Outdoor playmats and other kids’ accessories for garden play are a brilliant way to teach your kids essential skills they will only acquire from being exposed to nature.
Babies and toddlers benefit tremendously from outdoor play for their healthy development overall. A child’s natural environment is a rich and engaging sensory experience for them. Fresh air, sunshine, and the textures of their new world heighten their sensory perceptions, helping them learn coordination, motor skills, and intuitive learning. The opportunity to crawl, run, and explore outdoors aids in developing both their minds and bodies.
Playing outdoors encourages curiosity about objects and creatures, and promotes problem-solving, and creativity as your child encounters new sights, sounds, and challenges. Outdoor activities also foster strong relationships with the people they’re surrounded by.
The Benefits of Play and Sensory Exploration for Infants
Infants and toddlers are compelled to interact with their parents or friends much more when they are faced with the unfamiliarity of being outside the home. This fosters essential interpersonal skills like communication, sharing, and cooperation. Emotional well-being also improves as they’re forced to navigate scary challenges with minimal support. Once a little one overcomes these hurdles it promotes a sense of freedom in them, reducing stress, and putting them in an overall good mood. In short, playing outdoors is crucial for healthily building a child’s personality.
Getting exercise isn’t the only physical benefit of playing outside. Sun exposure assists in synthesizing vitamin D, crucial for bone health. Being exposed to certain bacteria and microbes strengthens their immune systems. Most often, children are not exposed to them indoors.
If your child refuses to go outside or seems afraid of their surroundings at first, consider putting them on an outdoor playmat where they can observe the world from the safety of being seated. When they begin to realize that the world around them is more exciting than scary, they’re likely to wander out of their safe space on the mat to explore.
Observe your child carefully without letting them out of your sight. You will see how much joy it brings your little one to be in nature.
Choosing The Right Playmat for Your Child
Safe, Non-Toxic, and Easy-to-Clean:
When picking out a play mat for your child for outdoor use, the first thing to consider is the materials it’s made of. Rubber and other synthetic materials are quite easy to clean and maintain. However, ensure that they are made with 100% child-safe, nontoxic materials before purchasing them. EVC foam and PVC can be unsafe for your child.
Food grade Polyethylene foam or Polyurethane leather outdoor play mats are perfectly non-toxic and are ideal for long-term use. They are also super easy to clean up due to their low overall absorption on their surfaces.
Heat and UV Resistance:
In sunny and warm weather like in most of Australia, non-heat-resistant mats can become uncomfortably hot, potentially causing burns or discomfort to kids playing on them. Heat-resistant mats remain cool for long periods, preventing such accidents and ensuring a safe outdoor play experience.
A playmat must be heat resistant not only to prevent overheating from direct sun exposure but also to provide a thick barrier between the floor and your child. A heat and UV-resistant outdoor play mat will be a safe barrier between the heated ground and your child.
Cushioning and Padding
A play mat’s padding is not just a layer of foam; it’s quintessential for safeguarding your baby’s tender moments of discovery. So, while your little one ventures into the vastness of nature, the padding beneath serves to protect their delicate palms and knees. In times of falls and tumbles, it can give your little one a soft landing.
Outdoor playmats can be padded with cork, silicone, non-toxic foams, cotton, or hybrid surfaces. When purchasing a playmat it is important to consider the level of shock absorption provided by each material. This is what should determine the ideal thickness for each variety. A cork playmat would provide more cushioning with less thickness than a cotton one but may be hard and uncomfortable. Therefore, consider buying an outdoor playmat made of several different layers of cushioning.
Tummy Time & Beyond: How to Use Your Outdoor Play Mats for Different Stages of Development
At about 3 months, the play mat’s padding cradles them as they raise their heads during tummy time, strengthening their neck and shoulder muscles. The colourful pictures and decorations, alongside the vibrant outdoors, are invitations to reach out and grasp, training their hand-eye coordination.
At 6 months babies begin rolling over and sitting up. It’s a safe space where they can tumble and learn without fear. The play mat is a safe space where you can put your baby down next to you while you enjoy a picnic or visit a park with your family.
By the time they’re 1 year old, the play mats become launchpads for crawling and walking. The padding cushions their knees and hands as they attempt to stand up. It’s also a learning ground where they engage with interactive features on the mat such as animal shapes, the alphabet, or numbers.
Throughout your child’s growth, the play mat is a constant that can be adapted to their changing needs and abilities. Most parents keep multiple play mats around the house to serve various babysitting necessities. One that fits the living room floor for when guests come over may not be the best for use outside. When picking out a playmat for outdoor use, consider climate, safety, and whether it’s safe for your baby.