Taking a New Baby Out in Public
Parents of new infants can’t wait to ask me when the right time to take their newborn baby out into public places is. Well, let me go public on this one and provide some information on the topic.
Where can you take new baby?
To no surprise, it’s perfectly fine to take your baby out for some fresh air, especially if the weather is nice. Your new arrival can enjoy the outdoors such as a walk in the park or around the neighborhood.
That being said, it’s probably a good idea to avoid large crowded places with poor ventilation until your baby is at least 6 or 8 weeks old. Exposure to germs from lots of people in one space should be limited, given how new a baby’s immune system is.
What to bring when you take baby out
If you do decide to go out in public with your new baby in the first few weeks of their life, there are some things you should take with you.
- First, bring extra diapers and a change of clothing. Leaks and spills are going to happen!
- Dress your baby in one more layer than you need for your own attire in going out.
- Be prepared for your baby to get hungry. They might be hungry outside the schedule they seemed to be adopting at home, so be ready to breastfeed while outside the house. Have extra formula available should you not be breastfeeding, but hopefully you are.
Carrying your baby
So, what about taking your baby out in an infant carrier strapped to you? You need to have a carrier appropriate for your baby’s developmental and motor abilities. In those first few weeks of life or months of life, you probably don’t want to use a carrier.
A carrier often makes baby’s head drop forward to the chin because of their poor head control. This can pinch off their airway. Instead, their head needs to be up and above the fabric line with their face visible to you. Their nose or mouth should not be covered by any part of the carrier or your body or clothing.
What about a stroller?
A stroller is an alternative for taking your baby outside, but make sure the stroller you buy is acceptable for newborns. For example, use one with a good degree of recline so new babies don’t sit upright and potentially occlude their airway due to poor head control.
Jogging strollers do not work well since most are not designed to recline, although a few do. A stroller canopy is essential to protect your baby from the sun and other weather elements. A canopy allows your baby to sleep and not be touched by others with their potentially germ-covered hands.
Hopefully, tips like these will air out your concerns when it comes to taking your new infant out into the open air in their first few days of life.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.