Where are the babies? A report on babies’ and toddlers’ engagement with the outdoors

We hope our readers are doing okay in these difficult times. We know that it must be especially hard for those of you with young children; you will want to ensure that they get both some exercise and also fresh air. Those with gardens can at least enjoy some of the sunshine we have had this week but those without any outdoor space must find it particularly challenging.  Thinking about children being outside, we would like to signpost you to a report published this week entitled ‘Where are the babies?’ The report looks at research on babies’ and toddlers’ engagement with the outdoors when in formal day care settings. We understand this will be the last thing that settings are worrying about at the moment but in our view anything to do with babies is uplifting! If you would like to read it (or at least look at the lovely heart-warming photos), you can find it on the Froebel Trust website here. It is part of an ongoing project, funded by the Froebel Trust, that we told you about in a previous post.

Why is this research important?

It is already well documented that the outdoor environment is so important for young children; you may have notice that many of our guest posts have been dedicated to this discussion. However, there has been very little research carried out on how children two and under are experiencing the outdoors when in ECEC settings: in fact, we found none in the English context! Hence the title of our report ‘Where are the babies?’

What have we found out so far?

We have found only 21 research papers overall that talked about young children (0-2s) and the outdoors. If you want to see how we arrived at this number, you can read about our methodology on page 5 of the report. The papers that we did read, although claiming to focus on babies and toddlers, were more concerned with the older of this age group; the interest appeared to be those who were already walking. We were encouraged however to see some understanding of how the outdoors can be a space full of possibilities for young children if they are accompanied by knowledgeable, attuned adults.

Next steps?

We are currently working on the second stage of the report which is based on an audit we carried out on settings with babyrooms in Kent. We wanted to see how the ideas we had discovered in the literature review were reflected in what was happening in practice in this county. We’ll let you know as soon as this ready; we’ll think you’ll find it an interesting read. A subsequent third report will be based on case studies of several settings that we have already carried out – but we have yet to start working on that!

Keep safe everyone. If you feel like writing a blog post whilst you are stuck at home that would be wonderful so do get in touch. We especially send our love and best wishes to those who are continuing to work with young children during this difficult time.

One thought on “Where are the babies? A report on babies’ and toddlers’ engagement with the outdoors

  1. Pingback: Being outside: why is it so important for babies and toddlers? – Contemplating Childhoods

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