How To Enjoy The Shade With Your Baby

a baby playing outside in the summer

When the weather is sunny and warm, it’s tempting to go outside and soak up the rays. But for babies younger than 6 months old, it’s best to stay out of the sunshine.

Infants are still developing their natural sun protectant melanin, which means they’re very susceptible to sunburn, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. As such, it’s best to keep them shaded as much as possible for the first six months of life and to limit exposure during their first few years.

Just because your baby should be kept away from rays doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors with her, though. With the help of a shady tree, a large umbrella or a covering pavilion, you and your little one can have fun out of the sun.

Here are four fun things to do with a baby in the summer shade:

1. Paint with ice cubes

Ice cubes are a nice, cool way to introduce your baby to new textures and sensations. He’ll enjoy feeling the cold ice on his hands on a hot day. If you color the ice cubes with food coloring, flavored drink mix or paint, your ice cubes will be colorful and fun to play with.

Bring a white poster board outside with you and let your baby push the colored ice cubes around on it. As they melt, they’ll leave colorful trails behind, mixing and blending into a unique scene, Jaclyn Anne Shimmel, mother and author of the blog Crayons & Cravings, explained. For Shimmel’s son, it was fun to chase the slippery ice cubes and squeeze the melting blocks.

2. Play with bubbles

A baby chases after bubbles.Blow some bubbles for your baby this summer.

To a baby, bubbles are magical. They are formed suddenly out of seemingly nothing, and they float away quickly. Babies love to reach out and pop them. Buy some bubble mix or make some of your own. For a DIY version, mix light corn syrup with dish soap in a bucket, then add water, Home Science Tools recommended. Use large bubble wands or straws to form your bubbles.

The corn syrup in this recipe makes a thicker soap barrier, helping the bubbles grow larger and resist popping better.

3. Jell-O dig

Jell-O is a delicious dessert, but it’s also a fun way to make playtime more engaging. For a delightfully sloppy activity, make a big bowl of Jell-O and set your baby’s favorite toys inside, Columbia SC Moms Blog suggested. Be sure to choose hard plastic toys, as the Jell-O can stain fabric. When the mixture has gelled, bring the bowl, your baby and a towel outside and let her re-discover her toys. She’ll dig through the Jell-O to find her toys (and probably eat some in the process), then will feel excited and accomplished when she finally pulls it out of the solution. This activity will result in a sticky mess, so it’s perfect for outdoor fun.

4. Sensory bin

Sensory bins are great ways to introduce your little one to new textures. For summertime fun, it’s easy to create a portable bin that you can take into your backyard, to a park or to the beach. Use a large plastic tub with a lid, and fill it with rice, dry pasta, sand or even water. Then, add in anything you like. Choose large, grabbable toys, smooth stones, plastic flowers or cups she can use to scoop up the water whatever is in the bin.


The many things she can pick up, move around and touch will provide plenty of entertainment. Be sure to use age-appropriate items in your sensory bin, and always keep an eye on your little one to make sure she’s not eating the sand or dumping it out.

Your young baby isn’t quite old enough to enjoy the sunshine, but fun in the shade is a safe way to spend your summer.

Molly Ploe comes from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and enjoys hiking, baking and reading. Her favorite Saturday is rainy with bread in the oven and a new book.