By Erin Ollila
If you have ever been told that newborns aren’t allowed to leave the house, know that what you are hearing is simply an old wives’ tale. There are currently no laws stating what newborns are allowed to do, and the only people who get to determine that are…drumroll… you and your partner!
However, it can be a bit unnerving bringing your tiny little baby out into the great, big world for the first time (or, well, any time when they’re so young and fragile). Know that it is ok to feel a little anxious, but don’t let that fear hold you back at home.
There are so many things you can do with your baby. Enjoy this time you have together. For a successful trip, consider these four suggestions.
Plan for Safety
There is a good chance that the first time you take your newborn out will be for the trip home from the hospital or birthing center, so focus your attention on car seat safety. Ideally, your car seat base has been installed by then and you have practiced using the car seat before the baby gets here.
If you have time, get comfortable holding the car seat, too. They aren’t light. So put some weights in your carrier and walk it around your home. This practice may feel silly, but you don’t want to feel awkward holding the carrier, especially if you’re holding it while walking on snow or ice.
When it’s time to take the baby out, make sure you position the chest clips correctly and there is no slack in the belts when buckling them in. Don’t put any accessories into the car seat that didn’t come directly from the manufacturer, such as toys or shoulder pads. Finally, make sure that the seat clicks into the base correctly before you drive away. If the weather is cold, draping your baby’s legs (over the safety belt) with a light blanket is okay.
Babies are like magnets to people. Everyone will want to touch them, hold them, or kiss them, and you may find yourself fending off unwanted attention. But what happens when some of these people are sick—especially if they don’t know it yet!
Germs don’t discriminate, so it’s best to avoid crowds and limit the interactions your baby has with adults and children, especially during the newborn stage. A simple sneeze might seem like no big deal, but those airborne particles could make your baby very sick, so stay away from unnecessary crowds until your baby is a few months old.
Does isolating yourself cause anxiety? You only need to avoid crowded places like malls, grocery stores, and indoor playgrounds. A walk around your block in a stroller should be okay. You and your partner (or family and friends!) can take turns running errands, and in no time, your baby’s immune system will be stronger and better able to handle the germs of others.
People love to touch babies. And not just family and friends—strangers, too. Before traveling anywhere with baby, determine what you’re comfortable with and what you aren’t. You may decide that you don’t want any strangers to touch your baby or that no friends or family are allowed to kiss your baby on the hands or face (both smart boundaries to enforce for a newborn).
Even if you’re more relaxed with who can come into contact with your baby, here’s a helpful rule to keep them safe: anyone who touches your baby should wash their hands first.
A physical boundary is also helpful for traveling with a newborn (even if you’re just traveling to your local Target). Car seat covers can provide a darkened space that helps your baby sleep while also acting as a stop sign to curious strangers. No touching, please! Just make sure that it’s well ventilated and your baby isn’t covered for too long in the summer, when temperatures can make it too hot under that cover.
Dress for the Weather
Dressing a newborn is tough! Of course you want to put on the cute little outfits you got at your baby shower, but you aren’t sure how many changes of clothes to bring with you, and whether the style you chose is appropriate for the weather.
If you’re in doubt, dress the baby in one layer more than what you’re wearing. So, if you’re wearing a T-shirt and shorts during the summer, you’ll want to put a breathable long-sleeved onesie and pants on your baby for a trip out of the house. Babies under six months cannot wear sunscreen, so don’t forget to grab a wide brimmed hat to help cover their head, neck and shoulders too. Socks are important to protect the skin on their soft feet, as well.
In the winter, a light sweater is best over your baby’s onesie, along with pants and a warm hat. Always remember that layers can be added or removed if you think your baby may be too hot or cold.
And on that note, know that your little one won’t be showing the same behavior as you if he or she is too hot or too cold. Babies can't shiver or sweat, so instead you’ll have to watch for flushed cheeks, damp hair or hairline, and crying.