OUT THERE: Ensure each day (preferably several times a day) that you make time to head outdoors with your child.
OUT THERE: Ensure each day (preferably several times a day) that you make time to head outdoors with your child. FamVeld | Thinkstock

PARENT PICKLES: Get out, it's vital for development

OUTSIDE play is important to your child's development. It gives them the opportunity to explore their surroundings, test their physical limits, express themselves creatively and build self-confidence and play their favourite games.

Outside play is great because it provides them with extra freedom in open space.

Outside play involves healthy physical activity, whether it's running and jumping around or throwing and kicking a ball.

So how do you encourage your child to play outside?

Set aside time outdoors

It's important to actually make the time to play outside. Ensure each day (preferably several times a day) that you make time to head outdoors with your child.

If you have lots of outdoor space in your yard, this should be rather easy to facilitate, but if you don't you will need to plan visits to a park, playground, beach or other open public space.

Walking to a public space will also give you the chance to teach your child road and pedestrian safety.

Babies and toddlers

You can start with your baby by incorporating an outdoor setting during tummy time.

Use a blanket and allow them to watch tree leaves move and listen to the birds.

As they start to crawl, let them do so outside.

Outdoor furniture and natural obstacles provide great adventures for a new crawler - just make sure you keep an eye on them!

Once they are on their feet, you should start encouraging them to throw and chase balls, push toys, run and jump, engage in water play with mud or any other safe outdoor activity. Again supervision is needed.

As they get older

As your toddler gets older and hits pre-school age you should encourage a broader range of outdoor play.

This includes hide and seek, playing tag, kicking the ball to each other, climbing trees, crawling through tunnels, building and creating with outdoor objects etc.

Don't protect your child too much

Supervision is important with children but you also want to encourage curiosity and independence.

If you protect them too much it will stifle their sense of adventure.

That means sometimes your child will cop some bumps and bruises. It may even end up in tears, but you shouldn't stop them from running, jumping and climbing because of that risk.

Limiting the risks your child is exposed to actually creates bigger problems in the long-term as it stifles their ability to recognise danger or to recognise their own physical limits. This can lead to more serious injuries.

Reference: http://raisingchildren.net.au/

NEXT WEEK: Outdoor play for babies and toddlers


Our WBHHS child health team is available to support local families. You can visit the team at the Margaret Rose Centre, 312 Bourbong St, Bundaberg.

Alternatively, call your local WBHHS child health team on:

Bundaberg - 4150 2700

Childers - 4192 1133

Gin Gin - 4157 2222

Gayndah - 4161 3571

Mundubbera - 4161 3571

Monto - 4166 9300

Biggenden - 4127 6400

Eidsvold - 4165 7100

Even if you just want to have a chat and a bit of reassurance, the WBHHS child health team is here to help.

Local Partners