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.
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. My Baby Nursery is your one-stop baby product store.
You should take some precautions and implement certain restrictions to keep your baby healthy. Here are some guidelines for where to go and not go with your newborn, how to dress her appropriately, and how to protect her from the elements.
When Can I Take My Newborn Outside?
As mentioned, you can head out the door on day one with your newborn if she’s appropriately dressed, you avoid very extreme weather, and you stay out of direct sunlight. Babies and their new parents benefit from a change of scene (yup, it’s boring when you’re cooped up inside all day), so a short stroll on your block or a feeding session on a park bench is a nice respite.
When it comes to planning a meet-up with friends and family, they’re probably as excited to get to know your newborn as you are to show her off. But because of COVID-19, the best advice is to restrict visitors, both inside your home and out, until the pandemic is behind us. Blame your pediatrician or your motherly instincts, but get your message across.
As for the people who do live in your home, don’t allow your baby near anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or possible virus exposure. Be especially careful with young siblings, and teach them to gently pat the baby’s back or touch her tiny toes, but never her hands or face. And after any outing or family hug session, clean your baby’s hands with a wipe or wet, soapy cloth.
Is it Safe to Take My Newborn Outside During the Covid-19 Pandemic?
Yes, it’s OK to walk outside in the fresh air, but because the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, you must avoid crowds and maintain a safe, physical distance from your newborn. It’s also essential that every adult — outside of your immediate household — washes his or her hands well, wears a face covering or mask and avoids touching the mask, too.
Some places, such as doctors’ offices, offer parents the option of waiting in the car before an appointment or bringing newborns through a separate entrance and then staying in a space where they can be safely distanced from other families. If you can avoid it, skip the grocery store, restaurants and other indoor venues where ventilation may be poor, and it can be not easy to socially distance from others.
How Can I Keep My Newborn Safe in Crowds?
Keeping your newborn safe in crowds is best done by avoiding all crowds, period. If you must go to a place where there are many people, wear your baby in a sling, wrap, age-appropriate carrier or keep her in a stroller, so others don’t get too close. Stay physically distanced as much as possible, wash hands often and wear a mask (infants, however, should not don face coverings).
It pays to be extra careful for the first month — the younger your baby, the less time her immune system has had to strengthen. (This is especially important for infants born prematurely or with other health concerns.) In regular times, before COVID-19, pediatricians would generally allow an outing in a crowd after the baby received her vaccine round at two months of age.
Still, this advice can vary from doctor to doctor as infants remain susceptible to viral illnesses that are not preventable with vaccines. (This is why washing hands and staying away from sick people is so prudent). Not only do newborns have a more difficult time fighting off certain illnesses, such as respiratory infections, but they are at a higher risk for serious bacterial infections. That’s why any fever (or abnormally low temperature) has to be thoroughly investigated.
While it’s OK to go out in the yard or to a quiet park, you’ll want to try your best to avoid places where there are crowds for the first several weeks of your baby’s life.
The younger she is, the more juvenile her immune system, and the more susceptible she is to pick up germs from other people and nearby coughs, sneezes, and unclean hands. Once your baby reaches 2 to 3 months, her immune system will mature significantly, and you won’t need to be as concerned.
Babies are irresistible, which means strangers may want to touch and play with her—leaving you with less control over what she’s exposed to. So, keep that in mind before you head to the mall or the local swimming pool.
An excellent way to protect a baby from strangers’ germ-filled hands is to wear your baby in a sling. When family members or friends want to hold your baby, insist that they wash their hands first.
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 a 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.
How Should I Dress My Newborn Safely for Outings?
Dressing your baby safely for an outing means paying attention to the weather, of course, but don’t be tempted to place a mask or face covering over her mouth and nose as a way of protecting her from COVID-19. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that children under two should not wear face-covering due to suffocation risk.
Instead, keep her at a safe distance from others when you’re outside, and be sure that any adults you encounter are wearing masks themselves.
Dressing a Newborn for Cold Weather
When it’s cold out, your newborn will be most comfortable in layers of clothing, such as a long-sleeve undershirt, cozy pyjamas or a one-piece outfit and a warm jacket. Older babies should wear one more layer than an adult would in the same weather conditions. Warm booties (or boots if your baby is older), as well as a cozy hat and mittens, are also necessary.
Dressing a Newborn for Hot Weather
In hot weather, over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, your baby will only need a single layer of clothing or one more layer than you’d wear at the same temperature. Clothing with a tight weave or that made with UV-protective material is the best picks for bright, sunny days.
Babies under six months should not be in direct sunlight, so use your stroller’s canopy, an umbrella or stick to the shady side of the street. Always protect your baby’s sweet head with a hat that has a three-inch brim to cover her face, ears and neck, and apply a baby-safe, broad-spectrum sunscreen 30 to 50 SPF on all areas of exposed skin (for babies six months and up) and a minimal amount on small areas like the face (for babies under six months)
Before you head out and about, you might be tempted to bundle your baby up in extra layers, or if it’s summertime, to put her in a stroller in just her diaper. The general rule of thumb is to dress your baby for the weather—not too hot and not too cold—and add a layer.
Use your clothing as a guide. If you’re comfortable wearing a T-shirt, put your baby in a long-sleeved shirt, and if you’re wearing a sweatshirt, the baby may also need a light jacket. Always have a spare blanket on hand to use as an extra layer.
Unlike adults, babies are not able to regulate their body temperature as efficiently. So keep a careful eye on your baby to make sure she isn’t too hot or cold. Listen to your baby’s cues; if she is uncomfortable, she will cry to let you know.
If your baby is too hot, she may get flushed and a little sweaty on the hairline. Remove a layer or blanket. As long as the baby isn’t in the sun, it’s OK to wear just a diaper in the sweltering heat, but you don’t want to stay out in the heat for long.
Likewise, if your baby is cold, she will likely cry to let you know. If the temperature is cold, keep your baby bundled up tightly with hands and feet tucked in to stay warm. And always be sure your newborn wears a hat outdoors when it is cold, as humans lose body heat through their heads.
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.
Protect Your Baby from the Elements
Whether it is winter or summer, facing the elements without the proper protection is never a good idea. Here’s what you need to know for the different seasons of the year.
It’s perfectly safe to take the baby outside in the winter, provided she is bundled up correctly (as discussed above), the temperature isn’t too cold, and you keep the trip brief. Sometimes babies need a few gasps of fresh air and natural light, especially if they are colicky. Looking for blankets for baby cot? Look no further. My Baby Nursery has you covered.
Use caution in cold weather. Babies are at an increased risk of hypothermia due to their still-developing nervous system, a minimal amount of subcutaneous fat, and an inability to shiver to bring up their body temperature. If the weather is freezing outside, you may still take the baby out for quick trips out, provided the windchill factor is above 20°F. Do not stay off for longer than a few minutes.
Spring is a beautiful time of year to have a newborn. Winter’s cold has started to thaw, and the days are getting longer. This is an ideal time to enjoy a walk or trip to the playground with older kids.
Spring days can be deceptive, though. A bright and clear day can quickly give way to gusts of wintry air or a sudden rain shower. Always check the weather before taking the baby out in the spring, be prepared with an umbrella for the stroller, extra blankets, and a change of clothes if you get caught in an unexpected downpour.
In summer, you want to protect your baby from the sun, excessive heat, and mosquitoes. On hot summer days, try to avoid going on in the heat of the day, and instead try to time outdoor activities for the morning or late afternoon if the thermometer reaches 80°F, head inside.
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.
Babies under six months of age should never use sunscreen, so you’ll need to keep the baby in the shade and use a sun hat. When taking a walk or going to the park, use a stroller with shade and check to make sure the baby isn’t in direct sunlight at any time.
If your area has many mosquitoes, you may want to use a mesh net to cover the stroller or pack-n-play in the back yard, but be sure the mesh is away from your baby’s face.
Just like springtime, autumn can be a great time to have a baby. The temperature is moderate, with lots of sunny days and colourful leaves to enjoy. However, the weather can change quickly on fall days as well.
In early fall, chilly mornings can give way to summer-like afternoons, while in late autumn, bright sunny days can have a deceptive winter chill. Layering is essential in fall weather, so be sure to have extra blankets with you to keep your newborn warm outdoors.
When You Get Home
When you get home from an outing, be sure to wash your newborn’s hands, especially if anyone has touched her. It would also be a great idea to clean your own hands to avoid transferring anything from yourself to the baby. Some parents feel better bathing a baby after coming home from excursions, especially shopping trips to the grocery store or mall where the baby may have been exposed to germs.
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.
Some doctors prefer that parents wait until their baby is a few months old before going to crowded public places (like malls, movie theatres, and aeroplanes). But there are no set rules about how long to wait before taking a newborn out into the world or when to let people near the baby. My Baby Nursery has a wide range of baby car seats to help you choose.
If the weather is nice, you should feel free to take your baby outside whenever you feel up to it — you both would probably enjoy a stroll outside and some fresh air!
When you’re out and about, though, avoid exposing your newborn to anyone who is sick. A newborn’s immune system is still developing and may not be able to fight off infections. And ask anyone who holds, touches, or feeds your newborn to wash their hands first. It’s also essential to make sure your baby’s vaccines are up to date.