Attention, new mums: You can leave the house with your baby and live to tell the tale. But we know it’s a daunting prospect! Maternity nurse Katie Thomas has tips to help you enjoy getting out and about with your baby.
Getting out and about with your newborn can be a daunting thought, particularly if it is your first baby. Knowing what to bring, the best places to go, and then imagining all of the possible public baby meltdowns can be overwhelming!
Starting small and working your way up, gradually building confidence in yourself and your baby is the key. Go for small walks within those first few weeks; fresh air and sunshine can make the world of difference to your state of mind. Fresh air and daylight is known to help improve baby’s sleep and helps to regulate their circadian rhythm. Meeting up with other mums or friends, doing a supermarket shop, a trip to the GP, or light shopping at the mall might be the next steps in your ventures out. Asking a friend or family member to join you on the first outings can be helpful if you are feeling particularly anxious about coping on your own.
It’s all in the timing
The timing of going out and about can make or break a successful outing. Newborns generally wake up hungry and wanting to be fed, so aiming to leave the house after a feed and change is ideal, meaning they will gaze around at the change of environment for a little while and then hopefully fall asleep. If you’re going to be out during feed time, just ensure your nappy bag is fully stocked with all of the necessities. Most new babies thankfully will sleep anywhere during the first few weeks; having a sleep cue that you use at home such as white noise, swaddle, dummy etc, will help if they are a little unsettled.
Keep calm and carry on
If your baby does get really unsettled when you are out, there are some handy tips to try and keep everyone calm. First of all take a deep breath, don’t worry about what other people are thinking. Generally people are very understanding and can even be helpful. Accept help when it is offered, even if it is just somebody helping you with your shopping bags, or holding open a door for you; there is never anything wrong with asking for some assistance. Try to work out what is upsetting your baby, could it be hunger, tired, over-tired, pain or simply just overwhelmed? Moving away to a quieter calmer space with your baby and trying to settle them there is the best option. Offer a top up feed if you think it may help, or just some quiet cuddles and rocking might do the trick. If they seem to be getting inconsolable and you are unsure what to do, just head back home and try not to feel defeated. Every baby has their unsettled days, and sometimes outings during those times can just be too much. Try again another day.
Seek out baby-friendly options
There are some things out there that make life much easier for families with little ones. For example, supermarkets with trolleys that can hold a capsule in the front, or with two infant seats, or an infant and a toddler seat, or two toddler seats! These can be blessings when shopping with multiple children or a newborn. Make the most of those parent car-parks out the front of malls and supermarkets; the wider spacing and front row spots can make a huge difference. Also parent rooms at malls and places like the zoo, can be a lifesaver. They provide a seat for feeding your baby, a change station, and often a more spacious toilet that can fit a pram or a capsule.
Having people you can reach out to to help in stressful times is really important. It could be other mums that can take your older children to sports practice, drop them home after school or someone that can be at home with the baby if you don’t want to disrupt their routine. However you do it, don’t feel guilty that you can’t be in two places at once. No one is judging if you need to do an emergency feed in the car, or you miss an after-school activity. Do what you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
When out and about with your baby, you want to ensure you have everything you might need in a nappy bag. It can be easy to go overboard and take half of the house with you, but think about how long you will be out for and what you would realistically use in that time frame at home.
Here is a checklist of the necessities; have these items ready to go even for small trips out, and ensure you re-stock after you’ve used anything.
- One nappy per hour you will be out, plus a couple of spares
- Wipes for nappy changes but also handy for cleaning changing surfaces and hands
- Changing pad; a lot of nappy bags will come with a reusable pad, otherwise they are cheap to buy, or some parents prefer the disposable ones
- Plastic nappy bags for dirty nappies – also good for soiled clothing or blankets
- One spare full outfit including a hat/sunscreen if it’s sunny, warm hat in colder months
- Clean dummy (if your baby uses one)
- Bottle/boiled water/formula if bottle feeding
- Cloth/bib/cloth nappy – something to wipe up any spills
- Blanket – for sleep time or for laying baby on to play
Here is a list of extra items for the longer outings or times that you want to be more prepared. This will also pass as a basic overnight or trip away bag for baby, with added nappies and clothing.
- White noise, swaddle or sleep aid if your baby uses one
- Nappy cream
- Hand sanitiser
- Breast pads
- First aid kit, plasters/pamol
- Solid food and spoon if solid feeding
- Sling or frontpack
If you’ve got older children this bag will also need
- Spare undies
- A few appropriate toys
- A lot more wipes!!