Most one-year-old children love the outdoors — showers or sunshine, windy or hot — they don't notice the overall weather as much as they notice little things, like grass, snow, and rain. One of the best things you can do for a child is let him explore the outdoors with you. Keep an eye on him, but do your best not to hover — let him touch dirt, flowers, and whatever he sees that is safe. If he picks up something dirty, simply tell him it's not safe and take it away, but don't make him stop exploring.
You'll notice that one-year-olds often don't get far in their explorations. They are like little scientists, stopping very quickly at something and looking at it intently for longer than is interesting to someone (like you) who is already familiar with sand or blades of grass. If you can, try not to rush this inquiry. While grownups often want to show their little ones all there is to see — look at the house, the slide, the beach! — one-year-olds are often content to examine one thing at very close range.
While running around barefoot is certainly one of life's pleasures, it is best to save this for your own yard or other private place. A one-year-old does not know to look out for glass or other things that can cut or hurt her, and a bad cut will keep her off her feet for longer than she'd like.
One of the great things about taking your child to a park is that it's free. And while parents often think one of the best things they can do for their child is buy them educational toys, the truth is that nature is the best teacher of all. Point out the way the clouds change in the sky, the sounds that squirrels make, and the different birds. Let your child feel the bark of a tree and the metal of the benches.
Don't be too disappointed if you've only been at the park fifteen minutes before your one-year-old is ready to pack up and go home. Older kids have the benefit of longer-term memory and associations, and they remember the park as a place where they have a lot of fun. At this age, a child sometimes just isn't in the mood and can't switch gears the way an older child can. A short visit this time doesn't mean she won't enjoy it for longer next time.
You might want to bring some things to a park for your child, such as a big ball (she'll have more space to try to kick and throw it), a blanket (so she can lie down when she's tired), and a snack, as well as something to drink. Be sure she wears a hat and sunscreen.
Your child will most likely want to show you the things she sees and picks up in the park, so enjoy playing the role of student as she points out everything she notices. For example, admire your one-year-old as she picks up a roly-poly without fear, even if she squishes it as she does so. Let her show you a spider as it climbs up the wall. At the age of one, many children are not yet afraid of bugs. If you can, try to refrain from transmitting your fear (if you have one), and encourage this scientific discovery.
Water and Swimming
If you're taking your one-year-old to the beach or a lake, you'll find that he either loves the water or is hesitant to go near it. This might be because he understands that he can't swim, and it might trouble him that he can't see the bottom. (Some children assume they can swim and jump right in.)
If your child is nervous around water, it might not be the actual water but the noise of the waves or the murkiness of the lake that bothers him. You will need to explain the surroundings to him, pointing out the water is clear in your hand and that it's the mud that's dark or that the waves are gentle when they are near you. If you can, sit down with him in the water so that he doesn't feel all alone down there.
No matter how well your child takes to the water, he is unable to swim by himself for any period of time. You must always stand within arm's reach of your baby, preferably with your hands on him or as close to him as possible. It can take just a few seconds for a baby to drown. If you have to jump in or swim over to him, you could be too late. No matter how shallow the water, your baby should also be wearing a life preserver or a supportive flotation device so that his face cannot go under the water's surface.
At this age, most babies like to jump up and down in water, although they are also likely to play happily just sitting or standing. Your child will probably dislike getting splashed or having water in his face. One of the best ways for him to see how to play in the water is for you to let him splash you and see you enjoying the water, too. Before you put his feet in, make sure yours are wet. He'll follow your lead.