In the days and weeks after giving birth to a baby, a new mom will often feel overwhelmed and exhausted, but she may also feel isolated and alone. Unfortunately, the idea of leaving the house with a new baby can be a terrifying thought for many new moms.
I know after I had my first child and quit my corporate job, I had a serious case of cabin fever. I needed to get out of the house, but I didn’t know where to go or what to do. Many new moms feel the same way, and many of them have questions and fears.
What if I need to breastfeed?
Where can I change a diaper?
What about germs?
How young is too young?
These are all valid questions and concerns, but thankfully, going out with a baby isn’t as hard as you might think – you just need to be prepared.
What You Will Need:
Preparation is key to an easy and relaxing excursion with a new baby. As long as you have the essentials, you’ll find that being out with your baby is almost as easy as being at home.
• Stroller or baby carrier: Depending on where you’re heading, make sure to take a lightweight stroller or baby carrier. If you’re heading out on a beach or nature walk, a baby carrier is the only way to go, but if you’re staying indoors, a stroller will be invaluable because it functions as a carrier, bed, and even a changing station in a pinch.
• Lightweight blankets: A large, lightweight swaddling blanket is an essential tool for every new mom because of its multiple functions. It can be used to swaddle, as a sunshade or a breastfeeding cover, just to name a few.
• Formula: This is an obvious one, but if you’re formula feeding your baby, make sure you have enough formula to make it through the time that you’re out.
• Diapers and wipes: Newborns go through lots of diapers, so whether you’re using cloth diapers or disposables, make sure you have enough to last for the time you plan to be out…plus a few extras just in case.
• An extra set (or two) of clothes: Blowouts happen. A lot. It’s a fact of life for babies, so make sure you’re prepared to change your baby’s clothes, just in case.
• Miscellaneous essentials: Make sure you have everything for your baby’s unique needs, whether it’s medicine, pacifiers or diaper rash cream. If it’s essential to your baby’s comfort, make sure you include it in your diaper bag.
Where to Go:
The newborn stage is actually one of the easiest baby stages to take a baby out because they sleep so much. As long as you have a stroller or an infant carrier, there’s a long list of places you can visit with your child.
• Take a walk at the park or beach.
• Go to a museum.
• Visit the library.
• Go to a book group.
• Attend a mom’s group such as MOPS.
• Go to an outdoor concert or movie.
• Eat out at a kid-friendly restaurant.
• Grab coffee at a local coffee shop.
• Visit the zoo.
Questions and What-Ifs:
Many new moms have a lot of questions and what-ifs, and that’s completely understandable. I’ve tried to answer some of the questions many new moms have when they’re contemplating taking their new baby out and about.
• What if I need to breastfeed? Many new moms don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. I remember my first outing with my daughter. We went to a restaurant for dinner, and I had to breastfeed her. Breastfeeding was still uncomfortable, but I put on my cover and went ahead and fed her at the table. It wasn’t easy, but it was a learning experience. If you’re uncomfortable breastfeeding out in the open, you can look at your options. Are you near your car? Head out to the car and sit in the backseat. Are you at a shopping center? Many stores have lounges for feeding babies. Are you outside? Find a secluded spot, lay down your multi-function baby blanket and sit on the ground. Or, if the thought of breastfeeding outside of your house is too much to handle, pumping before you leave the house is always an option.
• What if I need to change a diaper? Changing tables are overrated. Changing a baby can be done in a stroller, backseat or even the ground if you have a big enough changing pad. However, if you are near a public changing table, make sure to have a changing pad (disposable or reusable) on hand so you don’t have to lay your newborn on a dirty surface.
• What about germs? Germs are, understandably, a big fear for new moms attempting to take their children out, but thankfully, when they’re still small and less mobile, it’s easier to keep them from germs. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you don’t want them to touch or get near your baby – it’s not rude, it’s protection. Use a front carrier, which will keep your baby close to you and less open to public curiosity. Carry hand wipes to wash his/her hands if someone does grab your baby’s hand. And, if you want to be really careful, it’s best to avoid overly crowded areas, such as shopping malls, until your baby is at least 2 months old, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous places you can visit during that first couple of months.
• How young is too young? This is a good question, but the answer really depends on the mom. You can take a newborn out to certain places as soon as you – and your doctor – feel comfortable with you getting around. If you can walk or drive when your baby is a few days old, don’t hesitate to head out if you need to get out of the house. Now, many pediatricians will tell you to avoid certain places, such as shopping malls or large functions, until your child is a couple of months old because their immune system is still weak. However, as a mom, it’s up to you to figure out what’s best for you and your baby, and if you decide to visit a church or the mall, just make sure to take proper precautions to protect your baby.