Although summer is definitely my favourite time of year, autumn comes in at a close second. It’s a time of year when you might still get a warm, sunny window in the day to take a walk. The last of the blackberries are still out and leaves are beginning to crunch underfoot. You can begin to unpack your woolly jumpers - but only your favourite ones.
Now the blazing sun has made way for more gentle autumn rays, it’s the perfect time of year for you and your little ones to be outside. The sights, sounds, textures and tastes of autumn are exciting for babies and toddlers to explore. There are even autumn songs to sing. Does anyone remember the primary school hymn Autumn Days with the nostalgia for all things Autumn?
In this article, I wanted to explore all of the things your baby or toddler will love about this season. So, pop your coats on and step outside for a sensory sensation!
Crunchy fallen leaves
One of the most defining and visual things about autumn is when the leaves change colour on the trees before dropping to the ground. There’s something soothing about the colours that make a walk in the woods or park even more peaceful than usual!
Babies and toddlers will love walking over the crunchy fallen leaves. Hold them by the hands and let them experience the feel of leaves underfoot. Let them feel, stroke and crush them in their hands, or kick them around. Encourage them to explore the shapes and patterns in the leaves.
And if you know, teach children the names of the trees they came from. If you don’t know, this could be a good time to learn!
If your toddler is a little older, take a few of the best leaves home with you and try making rubbings. It’s really simple to do. Just pop the leaf on a hard surface and under a thin piece of paper. Then, rub on top of the paper gently using the side of a crayon. The shape of the leaf will show through.
Lovely, smooth, brown and shiny conkers are an object of fascination for children. So satisfying to hold in a little hand! Find the biggest ones you can and help your toddler prize it from its silky shell.
To make sure your kids don’t try and put them in their mouth and swallow them, stay away from smaller conkers and ensure they’re supervised at all times.
There should be loads of yummy blackberries about on the trees right now. Wild blackberries, if on grown hedgerows of pasture in the countryside (where animals graze) or on non farmed land won’t have been treated with any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. So they’re especially good for you!
Your toddler can even eat them right from the bushes. Just don’t pick the very low ones where dogs may have done a wee!
If your baby isn’t eating solid food, you can collect bags of them and bring them home to wash, soak, lightly cook and mash for a delicious and healthy snack for your baby.
Having three children, I’m well aware of the pull of tablets, phones and screens. Getting children interested in wildlife at an early age (I hope) will encourage them to spend time outside in the natural world.
If you have a birdbox in your garden, you can look out for all kinds of birds that make more of an appearance in autumn and winter. You may be able to spot the Jay, Coaltit, Nuthatch, Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest and more if you’re lucky.
This is also the time when you’ll see flocks of migrating birds. We live near the coast and we can sometimes catch skeins of migratory geese arriving from the Arctic to spend the winter with us.
If you live near a deer park, visit it for a walk with your little ones. This is the time of year when stags come out to do battle, rutting with other stags to secure females. It’s the perfect time for deer spotting of all kinds, red deer, muntjac and roe deer.
What are your favourite things to do in Autumn with your little ones? Let us know on Instagram @matchstick_monkey!