Tips to make the first outing with your newborn easier

Your very first outing with your newborn is a pretty big deal, isn’t it? Those first few weeks getting to know your little bundle can be overwhelming for new mothers. The thought of leaving the house, even to go out for a coffee, can seem insurmountable.

As daunting as it is, it’s important that you take the plunge because, while you might be completely absorbed in your new baby, the four walls of your house can quickly feel like they are closing in.

By following these simple tips, we hope that going out with your baby for the first time is made easier.

Tips to make the first outing with your newborn easier

  • Make the first trip the easiest. Choose your local coffee shop, or somewhere that you can walk to. That way if things go ‘pear shaped’ you can turn around and come home. That first burst of fresh air will inspire you to go again, and once you’re confident with casual strolls with your baby you can move on to the next steps.
  • Plan ahead for appointments. One appointment that all new mums need to keep is the six-week postpartum check-up with their doctor or midwife. More often than not, this will involve a car trip. It may be your first time driving alone with your baby (particularly if you had a caesarean birth). The best thing you can do is book it for mid to late morning, that way you’ll have several hours to get organised. Leave half an hour earlier than you normally would, so you can be confident that you will arrive on time. Call the doctor’s office to check if they are running late, so you can bring extra feeds if you’re bottle feeding, or a snack for yourself for while you wait.
  • Lower your expectations. Choose somewhere casual so you’re not worrying about feeding, crying or fussiness. Try to make your first lunch date with someone who has children – they will understand if you’re feeling stressed and will be able to offer practical help. Order something you can eat with one hand, just in case you are feeding or holding your baby when your food arrives. Ask for the bill when you order your last item, that way if you need to make a quick dash, you won’t have to wait for the waiter to bring it.
  • Start small. Rather than making it a major shopping expedition, pop in to the local supermarket with your baby in a sling or carrier, and pick up a few things you need for dinner that night. While you’re there, take a quick look at how the trolleys with baby capsules work so you’ll be prepared when you come to do your first big shop. Remember to get your basics first, so if you have to make a quick exit you’ll at least have some of the more important items.
  • Be prepared. The key to car journeys is planning. Look at the map, estimate your travel time and pinpoint places to stop along the way for feeds. Pack a bag with plenty of nappies, wipes, 2-3 changes of clothing, change mat, plastic bag for dirty clothes, a change of clothes for you, burp cloths, a blanket, formula and bottles for more feeds than you think you’ll need, and hand sanitiser.
  • Time it well. It’s a good idea to go out when your baby is calm and happy. After a feed and nappy change is a great time (but we all know that that’s often easier said than done, because the best time for a poo explosion is just when you’re about to walk out the front door!).
  • Be comfortable. Adjust your baby carrier or sling so that it’s comfortable for you and your baby. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.

When is it safe to leave the house with a new baby?

There’s no rush. In some cultures, the mother is expected to stay in the home with her newborn for a month or more. However, it’s fine to take your baby out when you feel ready. If you’re unsure, chat to your maternal and child health nurse first.

Are there any safety considerations I should be aware of?

  1. If you’re using a pram, ensure that it meets the mandatory Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088. You must secure your baby in the pram with a 5-point harness. Use the brakes when you stop, and prevent the pram tipping by putting bags in the basket underneath rather than on the handles.
  2. If you’re driving somewhere, babies under 6 months must by law be restrained in an approved rear-facing carseat or capsule. Read our tips for choosing the best newborn car seat.
  3. Try to keep your baby in the shade at all times. Read our pram safety for summer post.
  4. Protect your baby from people who are sick because newborns’ immune systems are not fully developed. Even with immunisations, your baby won’t be immune to whooping cough, in particular, for at least the first few months of life and sometimes longer.

Try to remember that with each outing it will get easier and you’ll learn something new about life with a baby – before you know it you’ll be an expert. Things won’t always go smoothly, but as long as you keep your sense of humour intact, you and your baby will be fine.

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