Master the inaugural foray into the world while keeping everyone healthy and happy.
From the moment you bring your baby home, you start to create a new routine for everyday life. The first few days and weeks postpartum may very well be spent inside getting to know your little one’s cues and cries, establishing breastfeeding and gaining confidence in your ability as a new mom to care for her needs.
Eventually though, the idea of fresh air, catching some vitamin D and seeing someone other than your delivery driver may tempt you enough to take your new baby out for the first time.
According to most pediatricians, it’s safe to take a newborn baby outside from day one, as long as new parents follow a few extra precautions.
Avoid Direct Sunlight.
Your baby’s skin is too delicate for the sun ray’s (even in cold weather), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages the use of sunscreen for children under 6 months of age. Ensure your stroller or car seat carrier has an adequate canopy or utilize an additional cover if needed to keep baby safe from getting a sunburn.
Keep Germs from Hands and Faces Away.
Not only does that cover help with sun safety, but frankly, it keeps onlookers out of your sweet pea’s space. As a rule of thumb, avoid any interactions between baby and strangers while out and about. (We’re fresh off the heels of a global pandemic, after all!) Your newborn’s immune system is fragile, so do not feel pressure to allow passerby to have a peek—just keep on walking! And it’s probably a good idea to always have some hand sanitizer or wipes with you, too.
Dress Baby Appropriately.
You’ll want to mind the temperature when taking your newborn outside to ensure she’s not dressed too warmly and at risk of getting over-heated. For cooler weather, pack a blanket or two for keeping her warm as needed.
If you’re feeling confident and want to venture beyond a jaunt around the block, do it! Here are a few tips for making it through.
Pick a Simple Destination.
There’s nothing wrong with starting small by hitting the park or the bookstore around the corner and heading straight home again. A sole location is easier to anticipate and makes prepping the diaper bag more straightforward.
Pack Plenty of Supplies.
Bring along a few more diapers and wipes than you think you’ll need—just for your own peace of mind. After a while, you’ll have a better gauge of what you need—and in what amounts.
Know it Will Take Time.
Everything takes longer with a baby. Be prepared to stop frequently for feedings, changes or a comforting snuggle. Try to not be in a rush and enjoy the process of just having your newborn out and getting a grip on another aspect of this parenting thing. You’re doing it!
Nix Any and All Expectations.
Put zero pressure on this first trip out. Don’t commit to meeting someone at a certain time or picking up grocery store items for dinner that night. That way you can push it back if naptime runs late or your need more flexibility.
How to dress your baby
It is important to keep your baby at the right temperature. You can check whether your baby is too warm or cold by feeling their forehead. Babies’ hands and feet often feel cold when you touch them, so don’t judge their temperature by feeling their extremities.
It is a good idea to dress your baby in layers that you can take off and put back on. Dress them in one more layer than you need yourself. If it’s cold weather, keep your baby warm with a blanket and hat. When you come inside into the warm, take off a layer or two.
If it’s hot weather, you need to take special care to keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun. Babies cannot cool themselves as well as adults and are more at risk of overheating. Dress your baby in minimal clothing on a hot day but make sure their arms and legs are covered to prevent sunburn. A hat is essential to protect your baby’s head properly.
What to take
Consider going on a short trip to start off with. But even if you are only going out for a short while, it is a good idea to be prepared in case your baby is hungry or needs a nappy change. Pack a bag with the following:
- nappies (6 to 10, depending on the length of your outing)
- wipes (you can put these in a convenient travel case)
- change pad
- 2 to 3 changes of clothes
- accessories depending on the weather (hat, blankets, sunshade)
- 2 blankets
- nappy bag
- plastic bag for soiled clothes or nappies
- hand sanitiser
- formula and bottles if you are bottle feeding
How to transport your baby
Pushing your baby in a pram or stroller is a good way for you to get out and about. Always secure your baby in the pram with a 5-point harness and make sure you always put on the brakes when you stop. Prevent the pram from tipping by putting bags in the harness underneath, not over the handles.
A baby carrier or sling means you can keep your hands free while you’re out. Make sure you adjust it, so it is comfortable for you. Wear comfortable shoes and be careful of tripping when you bend over or walk on uneven surfaces. A baby carrier or sling is not a good idea in hot weather because your baby can overheat.
If you are driving somewhere, babies under 6 months must be restrained in an approved car seat.
Keeping your baby safe
One of the greatest dangers to newborn babies outside in Australia is the sun. Try to always keep them in the shade. Cover the pram with a cloth and make sure air can still get through. Alternatively, you could use the pram’s canopy top or an umbrella to create shade. Minimise the use of sunscreen in babies younger than 6 months. If your baby has to be in the sun, apply sunscreen to those small areas of skin not covered by wraps, clothing and a hat.
You should also try to protect your baby from people who are sick, because babies’ immune systems are not fully developed. Immunisation will help protect them. However, whooping cough is very dangerous for newborn babies because they are usually not immune for at least the first few months of life and sometimes longer. Take your baby to the doctor if you suspect they have come into contact with someone who has whooping cough.