You did it! For 9 — technically 10 — months, you watched your belly stretch and your ankles swell; you had to pee every 15 minutes and got to experience the joy of pregnancy hemorrhoids. You spent your evenings spooning a ridiculously oversized pillow and you waddled when you walked. Now you have your precious bundle of joy and it seems like there is nothing else you could want – except maybe a little freedom?
Yes, motherhood, especially for a brand-new mom, can make you go a little stir-crazy. You’re tied to a 3-hour alarm clock who’s depending on you for her every need; you feel like a mother cow or if you’re bottle-feeding, a short order cook from Waffle House. You’re suffering from sleep deprivation and probably do not remember when your last shower happened. If anyone needs to get out of the house, it’s you! Of course, this begs the question, “When?” When is it safe to take a newborn out? The good news is that you can get out and about almost as soon as you’d like – but we’ve got some simple suggestions that will put both you and your little one at ease.
- Caution on Crowds: While your infant is still little, you should pass on large gatherings and crowded places, especially ones where everyone will want to play “Pass the Precious Baby.” First, large crowds can be noisy and bright, and the loud sounds and harsh, interior lights can be overwhelming to an infant. Secondly, where there are lots of people, there are lots of germs. For older children and adults, a fever can mean a day in bed and some pain reliever, but for an infant, it’s much more. If a baby under 8 weeks old spikes a high fever, this can result in an Emergency Room visit and typically a spinal tap to rule out serious problems like meningitis. So, while the social inclination may be tempting and of course, you’d love to show off your beautiful new baby, it’s just not worth the risk. From a medical standpoint, take it easy and avoid crowded places until your baby’s older – you’ll be happy you did.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get out for walks with the stroller, assuming the weather is right. The fresh air and sunshine will do you both good, and it’s a wonderful, healthy way to escape from the walls you may feel are closing in around you. When walking your little one, let people admire but from a distance. You can politely keep the stroller cover down so that your child stays safely – and respectfully – at a distance. Admirers can still ooh and ahh, but you and your child have the personal space you desire.
- Go when She wants to Go: In other words, try to time your outing when your baby is at a content stage in her day. Right before a feeding, when she’s sleepy or when it’s almost time for a diaper change is not good planning. Rather, go for a walk in the stroller after she’s been fed and has a clean diaper. Let her experience the outside world when she’s in a good mood and can enjoy it all through her inquisitive eyes.
- Wardrobe is everything: When you and your baby go out, ensure that she is dressed properly. All too often, we tend to overdress our babies, worrying that they might get too cold. Use the same layers on your child as you are wearing yourself; always have a blanket or two to cover hands and feet, and when the temperature dips, you want to cover your child’s head. Likewise, in the warmer months, dress your child in lightweight, cool clothing and always have sunscreen and a hat to protect your baby’s precious face (Tips for How to Apply Sunscreen). When the weather’s bad – too cold, rainy or even too hot, skip the outing and stay inside.
- Be Prepared: One of my first outings with my newborn was to lunch on a beautiful lake with family. I had the diaper bag prepped with binkys, bottles, diapers and wipes, even two different changes of clothes and her blanket. All of which I promptly left on the kitchen table. An hour later, I had to raid the Baby Aisle at the nearest CVS. Whenever you take your newborn out, have all the supplies and gear, you could possibly need. Formula, bottles, pacifiers, blankets – your diaper bag may be filled to the brim but you won’t regret it!
- Look, Don’t Touch: All too often, friends and family members – even perfect strangers – want to touch your new baby. As her mom, it’s your right and your prerogative to politely say “No.” People may not understand; a few may even be offended but simply explain that your child’s immune system is still delicate and in those early days and weeks, she shouldn’t be held and handled by a variety of people. Likewise, have your spouse or other friends and family members who may be helping during these early days to back you up. For your immediate circle, it’s well within your right to ask that they wash their hands before holding the baby; again, not because your family is germy but because your baby has little to no protection. Except you, of course. And on that note, be sure you have hand sanitizer in your diaper bag and purse, and ensure you have the opportunity to wash your hands frequently.
For a new mom – or even an experienced mom with a new baby – it’s normal to feel isolated and have some cabin fever. So, don’t let your four walls close you in – get out and enjoy the world together. Just trust your “mom-sense” and follow your maternal instincts. After all, your baby’s in good hands – yours!
The Baby Pibu Team