When And How to Take Your Newborn Out in Public
when and how to take your newborn out in public
Taking your newborn baby in public for the very first time can be quite daunting. As a new parent, it’s normal to worry about keeping your baby safe from all the environmental factors and sicknesses they may encounter. But you also long for friends and family to get a chance to meet him or her. It’s a predicament that can be solved with a little planning ahead.
How long should I wait before taking the baby out of the house?
As a new mom, I remember feeling so worried and a little conflicted about taking my baby out in public. My goal was simply to keep the baby safe. However, not being able to get out much also contributed to stress and isolation. You might be feeling similarly, wondering when it’s finally okay to begin taking your newborn baby out into the world to either meet other family members or to simply stay sane, unwind or run errands. While there’s no hard and fast rule, most pediatric experts recommend waiting until you feel comfortable. And everyone’s comfort level can vary due to a number of factors.
One of the biggest factors is the baby’s vulnerable immune system. Because infants are continuing to develop every day after birth, it takes time for them to build a strong immune system to fight off illnesses. Doctor Harvey Karp, pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby On The Block, considers the first three months after birth to be the fourth trimester — a time baby continues to grow and thrives best in an environment that closely mimics the womb. It’s a critical period of adjustment for both mom and newborn. It makes sense you might not want to head out in public with a two-week-old. And if you’re having family or groups over to meet baby, it’s important they take precautions and respect your wishes, like washing hands before touching baby. My pediatrician suggested having guests wash hands up until about two months old — this will vary for everyone and depends on the comfort level and desire of the parents.
Effects of isolation during postpartum time
While limiting contact with the outside world can help minimize sicknesses and keep you at ease initially, it can also have very isolating effects on the mother. The postpartum time period already comes with many hormonal ups and downs. After birth, mothers may experience a range of emotions from the baby blues to anxiety and depression. Being alone indoors without others to talk to during a critical period can exacerbate symptoms. This is a time when mothers need the support of a village to help care for the child and get the adequate care she also needs.
Tips for taking a new baby out in public
Ready to finally step out in public and take the baby to meet friends and family? Here are some tips to help you feel at ease and keep your baby safe.
Protect baby from germs
As you start to venture out with the baby, you’ll encounter more people. It’s natural for them to want to get close, touch or even hold the baby. Setting clear boundaries and speaking up as needed will help you avoid issues down the road. This can be tough to do around family but remember you are the mom. Because little kids can transfer germs quickly, try to keep them away from the baby’s face. Anyone who is sick or showing any signs of illness should not be near the baby.
Stay safe in the sun
While the fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for a mom who’s been stuck indoors, direct sunlight should be avoided around a newborn. This can get tricky, as a young baby’s skin is too delicate for most sunscreens. Try to ensure the baby has plenty of shade. A stroller with a canopy or a hat often does the trick. You may also choose to dress the baby in sun-protective breathable clothing.
Be picky about where to go
And because bringing a baby to crowded places isn’t recommended early on, it’s important you be selective of your destination. Try to avoid malls or airports that can be a breeding ground for germs and opt for large open spaces, like a park or yard if possible. If you’re meeting family indoors, keep things manageable with a small group at a time rather than your entire extended family.
One of the best ways to reduce the stress when it comes to hands all over the baby during public outings is to simply babywear. Whether you prefer a swaddle or baby wrap or a soft-structured carrier, wearing your baby is an easy way to take the baby out of the house without worrying about germy hands all over your little one. Although this isn’t a long-term fix, it can help you manage the uncertainty those early days when you need to get out but still want to keep your baby close.
Pack the essentials
When you’re heading out with the baby, make sure you have essentials on hand. This includes diapering and feeding items as well as medicines and change of clothes. Keep it simple to cover things a baby needs on the go and also a couple things that will keep mom and dad at ease like hand sanitizer or burp cloths. New parents are notorious for overpacking and making outings more complicated than they need to be.
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Remember, if you’re wondering when the perfect time is to take the baby out in public, it really is a personal decision that depends on what you are most comfortable with — and will vary from parent to parent. You may feel pressure in many directions, but it is ultimately a balancing act between when a baby can safely do so and when you feel ready.
And to feel comfortable and at ease while out in public with baby, small adjustments in where you go, what you bring, and who you surround yourself with, can make a world of a difference in those worry-filled newborn days.