I still remember my first autumn with my daughter.
It was a magical day, the stuff that motherhood dreams are made of. I bundled my baby up and our family drove to an apple orchard for an inaugural apple-picking. Sure, we knew she wouldn’t remember the dusted-sugar cinnamon donuts and she definitely would forget the sugary mulled apple cider we drank, but that didn’t matter. We would remember. And that’s what mattered.
Maybe you are also hoping to capture some precious “firsts” this year. As long summer days transition into crisp fall nights, it’s a great time to think about milestones—and who doesn’t love fall, right? We’ve gathered a baby bucket list below to help you experience fall in new ways.
And a quick note: for this year’s bucket list, we focused on outdoor-friendly and social-distancing ideas. We know that autumn activities may look a bit different in some areas, but there are still plenty of ways you can experience your version of fall-themed magic with your baby:
Bundle `Em Up
I recently gave my sister a Patagonia fleece onesie, the same one that my daughter once wore. I had saved it all these years, hoping I’d have a niece to pass it to. It took 8 years, but my efforts were finally rewarded. There’s something about signature baby pieces—especially seasonal ones—that are so special, so if you can, consider dressing your own baby in something to mark the start of their first fall.
While my daughter’s first cool weather piece was that pink fleece, you can find many adorable ideas for your own fall baby “first cool weather” clothes online. Layers are a good choice for babies, so choose pieces that allow you to layer them for warmth if needed.
And if you need some ideas:
- The sherpa trend is a fun one for littles—It’s like dressing your baby in a buttery pillow.
- A warm pom-pom hat or beanie will complete the look.
- And of course, every child needs a pair of fall boots or rain boots (these may be more ornamental than useful, but so chic!).
One of these unique pieces might just become memorabilia, years from now.
Pull up to the Patch
You knew this one was coming—pumpkin patches are a must when it comes to fall traditions.
If you have a pumpkin patch within driving distance, you can make this trip a yearly jaunt. If this is your baby’s first fall rodeo, make sure to snap lots of pics as traditional outings take on a whole new meaning with littles.
You’ll also need a few things to make the trip actually magical instead of miserable (been there!):
- Make sure the diaper bag is packed.
- Bring along a few outfits for baby, with plenty of layers and weather options, so you don’t have to worry about dirt smudges or your baby getting cold.
- Pack a blanket you don’t mind getting dirty if you plan on snapping some pics in the pumpkin patch—the field may be messy, and pumpkin vines can be prickly!
There is usually a lot to do at local farms beyond the pumpkin patch—many fall farms have rides and events like hay rides. Hay rides are perfect for a family cuddle, and you can bet your baby’s nose will turn an adorable shade of pink in the crisp weather.
On your way out, don’t forget to pick up baby’s first pumpkin on the way out—hopefully it’s a perfect tiny treasure, just like them. And if you have a toddler who is old enough, pick up a spare so that you can have some additional fun with pumpkin painting when you get home.
Make Some Autumn-Scented Play Dough
If you have an older baby, or a burgeoning toddler whose past the putting-everything-in-her-mouth phase, making play dough that smells like cinnamon is sure to please everyone. It’s a fun activity to both make and play with together. Scent and memory are closely linked—smells travel directly to our limbic system, the same areas that deal with emotion and memory—so it’s sure to invoke special memories for both of you later on.
This cinnamon “apple pie” play dough will remind your olfactory senses that autumn is on the way. The best part: baby will build their own memories of fall sights and sounds!
Ingredients for cinnamon “apple pie” play dough:
- 2 TBSP Cream of tartar
- 1 TBSP oil
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup salt
- food gel coloring
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- plastic sealable baggies to store the dough in later
- In a large pot, combine all ingredients and mix them together.
- Add in the vegetable oil, food color, and water. Combine all together.
- Cook over low heat until the dough starts to come together and becomes a playdough-consistency.
- Take off the heat and knead together into a ball.
- Store for later in a baggie in the fridge (for up to several days).
Baby may be more interested in squishing the dough between their fingers and experimenting with it. That’s okay! Your baby is learning through every sensory experience, and fortunately, this playdough is non-toxic and easy to make. It’s made with simple pantry ingredients and is fine for baby to taste. If they do take a nibble, they’ll likely not love the taste, and realize squishing is better.
Play in the Leaves
There’s nothing that screams “fall” more than a pile of raked-up leaves, right? The best part about this fall activity is it requires minimal materials: all you need is a rake, or for bonus fall fun, have the kids pile up the leaves themselves! Raking leaves into a pile can be done at home and is a great Saturday or Sunday family activity.
A leaf pile is also an amazing sensory experience for kids of all ages; my daughter loved to scrunch the leaves in her hands. Be prepared for lots of giggles while they play.
Take a Family Hike Through the Woods
One of my favorite fall activities is one that’s simple and free—a family hike through the woods will get you all outdoors and enjoying the sights and sounds of fall. Strap your baby on in a carrier or hiking backpack and hit the trails.
A is for Apple
Sure, pumpkins get all the attention this season, but apples are where it’s at. No matter how old your baby is, apple picking is a great activity for the whole family, and it leads to a lot more fall fun too, such as…
Crank up the Crockpot
Once you’re home, apples in tow, you can make some crockpot apple sauce—just peel, slice, and toss in the crockpot with some water on low) or do apple painting with older toddlers. If you prefer it, you can also sprinkle in some cinnamon and sugar for a little more flavor.
Try Your Hand at Apple Painting
If you’re feeling particularly brave and have a toddler or older children, halve apples and dip them (cut down down) into the paint, then use as “stamps” on sturdy paper. Just be prepared to get messy!
Enjoy a First Taste of Fall
Fall is all about the senses. Now that we’ve engaged the rest of your baby’s senses, it’s time to give them a taste of fall!
If your baby eats solid food, this might be a good time to introduce pureed pumpkin and some new flavors, like that cinnamon applesauce. I personally loved introducing my baby to sweetened pureed squash, as it’s a family Thanksgiving tradition to serve buttery squash with our meal. Whatever tastes are on your bucket list, baby is sure to enjoy the “new” flavors.
Read a Fall-Themed Book Together
OK, so we are a family of book-lovers, but babies are born naturally curious and reading a book together is the perfect activity to do. Reading a book with your baby engages them on so many levels—you’re physically connecting, they are learning language, they are bonding with you, and they are learning about the world around them, all from the safety of your lap.
And these two books in particular will engage their senses too—this book features sensory touch-and-feel to bring fall items, like leaves and pumpkins, alive, while this one has fun Halloween press-and-play sounds that surely won’t get old to your ears, right?
No matter which activities you choose this fall, remember it’s not necessarily about the experience itself, but about the joy of seeing everything new again through your child’s eyes.
So, enjoy these autumn fun activities and make sure to take lots of pictures—after all, you’re making memories!