How Soon Can I Take My Baby Out In Public?
After 40 weeks of being pregnant, the last thing you want to hear is that you're on "house arrest" for the next two months. The good news is that this isn't necessarily true.
Doctors' recommendations may vary based on the medical needs of your child, but the fact is, there is no one magic number of days to wait for everyone. It could be anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months.
It's no wonder that parents want to take precautions...
Babies have weak immune systems and are more susceptible to various illnesses as well as the negative affects of direct sunlight. The consequences are much worse and scarier too. Yikes.
That being said, many doctors agree that fresh air is both beneficial to the baby and to new moms. I know personally, I go stir-crazy cooped up in the house all day.
What does going "out" mean to you? Out to church? Out on the porch? Different locations come with different rules. The following tips include precautions on what to do and what not to do while taking your baby out of the house during the first few months postpartum.
1. Avoid Crowded Places.
Abstain from high-populated, busy areas. More people = more germs.
Walking around the neighborhood or park would be a perfectly fine choice (granted there's not a hurricane outside). I suggest avoid taking your baby anywhere where there is a lot of people or where the air ventilation is poor. For example, don't go to the mall or congested restaurants. It's best to wait until your baby gets his or her vaccinations for this kind of outing.
2. Dress Your Baby Accordingly.
Dress your baby how you would dress yourself given the circumstances, and then add one extra layer! That is the rule of thumb, and always bring an extra blanket to be safe.
Other factors of dressing your baby vary upon the different seasons:
Winter - Bundle that baby head to toe! I definitely don't recommend any outing that is solely outdoors in the freezing temperatures, but still make sure your baby is warm when transporting—during those few minutes he or she is exposed to the winter air.
Spring - Spring weather can be unpredictable. One day it's 75° and sunny, the next it's 50° and raining. Make sure you check the weather before planning any trips. If you're going to be outside, pack for different scenarios and I wouldn't stray too far from home in case of random torrential downpour.
Summer - You want to avoid direct sunlight while outside during the summer. Babies cannot wear sunscreen until 6 months old, so make sure your baby is in a shaded area. I suggest a hat as well. Becoming overheated is another concern to consider. Don't spend prolonged periods of time in the hot weather, and if the thermostat goes over 85°, head inside.
Don't forget about pesky mosquitos! If you're taking your baby for a walk in the stroller, a mesh net is a great tool to keep bugs from puncturing your baby's precious skin.
Fall - Who doesn't love taking a walk this time of year when the leaves are falling and the air is crisp? To make sure your baby shares the same affection for this popular season, make sure he or she is bundled up. Although the sun is out, it gets chilly outside. Don't forget about dressing a baby's head, hands, and feet when choosing attire!
3. Take Additional Weather Precautions.
You're a mama bear now, it's time to always be prepared. As mentioned before, check the forecast ahead of time; however, be mindful that meteorologists can be wrong! Bring an umbrella with you at all times just in case.
In the United States, prime flu season occurs during the winter months (but can last until March). Check for the latest reports for the year in your area to be cautious. This may affect your decision in leaving the house after all, and there's nothing wrong with that.
4. Tell Strangers "No."
If you do go out somewhere where there are people, do not let others touch your baby. It sounds harsh, but its the surest way to avoid illness.
Sadly, it's not just hand-to-hand contact that can impact your baby's health. It's saliva as well. If strangers are talking around your baby, their germs can fall right onto your baby's lap. This is more reason why you should avoid busy places, but another solution is make sure your baby is covered. Use a stroller cover and don't be shy in denying people when they want to see your baby.
5. Bathe Baby When You Get Home.
After your outing, give your baby a bath. Now if you just went for a walk around the block and didn't run into anyone, you could get away with just washing your baby's hands.
If you were anywhere else where there were people around, it's better to be safe than sorry. Depending on if your baby has lost his or her umbilical cord stump yet will determine whether your baby will receive a sponge bath or regular bath. Either way: clean, clean, clean to stay germ-free!
It's totally normal to want to get out of the house after having your baby, so no feeling guilty here! Mamas need a break (and vitamin D), and babies will learn to love the new smells, sounds, and views of different environments.
To get the most bang for your buck, I suggest making sure your baby has been fed and changed before leaving the house to ensure a more enjoyable trip for all (but always stock your diaper bag anyway).
Follow your parenting instincts and listen to your doctor... you will do great!
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed physician and this advice is based off of my experiences and the experiences of others. Talk to your child's pediatrician about when is the best time to take your baby out for the first time.
- Samantha Colandrea