Infancy is a time when children use all their senses – touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell – to learn about their immediate environment. Gardening with your child can open up a whole new world to them: the great outdoors!
Creating a safe environment for children to explore the natural world can help foster a positive relationship between your child and the environment, while strengthening feelings of trust and safety between you and your child.
Babies are curious by nature, and what better way to foster that curiosity than letting them explore a garden? Growing Minds, part of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, has comprised a comprehensive list of how to engage each of the five senses when gardening with your baby, creating a “sensory garden.” Here are a few of our favorites:
- Grow edible plants. Not only will you have peace of mind knowing your garden is baby-safe, but you’ll also be teaching your baby about nutritious diet choices.
- Tip: include garden-grown foods in snack times
- Plant flowers of varying color to create a vibrant scene for your baby, so you can begin teaching them the various colors while they explore
- Tip: Plant flowers that attract butterflies, so that your child can witness these winged-beauties first hand.
- Include a small fountain or bird bath in your garden, which will appeal to the baby’s sense of sound
- Get crafty! You and your tot can make homemade wind chimes and bird feeders to hang in and around your garden.
Remember, for babies it’s not all about planting and growing. For them, it’s also a sensory experience where they’re learning that the earth they inhabit is alive and beautiful.