Deciding when, where and how to take your infant out for the very first time can be especially nerve-wracking for first-time parents. The anxiety can become worse if a well-meaning relative tells you this is dangerous for your baby. You may even start to feel like you are doomed to stay cooped up in the house forever!
But today’s parenting experts say that it is totally fine to take your newborn out of the house with you (the exception being if you have a preemie or if your baby is under the weather). In fact, fresh air and sunshine as well as new stimulating sights and sounds can be healthy for you both.
In this article, we share our top tips on preparing to take your baby out with you for the very first time.
First, Consult Your Pediatrician
The most important prerequisite for taking your baby out for the first time is to be sure that you are cleared to do so by your doctor.
For example, if your infant has any health issues or concerns, your doctor may advise waiting a bit longer or bringing certain supplies with you on short outings.
Take Outings in Baby Steps
Here, you can learn from your baby—literally—by keeping your initial out-of-home excursions short and sweet. For the first time, maybe you just walk around the block or leave to do a quick errand and come back home. Try to pick a place that won’t be crowded or stressful for either of you.
Then you can gradually increase the time you spend out of the home as you become more comfortable with fending off admirers who want to touch or hold your baby, responding to feeding needs in more public locations and calming a fussy baby in a busy store—all first-time parenting challenges that can take some getting used to.
Get Your Baby Bag Ready for Action
When you have an infant in tow, carrying a bag of extras is unavoidable. The days of “just grab your wallet and go” are gone for the foreseeable future. As such, you can make your outings so much easier and more fun for you both by preparing a baby bag that has all the things you or your baby might need while you are out and about.
Here are some of our recommendations of things to include—be sure to check with your doctor as well:
- Diapers and wipes
- Changing pad
- Diaper cream or ointment
- Sunhat and baby sunscreen
- Baby blanket for warmth
- Burping/feeding blanket
- Bottle and formula or breast milk
- Change of clothing
- Sterile water
Strategically Time Your Outings
There is no doubt you won’t be able to avoid the masses forever. But you can tweak the timing of your “with baby” outings to reduce your wait time and make each trip simple and quick.
Here are some expert tips from fellow parents about the timing of trips:
- Go early or late to avoid the crowds—this includes both rush hour traffic and in-store or restaurant traffic.
- Feed your baby before you go out to simplify your trip.
- Do errands during nap time so (with any luck) your infant will sleep through most of it.
- Head for the mall on a weekday when you know you will have the place mostly to yourself.
- Choose baby-friendly venues where you know your baby is welcome and amenities favor moms with infants.
Master the Obstacle Course
The sneezing teens, the coughing smokers, the overbearing admirers who want to hold, cuddle, squeeze and breathe on your new baby—these are the folks who will most want to encounter you, and the same folks you will most want to avoid.
Depending on how you carry your baby when you are out, there are a number of strategies that can keep some distance between your infant and the throngs of admirers:
- Use your bulky diaper bag as a kind of “personal space” buffer between you and others. Here, being perceived as a “wide load” can act in your favor to get people to clear a path for you, hold doors open and perform other minor acts of kindness that make them feel connected but also keep them at a distance.
- Put a privacy cover over the top of your infant’s stroller. These breathable covers allow for air circulation but keep well-wishers and admirers from gaining contact with your baby.
- Prepare to be your infant’s advocate by speaking up when people get too close and asking them to not touch or try to pick up your baby.
- Choose baby-friendly activities and venues where other moms will be present with their own babies—more babies equals less chance that a stranger will try to handle yours.
Help Others Help You
One of the most important ways you can ease your new mom stress while out and about with your infant is to help others help you in the ways that you really need. For instance, you might keep a spare baby bag in your trunk to give to relatives who may help you by watching your infant. For frequent carers, you might even want to stash a spare bag at their house that you can replenish as needed.
Finally, by empowering yourself to speak freely and ask for what you and your baby truly need, you will ease others’ fears that they are not helping you in the right way or providing you with the supplies you truly need while you visit with them.
The truth is, the vast majority of the people you meet during your outings with your baby are likely to be kind, helpful and accommodating to you both. These tips can help you with any issues that do come up to ensure your trip out with baby goes as smoothly as possible.
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