My baby was born in the middle of winter when the white blanket covered everything in sight; the trees, the roofs, and the grounds. Now with summer approaching, I can’t wait to let my LO out on the lush green grass for sensory play and some fresh air.
I am all for nature and unlimited outdoor fun and sure we all know that the grass is a great place for kids and even more fun for picnics and playdates.
But still, I worry, can my very young baby (6 mo) play on the grass? How to make grass play fun and safe for her? What are the SOPs of grass play for babies?
I wore my research glasses and sat down to do some serious research. Stick with me to learn more.
Can babies play on the grass?
Of course yes, but with a little care. Outdoor play is not just fun but recommended.
AAP strongly advises to take children of all ages outside as it is beneficial on so many levels; physical, mental, developmental. So, by all means, go for it. But keep the following tips in mind.
How to keep grass play safe for the kids?
Follow these steps to make grass play fun and safe.
When you are taking your baby for the very first time on grass, you need to be careful they are not overstimulated. Babies interact with the world with their senses.
Grass can be very stimulating for the little ones due to its different texture ( spikes and all) and smell, nothing like anything they have played with before.
As babies are extremely sensitive, you should take it very slowly, especially when you think your baby is not enjoying it.
Put the baby on a blanket or rug at first, instead of putting them directly on grass.
Let them play and explore with their hands initially rather than going all the way in by foot, arms, and legs. That could very well result in sensory overload, more on that later.
Sat them down somewhere close to the flat ground or a clear sanded area, so they can go there whenever they want to.
Look out for
- Swinging and flaying of arms and legs
If they are doing any of those things ,that might be your cue to pack up and head inside.
Look out for poisonous plants:
This point cannot be overemphasized. Check with your local poison helpline to get an idea of the poisonous plants in your area and stay clear of them.
If you are taking a baby in your own yard and you have any of these plants, get them removed immediately.
Be sure about the pesticides and herbicides:
It’s good that the grass is treated with pesticides and herbicides but what’s more important is that you do not take out the baby in freshly sprayed grass.
Pesticides are way more dangerous for your baby than pests. Make sure it’s been at least 48 hours since the grass was sprayed on.
Also make sure the grass is clean of any wood chips, glass shards, or sharp twigs.
Avoid bugs and nasties:
Mosquitoes, bugs, and other unpleasantries are more than just an annoyance. Mosquitoes are nobody’s friends.
Keep your baby off of the most loved places of these nasties such as trees, water areas, bushes, and shrubs.
Dress them in light clothes, better full-sleeved and full-legged ones for a day on the grass.
You might also want to make sure the grass is nicely trimmed because mosquitoes like to hide in the long grass.
If the baby is older than 6 months you can also apply a little baby-friendly bug repellent. Put some on your hands and rub it over your baby’s exposed skin while avoiding eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Wash it with mild soap as soon as you are indoors.
Steer clear of the bees:
Bees’ stings can hurt but what’s worse is the allergy that some babies might have to them. If you find your baby is allergic to the bee sting, take action immediately to prevent any serious effects.
Remove the sting right away, using your finger, coin, or even a key. Do it lightly and quickly before the poison spreads. Then take the little one to be seen by a doc.
Sunblock or not?
Babies have very sensitive skin that can get easily sunburned. But still its better to not put any sunblock on babies younger than 6 months as they contain chemicals not suitable for an infant.
Instead FDA and AAP recommend you avoid direct sun exposure altogether, if that’s not possible , shield them by using shades, hats, and umbrellas.
For children above 6 months of age, you can use sunscreens that are designed for babies. Avoid day hours from 10 to 4 where the sunlight is intense.
When can babies crawl on grass？
As soon as they are crawling! Most babies start to crawl somewhere between 7 to 8 months.
It would be nice to let them out on a nice trimmed lawn. And let them crawl, scoot, roll, whatever they want to do really.
Clothed them in a full-sleeved, full-legged dress so the grass doesn’t cut into their skins.
You might also want to see if the baby is allergic to grass or not. If yes, then keep the time short and bathe them afterward.
Why babies don’t like grass?
It’s not so much about liking the grass as it is about feeling comfortable on it. There is a thing called ‘sensory overload’. It means the baby is overstimulated and completely overwhelmed.
Many things that are completely normal for an adult might be difficult to handle for a baby, for instance, entering a room full of people, the sound of the blender, or sitting on the grass.
When babies are subjected to more stimuli than they can tackle, they might become agitated, cranky, fussy, tired, or sleepy.
The same happens when you take them to the gardens. The rough, uneven, tickling, and sometimes wet grass can be a little jarring for the little ones.
If you suspect it is getting too much for the wee one, you might want to take things a little slow.
Should I let my baby play on the grass?
This question has been discussed in community groups of BabyCenter and Whattoexpect.
While some parents there weren’t sure how this could even be a question (duh… it’s nature, leave them to their own devices), others were a tad bit worried about the nasties that might be out there in the gardens.
I would say watch out for animal poop and hazards like fire ants and snakes but do take your baby out to play with grass, it is immensely beneficial for them.
Ideas for grass play:
Once your baby has become comfortable on the grass and enjoys the feel of it, enhance your game of sensory play by introducing activities on the grass.
Place toys within a short distance:
Place their favorite toys at an arm’s length and watch the little ones reach for them.
The grass is a great place to let your babies have that much-coveted water fun. Place a bowl of water in front of them and let them put their hands in it. Most babies love making splashes and getting wet.
You will be spared of the clean-ups, babies will have the time of their lives, while the grass will get its water. A win-win?
Take any type of grains ( rice, beans, peas) in a container and put that on grass. Let the wee ones do all sorts of exploring. It’s a very stimulating play.
Bring a colorful book and sit on the grass with the baby for some quality and fun reading time.
In a nutshell
You will be amazed how a little time around nature can do wonders for the growth and development of your baby. It’s natural to worry about those bugs and bees but don’t let that stop you from letting your baby out and about on the grass.
While grass is great for stimulating the senses of babies, overstimulation is always a bad idea. The goal is for them to enjoy, so introduce them to grass gradually.
Don’t rush and expect your baby will love the grass right off the bat. Some will, while others, may need some time to get comfortable.
But if you introduce the grass rightly even the most avid grass haters will be digging up dirt, chasing ants, and crawling over it in no time.
Is artificial grass safe for babies?
It is widely believed that fake grass is a low-maintenance, convenient substitute for natural grass and suitable for kids because it is non-toxic and non-allergic.
However, you can not brush away the findings of experiments conducted by an Australian mom.
She measured the temperatures of natural grass, concrete, and fake turf with her infrared thermometer, and the results were shocking. Turns out the fake turf was almost double the temperature of the other two.
In her words, “If you don’t want to have lawn, don’t have lawn at all”.
Also in her words, “I read comments from parents about the glue in their kids’ sneakers melting from the heat on fake turf ovals. They’re plastic, they’re made from petrochemicals and we shouldn’t have kids playing on that.”
Can babies crawl on the grass?
By all means yes! They can play, lie down, crawl, and do all sorts of fun activities. Just make sure they are introduced to grass slowly. Once they are accustomed to the feel of it, they will have a blast out there.
Can babies play in the dirt?
There has been a lot of discussion on this lately. Some of us are major germaphobes that have a hard time allowing that. But the truth is, we are doing more harm than good by not letting them explore nature.
The book ‘Let them eat dirt’ tells us how babies’ immunity is dwindling in a super clean amd highly disinfected environment.
So, don’t fret even if a little bit of dirt gets inside their mouths. But make sure that dirt is somewhat clean and free of animal excretions.
Can babies eat grass?
Babies will put anything in their mouths, even grass.
If small grass gets inside your baby’s mouth and he seems fine, then probably it’s fine.
Grass longer than 6 cm could stick in the throat. So be careful with it.
Eating grass is not that dangerous but not healthy either.
According to Dr Arabella Sargent,
“If your child has eaten some grass, or a twig less than 6cm long, it probably isn’t anything to worry about.”