You’re finally home with your newborn baby, but thinking about being cooped up in the house day in and day out suffocates you. You’d like to go out with your baby and want your life to be as normal as it was before, but your friends and family keep advising you against it. Moreover, you are scared too, to take your precious little baby outside. You’re bound to have questions like, is it safe? Will she be able to adjust to the outside world? Will it be too much for her? What if she gets hungry and I have to breastfeed her in public? What if she’s not ready?
Hey, stop worrying! There is no medical reason that stops you and your baby to go outside and get some fresh air, as long as you both feel up to it and follow some basic safety precautions. But, you should stay at home, if your pediatrician advises you to stay indoors, which usually happens if she has a medical condition or is born prematurely. Your baby at this age has a very weak immune system and is susceptible to illnesses. Before going out, you need to make sure that you don’t under or overdress your baby, check the weather conditions, keep baby supplies handy, keep your baby out of direct sunlight, use a stroller or a baby carrier and most necessarily avoid crowded places.
How soon can you take a newborn baby outside?
“You cannot take your baby outside the house until she’s 6 weeks old or 2 months’’ is an old wives’ tale. I know this from personal experience when my baby was born, and I wanted to take him out for a walk when he was 2 weeks old, my whole family held an intervention for me (literally an intervention, no kidding!). So, I decided to extensively research on the pros and cons of taking a newborn outside and sought my pediatrician’s advice.
There is no hard and fast medical rule on a particular time-frame on when you can take your baby outside. If your baby has no medical conditions and the weather is perfect, you can take her out for a small stroll. Getting out for fresh air and natural sunlight is good for your baby, especially when she is colicky; early sunrays also provide Vitamin D to your baby.
Things to remember when you take your newborn baby outside
Pack up necessary baby supplies
You don’t want to be in a public place with a full, wet, soiled diaper and no diapers to change your baby into (trust me!). So, before you head out, pack your diaper bag with diapers, wipes, a changing mat, burp cloth, breastfeeding cover, a pacifier and a clean set of clothes to change into in case there are any accidents.
When I used to go out with my son, I make sure to carry a sanitizer with me. The handle of the stroller carry more bacteria than anything else, and you keep touching it and then your baby.
Dress your baby comfortably
Babies cannot regulate their body temperature efficiently like us, but it doesn’t call for you overdressing your newborn. Your baby should be dressed comfortably according to the weather. As a rule of thumb, dress your baby the way you are dressed.
If you’re going to wear a t-shirt, then dress your little one in a long-sleeved t-shirt, and if you’re wearing a sweatshirt, then your baby needs a light jacket. Your baby’s hands and feet should be covered if it’s cold outside. I would suggest you carry an extra blanket in case the temperature drops.
Avoid direct sunlight during the afternoon
It’s best to go out when the weather is not too harsh, and with a newborn baby, it is necessary for their primitive skin must not be exposed in direct sunlight.
Babies under the age of 6 months should not use sunscreen, so keep the baby in the shade. If you’re going on a walk with your pram, then pull the shade down for the baby.
Avoid going to crowded places
Babies don’t develop their immunity till they are 3 months of age and that is the reason why women in some places are restricted from going out with the baby for 2 to 3 months after the delivery. The younger the baby is, the more susceptible she becomes to contagious diseases.
What might cause a mild infection in adults can have adverse effects on the newborn. So, avoid going to crowded places like the supermarket or a large family gathering.
Your baby has just come out of your womb, and the world is a very strange place for her, she’s used to the noises in your womb, so going to a crowded place may even scare your baby.
Use a stroller or a baby carrier
While going out, you can place your baby in a stroller or carry her in a carrier. If you’re using a stroller, put a blanket over it, so that strangers are not tempted to come close and try to hold her.
Using a carrier during the initial walks will also help to build a bond between you and your baby. She will feel warmth and safe being close to you and listening to the familiar heartbeats.
If you’re planning to go out with your baby, don’t go out for the whole day. Try starting small, like a walk around your locality or to your nearest park. Try to learn if your baby is adjusting to the environment, the surrounding noises.
Once you both are comfortable, you can slowly lengthen your trips. As your baby grows, she’ll be more interested in the views, sounds and smells. My advice is to go out when your baby is content and not when she’s fussy, hungry or sleepy.
Try to go after you feed and change her diaper, this way she’ll be more relaxed and be in a good mood.
Bathe your baby after you come home
We can never stop a baby from ever getting sick, but we as parents can at least take precautions for keeping our child from falling sick. So, bathe her after you both come home, especially if you have gone to your relative’s house and if people have touched her.
Adult hands are filled with germs and bacteria, so to avoid transferring them to you and your baby, it’s better for both of you to wash yourselves.
Most parents I know prefer to bathe their baby, but if you feel that it’s unnecessary, then you can just wipe her with warm water and cloth.
How to protect my newborn baby in different seasons when outside
When going out, parents and grandparents bundle up their baby in multiple layers which can cause great discomfort to the baby if she’s not dressed according to the weather. During summer, you want to check if the temperature is not exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Dress your newborn in a cute onesie and carry an extra blanket.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends not taking your little one out between 10 am to 4 pm. So, avoid being in the harsh sun rays and don’t stay outside with your baby for a prolonged time in the heat. Newborns cannot sweat, which is the natural way to keep the body temperature down, so they can suffer a heat stroke much quicker than you.
As your baby cannot regulate her body temperature as efficiently as you can, they are more susceptible to cold during winter. This also means that heat escapes faster from their body, and can cause hypothermia. Avoid going out if the temperature is below -15 degree Fahrenheit.
What are the benefits of taking my newborn baby outside
Getting a bit of fresh air for you and your baby is never bad. Although, babies are not advised to go out to crowded places because of their weak immunity, going out in the park in the morning or even your backyard is good for both you and your baby. Soaking up the early sunrays exposes your baby to Vitamin D, which is good for their development.
Going out for a stroll is helpful for new mothers fighting postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a serious condition many mothers go through, and spending little time alone with your baby outside can take your mind off of things and may give you a positive perspective on things.
So, in cutting a long story short, it is safe to say that – Yes! It is okay for you and your newborn baby to go outside for a little while keeping the above conditions in mind.
Try to be assertive around people who want to hold your baby, tell them they need to sanitize their hands first. Caring for her entails a combination of guts, instincts, professional guidance, and a little bit of common sense, and along with tons of research, find fellow parents whom you can talk to and share experiences.
You got this, Mama!