We have a back yard that is completely fenced with a 6-foot wooden privacy fence. Nobody can even see in. We also have a very protective and gentle-with-kids 60-pound lab with a loud bark.
I just let my 18-month-old DS play in the yard with the dog for 30 minutes while I was inside. I could hear his little voice through the open back door the whole time, talking to the dog. And I looked out the window every 5 minutes or so to check on him, or if he got too quiet. Every time he was contentedly playing with a rock or a stick, walking around exploring, or throwing the ball for the dog.
If I heard him cry I could've gotten to him in about 30 seconds if I needed to.
I'm worried about him falling on something sharp, getting bitten by a bug, picking up parasites from the dirt, that kind of thing. But it was so awesome to see him entertaining himself while I was able to do a few chores, and teaching himself about nature no less! I really like the idea of raising him to be independent in this way.
But do you think I should have been out there with him, with my eyes on him every second? Do you think it's okay to let a child that young be outdoors alone ever, even with the relatively safe environment of our yard? WWYD?