The first time you leave the house with your newborn can feel nerve-wracking, but by following these simple steps you can make the day run smoothly for you both.
It can be helpful to remember that there’s no ‘right time’ to go on your first outing. Some new parents can’t wait to get out with their little one, others are happy to stay in a cocoon at home for as long as possible. Whatever feels right to you is totally acceptable and you can take the time you need.
Whenever you decide to venture out for the first time, these practical tips will help you be prepared to make the day a success!
1. Choose your destination
Decide exactly where you want to go. Doula, Samantha Gunn, points out that going somewhere familiar can make the outing less stressful.
Whether you choose to head to the supermarket, meet up with a friend for coffee, or stroll to your local park, you’ll feel more relaxed if it’s a place that’s familiar to you and you know your way around. If you’re driving, factor in practical considerations like ease of parking, and be prepared to add extra time to get the baby and the stroller in and out of the car.
2. Plan a trip close to home
Staying close to home means that you can cut down on travel time and stretch out the outing time. Some babies love the car, others find it stressful; after all, they’re used to being attached to you 24/7, and being in a car seat or stroller for an extended period of time is a new experience for them. Being close to home will also make it easier to get back for their next nap time if you’d like them to sleep at home.
3. Know where the baby change rooms are
If you’re planning a trip to a shop or mall, check ahead of time where the toilets with baby change stations and breastfeeding rooms are. You might get through the whole trip without needing to change their nappy or feed, but if you don’t, being able to do this in comfort will make all the difference to your trip.
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4. Bring a friend
Having an extra set of hands (not to mention the company!) can make the trip easy and fun. Consider who you’d like to spend the time with and who will be understanding of your new baby’s needs.
5. Check the car seat
If you had a hospital birth, you’ll likely already have the car seat fitted and installed properly from when you brought your baby home. But before you take your baby in the car, have a practice at adjusting the seat straps and make sure you have things in place to keep your baby comfy. Use sun shades like the Dreambaby Adjusta-Car Shade Stretch-It, Shape-It, Fit-It to keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes on the trip.
6. Practice using the carrier or stroller
While you’ll get the hang of it in no time, the first day you leave the house with your baby is not the day you want to be fiddling around with carrier clasps and stroller levers for the first time.
Have a few practices at putting the carrier on and off by yourself and opening and closing the stroller in the days before your outing. Samantha advises that if you’re using a carrier, make sure it’s hip-healthy to support your baby’s legs. You can choose one that’s HDI-approved (International Hip Dysplasia Institute) like the Chicco Ultra Soft Infant Carrier.
7. Have a well-stocked nappy bag
Make sure you pack nappies, wipes, nappy cream, a change mat, a change of clothes for baby, a cardigan, beanie or hat, extra socks, a bib, a wrap (this can come in handy as shade, extra covering, or to wipe up spills), and sterilised bottles or dummies if they’re using them.
8. Include your own supplies in the nappy bag
Breastfeeding can make you very hungry and thirsty so pack snacks and a drink bottle for yourself. Pack breast pads like Medela Safe & Dry Ultra Thin Nursing Pads, and if you can fit one, also include a light change of top for yourself. This way, if your baby has a milky dribble on your shirt you’ll be able to freshen up if you need to.
9. Give yourself time to get ready
Doing things uninterrupted is a thing of the past. Chances are, the second you hop in the shower is the second your baby starts crying. How long did it take you to get ready pre-baby? Think of that and double it. You can plan for this by getting ready while your baby is still asleep, or even get your bag ready the day before. Just mentally prepare to stop your routine to attend to the baby if required – interruptions are inevitable!
10. Get ready while someone else is at home
If you have the luxury of having a partner at home or a friend who can be with the baby, plan ahead and ask them to care for the baby while you shower and dress – it will make getting ready much more relaxing if you know someone can attend to the baby if needed.
11. Feed your baby right before leaving
Take some time to change and feed your baby just before you leave the house. They’ll be more comfortable to travel if they’re clean, dry and fed – and so will you. And you’ll have a bit more time to enjoy your outing before bub needs another feed or nappy change.
12. Be prepared for crying
Babies cry. But being out in public with a crying baby for the first time can be extremely stressful for new parents. While you’re doing everything you can to make them comfortable, know that your baby might cry from time to time and that’s okay. To you, your baby crying is the most stressful sound in the world and you may feel conscious of other people being subjected to it. Remember that people are used to hearing babies cry and it’s completely normal as bub adjusts to this noisy new world we’re introducing them to.
13. Make the outing short
You or your baby may get tired or stressed, so plan for a short outing for your first trip. Think of it like a test run, with many more outings with your little one to come!
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