Your child’s environment is important to his health and development and one way to insure a healthy indoor environment is to bring in lots of stuff from the outdoors. Things like plants and flowers thrive on the same things we do – sunlight, water, and love. Having plenty of things from the natural world in your home will improve your family’s overall health, and create some teachable moments too.
Tips for Your Baby/Toddler (Birth to 36 months):
- Have plants in your home: Plants are kind of amazing. Not only do they create cleaner air and reduce allergies, they also actually combat some toxins we bring into our homes. Spider plants, Snake plants, Chrysanthemums and Aloe plants are a few plants that contribute to filtering your home of chemical-based cleaning products, carbon monoxide as well as paints, varnishes, plastics and detergents.
- Play and learn with snow: There is still some snow out there, so grab a container and bring it indoors – let the kids play with it in the sink or tub. Allow your kids to squish it between their hands, add food coloring to make it fun, and watch it melt. If you are all out of snow, ice cubes work well too. This little science project gives your child a sense of how things change over time, and how temperature affects the state of ice, snow and water.
- Window watch and ask questions: On days when it’s too cold to go outdoors, watch the world from indoors and talk about what you see. Where did the snow come from? Can you see it melting? Where did all the leaves on the trees go? Do you think the snow will ever go away? Asking questions builds curiosity and will help your child learn about the world around her.
Tips for Your Preschooler (36 months to 48 months):
- Grow a plant indoors: This is a great time to start growing bulbs, such as Tulips or Amaryllis, or any other flower or plant you prefer, in a container at home. Let your child get his hands dirty potting the plants and then caring for them daily. Choose a clear container so that your child can see the roots growing over time. He’ll learn about how things grow, develop and appreciation for plants and flowers, and benefit from the filtering powers of the plants in your home.
- Water the plants: Plants and flowers need to be watered. Recycle a plastic container and turn it into a watering jug. Allow your child to be as creative as she wants in decorating the can and give her the responsibility of watering the plants as needed. This allows your child to express her creativity in designing the water jug, and increases her sense of connection and responsibility towards the plants, which require her to water them to grow and thrive.
- Ask questions about the foods you eat: When eating fruits and vegetables at home, ask your child if he can see the roots or the seeds, and ask him what he thinks the roots and seeds do? You can go to a local farmers market and ask a real farmer questions. This will provide your child with interesting, informed answers and will also increase his connection to his community and his appreciation for where food comes from.
Want more tips? Read all of the tips from our partnership with Infant Mental Health Promotion at SickKids.