Babyhood is a fleeting moment in life, but if you’re in charge of a very small child, you’ll know that being able to spend time outside and give your baby fresh air and exposure to nature is the best. You’ll also know how specific a baby’s needs are once outside — and how quickly these change as they go from lying down to sitting to crawling and beyond.
Your garden may just need a few quick tweaks to make it a welcoming environment for a baby, or it may require some larger adjustments before it’s ready. Read how to create a safe, inviting baby-friendly yard.
1. Go Big on Shade and Soft Surfaces
Grass — super soft on tiny knees and a good cushion for even thin blankets — and dappled shade come high on garden designer Amanda Shipman’s list of features for babies in gardens.
This garden has plenty of both. The shade hits the back of the house, which can be a desirable spot for someone spending a lot of time at home with a baby.
2. Focus on Smooth Flooring
A soft, green lawn isn’t the only flooring option. “Professionally laid, smooth paving with solid joints is also a nice thing for a baby,” Shipman says. It’s perfect for crawling unhindered, and also provides a flat surface for bouncers to sit on.
Area rugs can soften outdoor floors that aren’t as smooth as the pavers in this patio. Layer a few children’s rugs, which often come backed with rubber to make them nonslip. Or look for larger outdoor rugs that can stay put after playtime is over and pretty much live outside until your little one is walking.
Gravel is one flooring material you may want to think twice about. “A baby might eat it and it may hurt knees or the soles of their bare feet when they’re crawling or just starting to walk,” Shipman says.
If you can’t temporarily hide existing gravel under rugs or cover it completely, it might be worth replacing it with another softer material. Alternatively, consider a large, flexible wooden playpen that you can configure to keep your child safely out of the way.
3. Inspect Your Decking
Decking can also be a suitable flooring surface, as it’s softer and warmer than stone. Make sure yours is in good condition. “Check for splinters and wide joints that could trap fingers or toes,” Shipman says, “although, with proper installation by a professional, you shouldn’t get splinters with hardwood.”
Algae can make the surface slippery too, so give it a good power wash when necessary. (Shipman also suggests a sweep of garden furniture — get rid of anything broken that could be dangerous.)