toxic paints, sensory collages with soft materials, or exploring different textures through safe play dough can be great choices.
What are some sun protection tips for babies during outdoor activities?
I’m glad you asked!
Make sure to dress your baby in lightweight, breathable clothing that covers their skin. Apply baby-safe sunscreen with a high SPF (like 50!) on exposed areas, like their face, hands, and legs. Just avoid those little eyes and mouth.
Keep your little guy in the shade as much as possible, especially during peak sun hours. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to shield their baby-blues.
Lastly, offer them plenty of fluids to keep them hydrated. If your baby is younger than 6 months, make sure to offer an extra nursing session or feeding.
How can I handle bugs and insects during outdoor adventures with my baby?
Aside from that, dress your baby in long sleeves and pants to minimize exposed skin if you can, especially around dusk. If you’re concerned about mosquito bites, consider using a mosquito net over your baby’s stroller or carrier.
How can I keep my baby cool and comfortable during hot summer days?
I am a huge fan of those clippable baby fans. On our visit to Disney World, we discovered the magic of a spray bottle/ fan combo. Now that we have one, I will never go back. If your baby is okay with the occasional mist, it’s absolutely fantastic.
You should also dress your baby in light, breathable clothing. Generally speaking, if you’re hot so is your baby.
When outdoors, seek shade and limit exposure during peak sun hours. Your baby is extremely sensitive to sunlight, even on cloudy days. Always, always use sunscreen.
What Are Your Favorite Summer Activities For Babies?
Summer is a magical time for you and your precious little one to bond, explore, and create beautiful memories together. By engaging in a variety of age-appropriate activities, we can enhance development and their stimulate senses!
I hope these best summer activities for babies gave you some inspiration!
Just remember: take it slow and respect your baby’s feelings. I know how easy it is to feel disappointed or frustrated when your baby doesn’t take to an activity right away. Don’t worry about it! Something will click for your little one eventually. Just be chill about it and have as much fun as you can.
If you have any great ideas for easy summer activities for babies, let me know below! Otherwise, have fun!!