out in public

How Soon Can You Take A Newborn Out In Public?

Deciding when to take a baby out in public and around others for the first time is a pressing and sometimes worrisome topic for most new parents, and especially first-time parents. 

The concern is that infants do not have fully developed immune systems and, as a result, are unable to resist or fight off sickness.

According to most pediatric health experts, infants can be taken out in public or outside right away as long as parents follow some basic safety precautions. 

There’s no need to wait until six weeks or two months of age. Getting out, and in particular, getting outside in nature, is suitable for parents and babies. 

Sunlight and fresh air provide health benefits like Vitamin D exposure and mood and energy boosts. 

When Is it Safe to Leave the House With a New Baby?

There is no rush to go on an outing. In some cultures, women stay in the house with their new baby for a month or more.

But it is also OK to take your baby outside as soon as you feel ready. It is a good idea to go out when your baby is calm and happy. After a feed and a nappy change is a good time.

If your baby is premature or has a health condition, speak to your doctor before going outside with them.

To keep your new baby healthy and safe, it’s essential to be aware of the environment and the people you encounter when going out in public for the first few weeks and months to reduce exposure to illness. 

When taking baby out and about, follow these few simple tips:

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How to Dress Your Baby? 

It is essential to keep your baby at the right temperature. You can check whether your baby is too warm or cold by feeling their forehead. 

Babies’ hands and feet often feel cold when you touch them, so don’t judge their temperature by feeling their extremities.

It is a good idea to dress your baby in layers that you can take off and put back on. Dress them in one more layer than you need yourself. 

If it’s cold weather, keep your baby warm with a blanket and hat. When you come inside into the warm, take off a layer or two.

If it’s hot weather, you need to take special care to keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun. 

Babies cannot cool themselves as well as adults and are more at risk of overheating. 

Dress your baby in minimal clothing on a hot day but make sure their arms and legs are covered to prevent sunburn. A hat is essential to protect your baby’s head adequately.

What to Take? 

Consider going on a short trip to start with. But even if you are only going out for a short while, it is a good idea to be prepared if your baby is hungry or needs a nappy change. Pack a bag with the following:

  • nappies (6 to 10, depending on the length of your outing)
  • wipes (you can put these in a convenient travel case)
  • change pad
  • 2 to 3 changes of clothes
  • accessories depending on the weather (hat, blankets, sunshade)
  • Two blankets
  • nappy bag
  • plastic bag for soiled clothes or nappies
  • hand sanitiser
  • formula and bottles if you are bottle-feeding

How to Transport Your Baby? 

Pushing your baby in a pram or stroller is a good way for you to get out and about. Make sure the pram meets the mandatory Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088. 

Always secure your baby in the pram with a 5-point harness, and make sure you always put on the brakes when you stop. 

Prevent the pram from tipping by putting bags in the harness underneath, not over the handles.

A baby carrier or sling means you can keep your hands free while you’re out. Make sure you adjust it, so it is comfortable for you. 

Wear comfortable shoes and be careful of tripping when you bend over or walk on uneven surfaces. 

A baby carrier or sling is not a good idea in hot weather because your baby can overheat.

If you are driving somewhere, babies under six months must by law be restrained in an approved rear-facing car seat or capsule. 

All car seats in Australia must comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754.

Keeping Your Baby Safe

One of the greatest dangers to newborn babies outside in Australia is the sun. Try to keep them in the shade at all times. 

Cover the pram with a cloth and make sure air can still get through. Alternatively, you could use the pram’s canopy top or an umbrella to create shade. 

Minimise the use of sunscreen in babies younger than six months. If your baby has to be in the sun, apply sunscreen to those small areas of skin not covered by wraps, clothing and a hat.

You should also try to protect your baby from sick people because babies’ immune systems are not fully developed. 

Immunisation will help protect them. However, whooping cough is very dangerous for newborn babies because they are usually not immune for at least the first few months of life and sometimes longer. 

Take your baby to the doctor if you suspect they have contacted someone who has whooping cough.

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Limited Direct Sun Exposure

The sun provides essential vitamin D, which all of us and especially new babies, need. However, babies are also more susceptible to sunburn. 

Limit direct sun exposure to around 15 minutes, and then use a cover or sunscreen afterwards. Talk with your doctor about your child’s individual health to determine how much sun is safe. 

Keep Germy Hands and Faces Away

This is an obvious and essential tip to follow. You won’t always know who is sick, but in general, it’s a good idea to keep other children’s hands and faces away from your baby’s hands, face, and mouth. 

Also, it’s generally intelligent not to allow strangers to touch or hold your baby. With family members, you can still be selective. 

Hopefully, a family member will instinctively not ask to hold the baby if they know they are sick. 

Either way, you have the right to politely and firmly say no when anyone asks to hold a baby. Their health is at stake!

Be Selective About Location

Schools, doctors’ offices, hospitals, daycares, aeroplanes — these places are known to be Germ Central Station and should be avoided when possible. 

If it’s not possible, keep your baby close in your arms or carrier, or use a cover on your infant carrier or stroller. 

Also, be sure to wash your own hands frequently so as not to pass along anything you’ve picked up while touching surfaces or other people’s hands. 

Mind the Heat (and Cold)

Don’t over or underdress your baby for the temperature outside. 

Parents and grandparents have a tendency to believe that babies need to be bundled up, but depending on the weather, that may not be necessary and could cause the baby to overheat. 

Dress your baby in as many layers as you are wearing and bring a blanket just in case. 

When to Let People Visit Your Newborn? 

While there’s not a hard and fast rule about when to welcome visitors after a baby arrives, here are a few things to consider.

The quick answer: When you’re comfortable!

There isn’t a general, one-size-fits-all rule on when to welcome visitors after a baby arrives (let alone who gets first dibs on newborn snuggles!)

But here are some things to consider as you and your partner decide when family and friends can come to meet your little one.

Should People Come to the Hospital to Visit My New Baby?

New mamas have varying opinions on whether or not to invite loved ones to visit them at the hospital following the birth of their baby. 

Some prefer to rest, recover and wait until they return home to accept visitors, while others enjoy a visit with close family and friends at the hospital right after the baby arrives. 

Remember that bringing a life into the world is a lot of hard work, and you deserve time to rest and get into the groove of motherhood. Between feedings, diaper changes and nurses and doctors checking on you and baby, there’s a lot that happens during your stay. So if you’re not up for a visit, it’s ok to say no.

No matter your feelings on the topic, hospital protocol comes first. 

Make sure that you understand how many visitors or companions are allowed to join you during your stay, what the visitation hours are, and if there are any screening requirements (temperature checks, etc.) 

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When Should I Let Visitors Come to My House to Meet My Newborn?

Once you’re home, you’re in charge! And while it’s exciting to introduce your loved ones to your new baby, here are a few things to consider before you open your doors to visitors:

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Germs

This is the most apparent concern (for a good reason!)

Your baby and their developing immune system aren’t ready for germs yet. A newborn’s immune system isn’t considered to have adequate function until two months old! 

Feel free to be a mama bear; It’s up to you what you ask of your visitors. And if they can’t follow your rules, they don’t get the privilege of meeting your little one just yet. 

Consider asking your guests to make sure they:

Are Up-To-Date on Vaccines: 

Newborns don’t have fully developed immune systems, making them particularly vulnerable to infections. 

Because of this, anyone who is around babies (including parents and siblings) should be sure to receive the following routine vaccines at least two weeks before meeting the baby:

  • Flu vaccine during flu season
  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis) vaccine (called DTaP for children and Tdap for older children and adults)

Stay Away If They’re Sick: 

Visitors with symptoms of any illness (cough, cold, fever or flu symptoms) should keep their distance from your house until they’re fully recovered.

Wash Hands Frequently: 

It’s always a good idea to ask visitors to wash their hands upon arrival and before holding your newborn. Follow your instincts on when and how often to invite guests to wash up.

Let the Baby Have Some Space: 

Maybe you feel comfortable with certain visitors coming to see the baby but aren’t sure about letting everyone hold your little one just yet. And that’s fine, mama! 

Feel free to set limits. You can ask them to avoid proximity to the baby’s face, and it’s up to you whether or not you want visitors to hold the baby. Be sure that if you have a partner, they’re on the same page about the rules.

Bring/wear a Mask: 

During flu season or a pandemic, anyone holding a baby should wear a mask.

Your Recovery

Don’t put your rest and recovery aside for the sake of guests; you’ve been through the wringer! 

Make sure you’re feeling good physically and emotionally before welcoming visitors. The last thing a sleep-deprived new mom needs is to feel overwhelmed with people in her home.

And even if you’re excited for your loved ones to come to meet your baby, visits can still be tiring. Don’t hesitate to set limits. 

When you’re ready for guests to leave, a simple “I think baby and I need to go take a nap now; thank you for coming to visit us!” should be more than enough to wrap up a visit.

Take Care of Yourself

Resist the urge to count caffeine as a major food group or a substitute for sleep.

Instead, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water and get some fresh air. 

Sleep when the baby sleeps — and try to work out a nighttime schedule with your partner that allows both of you to rest and care for the baby. 

Good habits will help you maintain the energy you need to care for your newborn.

Establish Visiting Rules

Friends and loved ones might come out of the woodwork to admire your newborn. Let them know which days work best and how much time you have for a visit.

Insist that visitors wash their hands before holding the baby and ask anyone ill to stay home.

Let trusted visitors care for the baby while you get some much-needed rest.

Go With the Flow

Allow plenty of time each day for nursing sessions, naps and crying spells. 

When you need to head out, give yourself extra time to pack your supplies and make that inevitable last-minute diaper change.

Expect a Roller Coaster of Emotions

You might go from adoring your baby and marvelling at tiny fingers and toes to grieving your loss of independence and worrying about your ability to care for a newborn, all in the space of an hour.

Chances are, you and your partner are both tired and anxious as well.

To help you stay connected, talk about what’s bothering you — such as a strained budget or difficulty soothing the baby. A shared laugh might help lighten the mood.

Relax Your Standards

Leave dust bunnies where they lie for now—store clean clothes in the laundry basket — or stacks on the floor — until you need them. 

Clean the bathroom with a fresh diaper wipe. Serve cold cereal and peanut butter toast for dinner when you’re too tired to prepare a more traditional meal.

Get Out of the House

If you’re going stir-crazy with a fussy newborn, take the baby out for a walk. If you can, let someone you trust take over for a while.

Accept a Helping Hand

When friends and loved ones offer to help, take them up on it. Suggest holding the baby, folding the laundry or running a few errands — whatever would help you the most.

Nurture Other Relationships

Your newborn needs your love and attention, but you won’t let your baby down by spending time with others.

Suppose you have other children. Set aside one-on-one time with each of them. Schedule dates with your partner. Meet a friend for lunch or a movie.

Keep Your Perspective

The newborn days won’t last long. Step back and appreciate the moment, even amid the chaos.

Know When to Seek Additional Help

Parenting is a challenge, even on a good day. If you’re depressed or have trouble adjusting to life with a newborn, consult your healthcare provider or a mental health provider.

Learning to handle the new stress in your life can help you enjoy the riches parenting offers.

Conclusion

Caring for a newborn is a combination of common sense, gut instinct, and professional guidance. 

If your infant has special medical needs, your guidelines for bringing the baby out in public may be different, and it may be critical for your child’s health to avoid public places for a specific period. 

Do your research, use your head, and talk with your child’s doctor to make the best evidence-based decision. 

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