Baby's First Year · Parenting

Benefits of taking your child on a discovery walk

Parent taking a walk outdoors in the winter pushing a stroller with toddler and older child holding hands walking beside the stroller

As a Public Health Nurse working in the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program, I am asked every day: Is it safe to take my baby outside?

My answer is YES, I recommend you go outside for a discovery walk (everyday if you can).

Here’s my top 5 benefits of a discovery walk: 

  1. Opportunity for new learning
    Babies and young children love to pay attention to new things. When you are out on a discovery walk, talk about the birds that you hear and the noises that they make. Talk about the vehicles they see and what they do. Let them touch the snow and describe how it feels. 
  2. Improves mental well being
    The research is in – walking can improve mood and feelings of mental well-being. What parent of a toddler who has been cooped up inside all day could not benefit from more feelings of well-being. If you need an extra dose head to the park where being surrounded by nature can increase the effects!
  3. Gets us moving
    For many of us the pandemic has caused us to sit more and move less. . A brisk walk can help us meet our weekly physical activity requirements of 150 minutes. Getting our young children out walking in the snow can help children use up some of their never ending energy!
  4. Improves sleep
    Physical activity reduces stress and helps us sleep better. Make a brisk walk part of your family’s routine for improved sleep for everyone!
  5. Changes our view
    Four walls can feel overwhelming when we spend all day stuck inside. A brief walk outside can help shift our view and make the day feel more manageable. If a walk becomes part of the family routine, it can be a time in the day that everyone looks forward to!

Walking safely outdoors:

  1. Choose a time in your neighbourhood when it is less busy to venture outdoors
  2. Only walk with members of your own household
  3. Keep your distance from others outside of your own household. Wear a mask if you can’t physically distance from others (like in the elevator or common areas of your building)
  4. Wear proper footwear and dress for the weather
  5. Wash your hands when you return home

If you have questions about taking care of baby, speak to a Public Health Nurse on eChat or call (416) 338-7600.

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2 thoughts on “Benefits of taking your child on a discovery walk

  1. “This is the most important job we have to do as humans and as citizens … If we offer classes in auto mechanics and civics, why not parenting? A lot of what happens to children that’s bad derives from ignorance … Parents go by folklore, or by what they’ve heard, or by their instincts, all of which can be very wrong.”
    —Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

    Basic child development science/rearing should be learned long before the average person has their first child.

    By not teaching this to high school students, is it not as though societally we’re implying that anyone can comfortably enough go forth with unconditionally bearing children with whatever minute amount, if any at all, of such vital knowledge they happen to have acquired over time?

    I know I didn’t know until I researched this topic for the specifics.

    If we’re to proactively avoid the eventual dreadingly invasive conventional reactive means of intervention due to dysfunctional familial situations as a result of flawed rearing—that of the government forced removal of children from the latter environment—we then should be willing to try an unconventional means of proactively preventing future dysfunctional family situations: Teach our young people the science of how a child’s mind develops and therefor its susceptibilities to flawed parenting.

    Many people, including child development academics, would say that we owe our future generations of children this much, especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter.

    [Frank Sterle Jr.]

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