Most new moms worry about the day they have to leave the house with their baby. Its intimidating to think about leaving the security of your home, where you have all the supplies on hand, and no strangers to glare at you if your baby starts crying.
You can’t stay trapped inside forever! Getting you and your newborn out the house doesn’t have to be impossible or stressful. Here are 10 easy tips to help you enjoy outings with your little one:
1. Pack What You Need, But Only What You Need
While it is good to be prepared, it can be very stressful to get your baby and tons of supplies out the door. Especially if you are in a hurry! Then you have to tote everything around all day.
Who needs all that hassle? Not you!
Make it easier by always keeping a short list of absolute necessities on your fridge or cabinet to use as a reference. Here are the basics you need for an outing:
- A change of clothes (two if you will be gone more than two hours, or your baby spits up a lot)
- Spare diapers (at least one for each hour you will be gone)
- Travel sized pack of wipes
- Pacifier, toy or other favorite comfort item
- Blanket to use for warmth, sun-shield, changing pad or nursing cover
- Small towel or burp-cloth for spitting up or drool.
- Bottle if your baby is bottle-fed
- Snack (if baby is older)
- Pain reliever or tummy medication (if you will be gone a long time, or baby is teething/sick)
If you use formula, keep a bottle with dry formula already measured out. Simply stick a bottle of water in the bag before you head out, and you are out the door with no stress.
2. Pack The Night Before, Or Keep An Emergency Bag Packed
If you want to make diaper bag packing even easier, plan ahead. Pack your supplies the night before you will be going out. That gives you plenty of time to really think about whether you are over-stuffing the bag!
(Keeping your bag light will make you more comfortable throughout your outing.)
If you have a car, you can also keep an emergency bag in your trunk at all times. It should always have things like diapers, wipes, blankets, hand-sanitizer, and a few changes of clothing, as well as a clean bottle.
Just remember to change out the contents as your baby grows, so you don’t get caught out with a diaper that is way too small.
3. Match Travel Times To Nap Times
If your baby doesn’t like being in a car or stroller, it can help to plan your outing around baby’s naptime. With luck, they will sleep during the transportation time.
4. Feed Baby Before Leaving The House
Try to schedule your day so that you can feed your baby right before you leave the house. Otherwise, he or she will get hungry fast, and you may not be able to feed them right away. By the time you can arrange a feeding, baby may already be screaming mad and uncomfortable.
Whatever your plans are for the day, make sure that feedings and diaper changes take first priority. Even if your baby doesn’t fuss, he or she could be become dehydrated if they go too long between meals.
The world is a scary place to a little one! Being in a sling is more comforting, and helps baby feel safe from all the strange people and sounds she will encounter while out.
A sling is also an easier way to breastfeed in public, plus the warmth and motion of your body will rock baby to sleep.
6. Avoid Crowded Busy Areas
Even if your baby is low-fuss and enjoys going out with you, it is best to avoid large crowds or noisy areas.
First off, these places can quickly stress both you and your baby. Having your baby around too many people puts him or her at a high risk for catching an infection or virus.
People love babies, and you may find it impossible to sight-see or shop with strangers approaching you every few seconds to ooh and ahh over your baby. This can be exhausting after awhile, and you may find both of you are feeling cranky.
7. Have A Friend Or Relative Accompany You
During the first few weeks, outings will be so much easier if you can enlist the help of an another adult (or teen).
Having extra hands means someone to hold baby while you pay for purchases, or to sit with them if they are asleep and you don’t want to wake them for a quick dash into a shop or bank.
If you are eating out, having a helper means that you have a better chance of getting a bite or two to eat! At the very least, your arms wil get a rest.
8. Be Home On Time
A predictable routine is a key element of a stress-free home. By the time your baby is a few weeks old, he or she will already be soothed by your normal activities at home.
Therefore, you should try to get home in time to pick up your normal afternoon/evening routine. That way things like dinner, reading time, and bath time are still normal and “safe” feeling for your baby. This might not help your outing be nicer, but it might eliminate some stressful nighttimes after you get home. (and baby will learn that being out never lasts forever, which can reduce tantrums later on!)
9. Make Overnight Visits Easier With Efficient Planning
Ready to take baby to visit relatives overnight, or for a whole weekend? Or maybe you are going on a vacation?
Instead of overpacking, only pack extras of items you don’t want to have to purchase again. For example, pack fewer diapers, and more clothes. You should be able to get diapers, wipes, formula and medication easily wherever you go. Its harder to find a replacement pacifier, a favorite toy, or your baby’s favorite bottle.
As for gear, take what you have to have, such as a car seat if traveling by car. Then figure out what you will be doing and whether or not you will need other items like a stroller, crib, highchair, or swing.
If you have to pack less, consider using a baby sling rather the stroller, and opting for the portable crib over other items. A safe place for baby to sleep is more important than items to hold and entertain him during the daytime.
Before starting a long trip, make sure baby is well-fed, dry, warm, and comfortable. Try to leave close to naptime, or arrange for naptime to be about the time your flight will be leaving.
Check venues ahead of departure to make sure you can plan activities when baby will either be sleeping or well rested and awake to enjoy stuff!
10. Keep Outings Short at First
In the early months, both you and your baby can tire easily. Keeping your outings short, and not too far from home means you can rest when you need it.
Not enjoying your outing means that you will dread the next time you have to go out – and your baby will feel your stress and possibly fuss the whole time.
For maximum enjoyment, just remember to go when you are rested, aim for baby’s naptime, go after a good meal (for both of you!), take what you need, get help when possible, and start out small. Pretty soon, you and your precious bundle will master the art of having a no-stress outing!