Having a new baby throws everything you knew out of the window.
You have to find yourself again, how your baby fits into this new world and discover who your baby is. It is wonderful but a challenge too.
One thing that can really help you do all of this as a new parent is to embrace nature. Being in nature and even surrounded by natural items/imagery not only improves your mood but also theirs. Happy babies make for happy parents and vise versa!
Research has been conducted on the mental and even physical benefits of being in a forest. 'Shinrin Yoku' originates from Japan and translates as 'Forest Bathing'. It involves immersing yourself in the forest (not literally bathing in it) and achieving an inner peace. Research on it has shown how it not only calms anxiety and depression, but also reduces blood pressure, improves immune system functionality and more, so why wouldn't you do it.
But from a new parent perspective there really is more!
Planning a daily trip to the local park or forest to explore the trees and play in the grass can help build a routine, which as a new parent you may be struggling to achieve. From there, you then achieve all of those benefits and feel so much more prepared to deal with the emotional challenges (like lack of sleep!) that being a new parent can bring.
And you are helping your baby too, here are just 5 benefits of being in nature for babies, but there are many more:
1) Being in Nature can lay the foundation for learning and language development.
As you walk along in a park/forest describe what you see, hear, smell, even touch. What you experience in nature can be an opportunity for learning even at a young age and gives you something to communicate to your baby about when sometimes you have no clue where to start. It is certainly more interesting describing to a baby the wind moving through the trees rather than how the ironing is going...
2) Creates healthy sleep patterns.
Fresh air makes babies sleep... It is everything about being outdoors. It could be the cold/hot temperatures, the excitement, the sensory experience or just the fresh air but being outside is know to make babies sleep. Have a more consistent nap pattern, certainly if you have the daily routine of visiting a natural environment at the same time every day which then results in a set nap time, and hopefully a nighttime sleep pattern too.
3) Improves sensory skills.
A natural environment is sensory. There are things to see such as falling leaves, which is great for eye tracking, there are things to hear like birds singing, things to smell like flowers and things to touch like bark on trees. Going barefoot on grass is a great sensory experience that also stimulates the foot muscles too and just walking with your aid in a forest helps develop balance and muscle control due to the uneven surface.
4) Grows a love of nature.
Teaching children to love and respect nature and thus be more responsible and sustainable in their decisions is made easier if they feel connected to nature through visiting nature regularly. They will understand the importance of nature, how connected the forest is, and the impact of humans on nature just by being immersed in nature.
5) Develops motor skills.
As mentioned baby's eyes are able to track movements in nature and then the arms and hands, even legs often respond in large jerky movements to follow the movements building gross motor skills which will lead on to crawling and then walking. Fine motor skills and the pincer grip can be developed by letting baby pick up natural objects such as sticks, pine cones and stones, just be mindful of small objects going into baby's mouth.
I hope this article has shown you the reasons why going into nature is useful and beneficial for you as a new parent and for your new baby.
Sometimes it is difficult to know where to start to actually get out of the house and do it, so I would encourage you to pick a day, check that the weather is going to be nice, prepare your snacks and even clothing such as foot wear and coat for you/baby before hand or even the night before so all you have to think about is getting out of the door and heading to the park/forest and just go with the plan of walking to a certain part, maybe take duck food and go just to feed the ducks.
From there you can build up your experiences so get outside and start enjoying all of the benefits for both you and baby of being in nature :)