Babes in the woods; how young is too young?

We are often asked by parents, what age is our toddler group suitable for? My reply is from birth upwards.

To help a baby’s brain develop we need to give them plenty of opportunities to experience a variety of environmental stimuli, and the great outdoors has these in abundance. The natural environment is rich in sensory stimuli and engages all the babies’ senses. Playing in nature allows children to be exposed to different smells, sounds, colours, temperatures, textures, and movements.

In an environment where there is an abundance of stimuli, babies are constantly building new neural pathways to process the information they are receiving. Their brains are processing lots of information at the same time and must store, use, and connect this new information in order to develop and learn.

Here are some ways that the natural environment can stimulate a developing baby:

  • A woodland is full of a variety of different sounds and this taps into a baby’s natural alertness and curiosity.  The rapid changes in light filtered by trees stimulate babies’ vision, which in turn stimulates the brain.
  • There are so many different smells associated with a woodland environment, trees, bark, mud, rain, flowers, earth etc to stimulate babies senses. This encourages them to investigate the source of the smell and how to explore them.
  • Babies learn about their surroundings through touch and although there may be safety concerns with young children exploring objects with their mouths, careful supervision can offer babies the opportunity for a rich sensory surrounding.

Attending toddler sessions in the woods provides a rich, nurturing, and age-appropriate challenging experience for the individual child allowing them the opportunity to develop at their own pace. Following the forest school ethos that children are exposed to regular sessions that take place all year round, taking in all the seasons, and are based on play and exploration, babies will benefit as much from this as a mobile toddler.  

Author: Debbie Miller, Deputy Head of Forest Schools

Date: Wednesday 29th March 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.