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Bring on the summer!
There's nothing like your baby's first trip to the beach, your toddler's first dip in the pool, or your family's first camping trip.
Here are five worthy adventures to kick off a lifetime of fun summer activities and adventures.
By Heather Flett and Whitney Moss, authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbookand the bloggers behind Rookie Moms. Heather and Whitney also publish 510 Families, a blog for San Francisco Bay Area parents about having fun with kids. They live in Berkeley, California.
Hit the beach
Whether your nearest beach is by the ocean or a lake, this budget-friendly outing has no start or end time to force you to hustle out the door. Bring snacks, sand toys, something to sit on, and an umbrella or tent for shade.
Activities for the youngest children include people and dog watching, exploring the texture of sand, feeling the cold water, and looking cute in pictures. Toddlers can learn to build sand castles and dig for buried toys. Don't forget the sunscreen!
Tip: If you have a jogging stroller, it'll handle sand better than a regular stroller. Carry your child with one arm and use the jogger to transport supplies to your beach spot.
Enjoy a baby-friendly movie
Beat the heat by heading for a daytime movie in the middle of the week. Theaters across the country host special showings of movies for parents and babies.
Never fear – you won't be watching baby videos. In most cases, the films are new (or recent) grown-up releases, shown with the lights turned up, the sound turned down, and plenty of tolerance for babies and the noise that comes along with them.
Search online for the name of your town and "mom and baby movie" to find a showing near you.
Tip: This activity is best for young (pre-crawling) babies who will happily eat and snooze on you or in the stroller.
Sleeping in nature isn't for everyone, but camping is a great way to get away from home into some beautiful scenery without spending a lot of money.
Babies and toddlers find plenty to keep them entertained (think sticks and pinecones) and often sleep well in the fresh air. To keep younger babies out of trouble, bring a carrier and wear your little one around.
Play yards also come in handy. Drag yours into the tent for sleeping and pull it outside during the day so your child can watch you cook from a safe spot.
Tip: Backpacks with frames can double as highchairs to feed your baby outside.
Get in the pool
Taking your little one in a swimming pool gives you a whole new (and cool!) way to interact.
Hold her under the arms to submerge her body and drag her around to give her the experience of being weightless in water. Help her splash and let her watch you blow bubbles with your lips.
Discovering your local public pools – which may offer recreational swim hours for families – is an added benefit. Try a one-day pool outing or join a swim class for parents and babies to make it a habit.
Tip: Bring your stroller into the changing room. That way you'll have a safe place to put your child while you change your own clothes. And don't forget a plastic bag to hold your wet suits!
Hike a trail
A change of scenery can boost everyone's mood. Strap your baby on your back or front and head out into the natural world.
Hiking is a great way to explore the special attractions in your part of the country. Whether you walk through desert or forest, along a lakeshore or over rolling hills, the new sounds, smells, and sights will soothe your child as he watches the natural world go by.
Tip: New to hiking? It's a good idea to start slow and build up to longer hikes if you enjoy them. Do your research and start with a hike that's less than an hour long – although if this is a family affair, you can be more ambitious. If you're going alone, be sure to let someone know where you're headed.