How to prepare for a newborn’s first trip out?
So your confinement period is finally over. Now, a slight case of cabin fever is setting in as you feel the urge to step into the great outdoors with your little one — for the first time since his birth!
The thought of taking your newborn out for the first time can be daunting, especially if you are a first-time parent. But it doesn’t have to be that way as long as you keep the tips and information presented in this article in mind.
Newborn’s first trip out: When is it safe?
When can I take my newborn out in public?
While there are no hard and fast rules about when it’s suitable to head outdoors with your little one for some fresh air, it is advisable to keep them away from crowded public places for some time.
Public places such as malls, airports, train stations and movie theatres are often teeming with germs. While an older child’s or adult’s immune systems are strong enough to deal with infections, your newborn’s immune system is still developing and not able enough to fight off nasty bugs.
In fact, medical experts, including an ER paediatrician, recommend keeping your newborn away from such places for at least 6 to 8 weeks, to prevent the risk of infection. Some mums — regardless of destination — choose to wait for this amount of time before heading out with their baby.
How long should baby’s first outing be?
Your newborn’s first trip out should be brief, lasting no more than 20 to 30 minutes. They can gradually lengthen as long as your infant is satisfied.
Because newborns are frequently irritated when exposed to wind, use a carrier or stroller hood for protection. When the temperature dips below freezing, do not leave your baby outside for too long as she is at risk of frostbite, especially if she is not moving about.
Before we present you with various potential ‘destinations’ for that memorable first trip, it’s so important you first learn about an item that will be your trusted companion for years to come: the diaper bag.
What to pack in your diaper bag
Image source: iStock
Say hello to your new best friend: your diaper bag! It’s best to overprepare for your newborn’s first day out.
Each time you head out with your little one, ensure your bag is packed with the following:
- Diapers: One diaper for every 2 hours you are out and a few extra to be on the safe side.
- Wet wipes: Pop in a travel pack, or pack some in a clear resealable bag.
- Diaper cream: Look for travel packs
- Changing mat: Some diaper bags come with one, but if yours doesn’t, pack a blanket that can double up as one.
- Burp cloths or washcloths: Put in as many as you think you’ll need, then add a few more.
- Blanket: Pick a lightweight blanket or wrap to keep handy in your diaper bag.
- Change of clothes …or two: Throw in some tiny pairs of socks too.
- Extra bags: Use these for dirty diapers (toss if they’re disposable, bring home if they’re cloth) and clothing.
- Hand sanitiser: For quick hand-cleaning purposes.
- A snack for mum: Because you will get hungry, especially if you are breastfeeding
- Baby’s pacifier: Because mummy needs all the help she can get!
- Milk bottle with 1 feed: If you are expressing milk, pack a bottle of it, which spares you the hassle of expressing while out and about.
Other items to consider:
- Nursing cover: You’ll probably need to nurse your baby at least once while on the go, so pack one of these if it helps you feel more comfortable nursing in public.
- Extra top for yourself: For those times you are drenched in your baby’s spit-up or vomit (or both!).
- Extra zip lock bag for dirty clothes: Both yours (see point above!) and baby’s.
- Nursing and vaginal pads: Especially for you during the first few weeks when you’ll be bleeding, and leaking milk!
- A portable breast pump: This is handy if you will be out for a long time and really need to express milk.
Remember to dress your baby in easy-to-remove clothing when you head to the paediatrician’s office
Destination: Paediatrician’s office
Stepping out so soon after your baby was born might be a bit overwhelming. The first thing on the list for your newborn’s first trip out should be a visit to her doctor. And since you can’t avoid those ever-so-important trips to the paediatrician’s office, the next best thing is to be well-prepared for the outing.
How to plan:
- Book your appointment in advance and try to get a late-morning appointment. While it’s true that baby is up at 4 am, getting ready to leave the house may take much longer than you expect. So you need to factor in extra time to clean the baby’s diaper because he decided to poo the moment you stepped out, or nurse him because decided he was hungry the moment he saw your car keys!
- Make sure you dress your baby in clothes that are easy to remove (a onesie with leg snaps, for example) as the doctor may ask you to remove your baby’s clothing in order to do a physical examination or weigh him.
- If you are not comfortable breastfeeding without a cover, don’t forget to pack one too, as your little one with his still-erratic feeding schedule, may need a feed while you are there.
Remember: Two words: mummy brain. So please don’t forget to take a notebook so you can jot down any important information or instructions you might get from the doctor! Read this for more information on your newborn’s checkup schedule.
Destination: Lunch or dinner out
When can I take my newborn out to a restaurant?
If you’re longing to catch up with your best friend/s over your favourite meal, by all means, book that well deserved lunch date with your little one in tow.
Just make sure to plan everything accordingly to make sure baby is well and safe on your quick get-together.
How to plan:
- Until your little one is a little bit older, avoid fancy restaurants where he could shatter the peace and quiet of the surroundings with one hungry wail! A more casual place with a bit more din will help hide your little one’s “feed me now!” cries.
- Take a carry-cot or the car seat in with you, so baby can (hopefully) snooze in it, leaving your hands free to enjoy your meal.
- Order a dish that you can easily eat with one hand, in case your little one decides the only place he wants to be is in your arms.
- Check in advance if the restaurant you pick has a baby room, in case you need to change your baby’s diaper (you probably will have to). Request a corner table or another secluded place.
Remember: Do not keep hot drinks or food items like coffee or soup near your baby, and watch that the waiter doesn’t pass such items (including plates) over your baby.
Avoid heavy-duty shopping trips at first, sticking to just the basics.
If you’re going to have to do regular supermarket runs with your baby, make your first trip there a practice run, where you don’t need to buy a heap of items.
How to plan:
- As always when heading out with your baby, avoid times when things get really busy, e.g. weekends, days leading up to Chinese New Year or other holidays. This will be less stressful for both you and the baby (less chance of a random auntie trying to squeeze his cheeks) and will greatly reduce his exposure to air-borne bugs.
- Park your car as close as possible to the entrance of the supermarket.
- Use a sling or baby carrier to keep yourself hands-free.
- Take a list so you can grab what you need fast, and head out as fast.
- Select the items you need the most first just in case you need to make a hasty exit.
Remember: A baby carrier is really the most practical way of carrying your baby when in a supermarket. Being close to you will keep him calm and quiet and your hands free to grab those items that you need from the supermarket shelves. A baby carrier also means your little one will be close to you while you pack your bags in the car.
Destination: Park or stroll around your local neighbourhood
This is probably the easiest trip to plan for and one that will give you exercise and fresh air.
How to plan:
- Since you’re going to be outdoors, head out when the sun is not at its hottest — early in the morning or later in the afternoon are great times.
- Ensure that you take plenty of water for yourself and stay hydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding.
- Choose a spot with plenty of shade and seating. Singapore has a great selection of family-friendly parks, so why not make one closest to you your destination?
Remember: You may be approached by friendly strangers wanted to cuddle or touch your baby and/or offer you parenting advice. Be polite, but firm in telling them not to touch your newborn as this poses the very real risk of passing an infection to him.
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Destination: Relative’s house
So you just can’t avoid that request from your ‘favourite’ auntie for a visit anymore. Don’t stress — you can do it!
How to plan:
- Give yourself a time limit — one hour is long enough — and make your move once this time is up.
- It’s best if you can head out soon after a feed so hopefully, your little one doesn’t demand a feed in the hour that you are there. This will help in avoiding that awkward situation where your well-meaning auntie man-handles your breasts when trying to show you how to breastfeed your baby.
- If older children live at the house you are going to be visiting, try to pick a time when they will be at school or preschool. Newborns are so vulnerable to infections and we all know that young children bring home a range of bugs and viruses from school.
If you are comfortable with doing so (I strongly urge you to do this), check beforehand if any young children at the home you are visiting are sick, or have been sick recently. If yes, choose a different day for your visit.
Remember: Politely ask your relative/s to wash their hands before touching or carrying your baby. Again, this is to reduce to risk of an infection being passed to him. No kissing of your baby, either.
Safety tips to keep in mind when out and about with baby
It’s important to protect your little one from direct sunlight when going out.
It’s so nice to be out with the baby after weeks or months of being cooped up at home. A change of scenery might benefit the little bub as well. However, make sure to keep baby as safe as possible should you decide to bring her out of the house. Here are a few reminders:
- Get your baby’s car seat installed properly — it should be rear-facing. Never carry your baby in a moving car. If he demands a feed while you are driving, pull over safely and then nurse him. Read this article for car safety rules in Singapore.
- Never leave your baby in a car alone, not even for a second.
- Dress them appropriately for the weather. Check the baby’s clothes to ensure it is weather appropriate. You should also include a spare garment or blanket in case of an emergency change or extra layers are required. As a general rule, outfit your baby for the weather and then add one more garment. You should also ensure that they are comfortable throughout the outing.
- Have a sun-protection strategy in place. A little sunshine is good, but baby skin burns more easily, so keep it covered with clothing and a sunbonnet or buried in the shade.
Because infants are more vulnerable to the negative effects of sunscreen, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend keeping infants in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
In a pinch, though, applying modest amounts of sunscreen on exposed skin may be OK. If your infant is under 6 months old, simply consult with your paediatrician first. Click here to learn more about sun exposure for newborns.
- Do your best to keep your baby out of direct sunlight until he is at least six months old. Check with your doctor about an appropriate sunscreen and how to apply it, if you can’t completely protect him from the sun with clothing or shade.
- Always strap your baby securely in his stroller, even if you think he can’t move around much. Don’t place pillows or fluffy blankets in a stroller as these could suffocate your baby. Also, do not hang heavy items on the stroller handles as they could cause the stroller to tip over backwards
- Do not cover your baby’s stroller with a blanket to provide shade — it can be harmful to his health. Read this article to learn why.
Is it safe to take my newborn outside during the COVID-19 pandemic?
When can newborn go outside for a walk?
When can my newborn go out for a walk?
Yes, it’s fine to go for a walk in the fresh air, but because the COVID-19 pandemic is still active, it’s critical that you avoid crowds and keep a safe, physical distance from your newborn. It’s also critical that every adult — outside of your immediate family — thoroughly washes his or her hands, wears a face covering or mask, and avoids touching the mask.
Some places, such as doctors’ offices, allow parents to wait in their car before an appointment, or to bring babies through a separate door and then wait in a space where they can be safely separated from other families. If possible, avoid going to the grocery store, restaurants, and other indoor venues where ventilation may be poor and social distance may be difficult.
How can I keep my newborn safe in crowds?
Keeping your newborn safe in crowds is best achieved by avoiding all crowds. If you must go somewhere crowded, wear your baby in a sling, wrap, age-appropriate carrier, or keep her in a stroller so others don’t get too close. On your newborn’s first trip out, keep as much physical distance as possible, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask (infants, however, should not don face coverings).
It pays to be especially cautious during the first month because your baby’s immune system has had less time to strengthen. (This is especially critical for premature newborns or those with other health difficulties.) Prior to COVID-19, clinicians would normally allow a crowd outing after the baby received her immunisation round at 2 months of age.
However, this advice varies from doctor to doctor because newborns are still vulnerable to viral infections that are not avoidable with immunisations. (This is why washing hands and avoiding sick people is so important.)
Not only do babies have a more difficult time fighting off illnesses like respiratory infections, but they are also at a higher risk for deadly bacterial infections. As a result, any fever (or unusually low temperature) must be thoroughly investigated.
Do Babies Have to Wear Masks?
Masks are generally suggested for children over the age of two, according to the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP). Babies should not wear masks; in fact, putting a mask on your newborn is deemed harmful. Outside the home, however, all adults and children above the age of two in your household should wear cloth facial coverings if social separation (six feet) cannot be maintained.
Coronavirus is distributed mostly by respiratory droplets, and face coverings are one of the most effective ways to keep the virus from spreading and infecting others.
By reducing risk within your family, you reduce the risk for your infant.
When You Get Home
When you arrive home from an outing, make sure to wash your newborn’s hands, especially if they have been touched by anyone. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands to avoid passing anything from yourself to the infant. Some parents prefer to give their kids a bath after returning home from outings, particularly shopping trips.
Remember, the safest place for your newborn is still at home with your family and with an environment she is getting familiar with. If you can postpone unnecessary trips, it will be best to ensure that your infant’s exposure to germs can be kept to a minimum.
Moreover, don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s paediatrician about your newborn’s first trip out and how you should go about it.
With additional report by Matt Doctor
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