Hi, the weather's finally getting nice here in Philly, and my 10 month old loves to be outside. Ever since he was a newborn he's enjoyed being carried around on long walks. Now that he can crawl, I want to just put him on the ground and let him explore by himself, which he really loves. But he's still at that age where everything must eventually end up in his mouth, so I have to watch him like a hawk to make sure he doesn't eat anything he could choke on. I also worry that the concrete of our back porch will scrape up his little hands as he crawls around, and that he'll end up eating dirt no matter what I do.

Does anyone have any hints for keeping him safe as he explores? I suppose I could throw a blanket down but he'd crawl to the edge of the blanket in no time.

asked 17 Mar '10, 12:22

Anne's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

+1 Good question! I was thinking about the same thing yesterday as I was playing outside with my 10.5 month old.

(17 Mar '10, 12:57) cat_g

Good question. I asked something similar here: http://moms4mom.com/questions/4788/face-or-mouth-mask-for-6mo-to-18mo

(02 Apr '10, 17:41) Guy

My daughter was about that age last summer. Although I personally don't mind if she decides to try to the grass or dirt there were a few times we did to try to avoid it.

  1. Bring toys out for her to play with (push toys or ride on toys are particularly effective to keep them out of the mud)

  2. Get a little pool to play in instead of playing directly on the grass all the time. My daughter loved playing in her little pool.

  3. Having the grass mowed and raked gave her a lot less to choke on. She liked to pick the grass and eat it so it was better if it was shorter.

We also kept her on the grass instead of letting her crawl in the concrete, especially when she started trying to stand by herself.


answered 17 Mar '10, 13:59

nikjoyce's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

+1 for the wading pool and keeping them busy with activies. My daughter loved the wading pool.

(17 Mar '10, 16:02) Tammy ♦♦

+1 for wading pool idea.

(17 Mar '10, 16:21) Anne

Be aware that if you use a lawn care company, or apply pesticides or fertilizers to your lawn any time during the year it may not be a good idea to let them taste the grass, dirt, etc. In fact some chemicals can be absorbed through simple skin contact. Animal droppings can also be dangerous in a variety of ways, so if you have animals, or know that animals traverse your yard on a regular basis, then you probably should discourage them from eating anything from the ground, if not prevent them from being able to do so altogether. There are a lot of popular, decorative plants that are poisonous, so you may want to take care that they are not within reach of your child.

That being said, we are pretty liberal about letting them do what they want in our yard. We found that they only eat the dirt a very few times before deciding to avoid it. Grass and flowers are visually attractive, and so they may eat them more than just a few times. When we introduce them to the garden and especially the berry bushes, they make a beeline when they get outside to see if anything yummy is available. As an older toddler we even found that one would eat noticeable amounts of sand from the sandbox (noticeable as in during diaper changing time...), and during visits to the beach. We observe them, try to teach them to avoid eating things that are not food, but we don't worry when they eat a little dirt, plants, bugs, or other materials that are generally harmless.

Keep in mind that a lot of recent research suggests* that exposure to dirt strengthens the immune system, and studies have shown that allergies in later life are reduced in those that have been exposed to dirt and dust very early on in life.

*No studies really recommend forced ingestion of "dirt", though some companies are working on pro-biotic solutions that contain the beneficial organisms that occur naturally in dirt. Pretty soon your doctor may be prescribing "dirt immune system booster" drinks...


answered 17 Mar '10, 14:25

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%


+1 on not worrying if they eat a little dirt. We were more concerned with the small stones that she could choke on that she gravitated towards when digging in the dirt.

(17 Mar '10, 16:04) Tammy ♦♦

+1 my husband says the same thing about strengthening the immune system, so I try not to worry, although there is kind of a knee-jerk reaction to eating dirt that i have a hard time suppressing.

(17 Mar '10, 16:20) Anne

My daughter started to crawl last summer. She also loved dirt, and rocks, and pulling on the grass. I always put a blanket down and it helped somewhat, depending on how determined she was to get to that patch of grass or pile of dirt.

I kept her on the grass for the most part and off the concrete to prevent her from scratching up her little knees (In our case that meant only staying off the driveway and walkway).

Other then that I would watch her like a hawk as you described and continue to reinforce that dirt and rocks are not for eating. Not sure if it sunk in but I was just vigilant about taking those things away.


answered 17 Mar '10, 13:54

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦
accept rate: 18%

+1 for letting her be but watching "like a hawk" We did that too, in my parents garden in England. The only thing we were additionally cautious about was the "dew" wetness on the grass in the mornings, even if the sun was out.

(17 Mar '10, 16:00) Emi

I love watching my kids explore the outside world. I agree about them not wanting to stay on a mat.

I use to take the playpen outside especially if I was trying to get some gardening or another outside job done. This enabled me to get something done without having to watch like a hawk. Our playpen is a square wooden fencelike structure about 1.5m. As it doesn't have a base they could explore a small patch.


answered 18 Mar '10, 00:47

K%20D's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

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Asked: 17 Mar '10, 12:22

Seen: 2,853 times

Last updated: 18 Mar '10, 00:47