Your newborn's first trip out: A guide for parents
At what age is it safe to take your baby out? What must you take with you and how do you plan for this trip? All this and more in this article...
So your confinement period is finally over. Now, a slight case of cabin fever is setting is 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?
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 6-8 weeks, to prevent the risk of infection. Some mums — regardless of destination — choose to wait for this amount of time before heading out with baby.
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
Say hello to your new best friend: your diaper bag! 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 clean 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
A portable breast pump: This is handy if you will be out for a long time and really need to express milk.
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!
Destination: Paediatrician’s office
Stepping out so soon after you baby was born might be a bit overwhelming. But 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 4am, getting ready to leave the house may take much longer than you expect. So you need to factor in extra time to clean 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!
How to plan for a walk around the local neighbourhood, or lunch out… and more! Please head to the next page.
Destination: Lunch out
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.
How to plan:
- Avoid rush lunch-hour, where ever you might be dining. Go for brunch or a late lunch so you get to skip the majority of the crowds.
- 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).
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.
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.
- 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 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 round your local neighbourhood
This is probably the easiest trip to plan for and one that will give you exercise and fresh air.
- 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.
So it’s time to ‘show off’ your baby to those relatives who have been demanding to see him. How do you handle this trip? Head to the next page for information on this, as well as some really important safety tips.
Destination: Relative’s house
So you just can’t avoid that request from your ‘favourite’ auntie for a visit any more. Don’t stress — you can do it!
- 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
- Please 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 along, not even for a second.
- Check that your baby’s vaccinations are up-to-date if you must head to a public place such as a mall due to unavoidable circumstances.
- 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.
*Please note this article is a guide only. For any queries related to your baby’s health and wellbeing, please contact your doctor without delay.
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