Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gardening With A Baby

I have to admit there were years where I didn't garden.  Those years were when my children were under 2 years old.  It was just to busy of a time.  Now that I'm in the over 60 crowd I never in a million  years thought I'd have a baby when I planted this huge garden (size of two city lots).  Then eight weeks ago our 6 month old granddaughter, Gabriella Nicole (Gabby), joined us.

What to do?  Well we've hired a helper for the garden and need to hire another one, but Gabby does enjoy going to the garden for short periods of time.  I would hire a helper to keep Gabby occupied but since she is still in 'foster care' here that requires all kinds of background checks and the like just get get a sitter for her.

So as a way to encourage you, my readers

I did some research on ways to occupy baby in the garden and ran across these hints from Little Spruce Organics:

  • If you practice the art of babywearing, give it a try while gardening. While you’ll be slightly more limited than you would without your baby, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish (and you’ll have two hands to do so!)  Once you feel confident wearing your baby in a sling or carrier, watering your garden, trimming trees and shrubs, and even squatting to pull a few weeds will all become a breeze.  Plus, your baby will love coming along for the ride and observing gardening chores from your perspective.
  • Step back and give your baby some freedom to explore the beauty of nature.  Find a shady area of soft grass and plop your baby down on a blanket to enjoy the fresh air while you garden nearby.  Your baby might pause to watch your every move, emphatically pull blade after blade of grass, become mesmerized by the leaves as they dance in the breeze, or simply stare up to watch the clouds float by.  Either way, your baby will be captivated by the sights and sounds of nature… and there’s really nothing more beautiful than that.
  • Explore various plants in your garden with your baby. Find plants in your garden that you don’t mind being torn apart by your baby’s curious hands, and share with your baby the textures and scents of fragrant herbs like thyme, mint, sage, and basil.   Who needs toys when you can rip sweet-smelling leaves to shreds?
  • Get down and dirty with your baby… play together in the soil.  A little dirt never hurt anyone, after all!  Babies love the feel of the earth in their hands and in between their tiny toes, and under a mother’s watchful eye, not even the smallest stone will make its way into baby’s mouth.
  • Most importantly: Modify your gardening objectives.  Accept and embrace the fact that gardening with a baby is less about being productive in the garden and more about surrounding your baby with the beauty that is the earth and the green life that shoots from its soil.  When you share your garden with your baby, your baby will begin to understand that the earth is alive, capturing that feeling of the energy of the earth and of each tiny seed that pushes upward to become a plant, so full of life.  Does a better education than this even exist?
I think the key here is to remember that during certain periods of your life you will not have a 'show garden' and you will save yourself some great stress if you remember your limitations and give your baby the special time she/he needs.  Gardening while the baby is napping and using a baby monitor is a great idea, or set up a play pen, cover with bug netting and let the baby sleep outside while you garden is another thought.  Doing garden work before she wakes up or after she goes to bed (although I'm often trying to sleep then too).  Perhaps the best solution is to get daddy (or grandpa in my case) to play with baby while you work in the garden.

Words to the wise:  Gardens are not always safe places for baby.  I also found these thoughts in an article: 

Is your garden safe for your baby? Many parents erroneously think that their gardens are safe for their baby and toddler because there are no clearly visible dangers. However, every year many babies and toddlers reach the hospitals due to garden accidents and their parents also thought that their gardens were safe. The things in the garden fascinate toddlers and it is difficult to keep them still. Gardens are places for adventure and exploration for them and that is why you must make sure that your garden is completely safe for babies and toddlers. Here is what you can do to minimize the risks.

Don't turn your back while your baby is in the garden.
You may be tempted to leave your baby alone for a few minutes to attend the phone or something else. Dangerous objects and situations appear to attract toddlers like magnets. They are mobile and naturally inquisitive and their fascination for anything new or anything that moves gets them into trouble from which they can't easily get out because of lack of coordination. Therefore never leave your child unattended in a garden especially in those of others who may not have babies or may not be as safety conscious as you. Be sure that your toddler will get into trouble the moment you turn your back.
Make sure that the fencing is secure.
Make sure that your baby can't get out of the garden. Babies easily find small holes in the fence or hedge and wriggle through them. It is easy for adults to overlook these small holes. Even if your garden is safe your neighbor's may not be. Also make sure that the gates fasten tightly and that your toddler can't reach the lock or open it. Toddlers love to climb over things and they may use objects in your garden, such as pots, chairs or even big toys to climb over the fence. Many small children have sustained injuries by falling over to the other side. Also look for any exposed nails on the fence. Make sure that your fence or boundary is high enough.
Beware of any water risks.
Water is a major cause of garden deaths especially in summer. Babies have been known to drown even in 2-3 centimeters of water within moments. They just love water and can't keep away from it. If you have a pond or any other water feature in your garden make sure that it is properly fenced off or covered so that the baby cannot reach the water without your help. Don't leave your toddler unattended near any sort of water feature or source. Whether it is a bucket or pool they are all dangerous for small children. These warnings also apply when you are visiting others or public gardens. Many of the drownings are reported during such visits.
Beware of soil and sand hazards.
Babies have the habit of putting everything into the mouth and that includes garden soil and sand. Toddlers love to dig soil from flowerbeds with their finders or something else it and will not be long before they put their fingers in the mouth. The soil might contain cat or dog feces that can harm your baby if ingested. They may contain harmful parasites like toxoplasmosis found in cat feces and toxocariasis in dog feces. Therefore for baby safety fence or grass over the flowerbeds or anyy exposed earth. The same goes for sand pits, which should be kept covered when baby is around. Be sure to wash baby's hands after a visit to the garden or the moment it is soiled. Clear any visible feces or other objects regularly.
Beware of poisonous plants.
Many of the plants and their parts can be poisonous for babies. Because of their fascination for putting everything into their mouths they may eat flowers, berries, leaves or bulbs from garden plants. Make a list of all the plants and shrubs in your garden and find out from someone knowledgeable whether they or any of their parts are poisonous. Beware of garden plants like rhododendron, deadly nightshade, azalea, rhubarb leaves, lily of the valley, hyacinth, privet, foxglove, delphinium, laburnum and yew that are known to be poisonous. Also beware of plants with thorns or spikes. These can cause a lot of pain if your baby falls face first into them. Teach your child not to pick flowers or plant parts and keep your baby away from them.
Beware of dangerous garden chemicals, tools and equipment.
Garden tools and equipment hold a lot of fascination for toddlers as they see dad and mom using them. Boys are more susceptible as they want to be like dad. They are fascinated by the likes of trimmers, secateurs, hammers and lawnmowers that daddy uses. All garden tools, chemicals and DIY kits should be locked away securely in a shed. Make sure small children cannot reach the latch or open the lock. Fence off any stacked logs, paving slabs or stacks of other items as toddlers will try to climb and the stacks will collapse over them causing injuries. Also keep toddlers away from washing lines or tubes that may strangle babies. Keep away all chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers locked away.
Beware of dangers from garden toys.
Toys meant for older children left in the garden can harm toddlers. They can also swallow small toys or toy parts and choke. Toys left out for long in the garden may deteriorate. Check that all equipment meant for playing are secure and there are no loose screws. Older children playing on swings or slides can hurt toddlers. Be vigilant when other children are around. The play equipment should conform to safety standards. Toddlers may trip over tennis or badminton racquets, balls and bats left lying around and hurt themselves.
Beware of the sun.
The hot sun can harm your baby's skin. Always protect it with adequate clothing and a total block sunscreen. Even when it slightly cloudy long periods of exposure can be harmful. Make your baby wear a hat in the garden when it is sunny. Even on cloudy days exposure for long periods can be harmful. Also make sure that sunscreen lotion and insect repellent bottles should not be left lying around in the garden as babies may put them into the mouth.

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