One of the biggest questions that parents ask is when they can take their baby out in public. There are many answers to this, and what answer you get depends on the person you are talking to and the time of year.
What determines when I can take my baby out in public?
- How old is your baby? Ideally you want to wait until your baby is 6 weeks to 2 months old to take your baby out in public to crowded places. This can be hard, but the closer you get to the 2 month mark the better.
- Your life. Having a baby doesn’t mean that your life stops. You may still have to run errands such as taking kids to school. In these situations, you can take your baby out, but try to leave her in the car seat and in the car if you can.
- Where are you going? New babies may have to go to the doctor sometimes and you just can’t avoid going out. For these instances, try to schedule the appointment as early as possible so your baby isn’t exposed to as many sick kids. You want to avoid crowds, such as malls, as much as possible, but if it is nice outside and not too hot or cold, there is no reason you can’t take your baby for a walk in the park. In fact, it will be good for both of you.
- What time of year is it? Your baby is more likely to get sick if it is the middle of winter versus the middle of the summer. You should avoid taking your newborn out in public in the winter if you can.
- In the end it’s up to you. As with everything else you do with your baby, the choice is up to you. The goal is to keep your baby healthy and from getting sick because babies have low immunity. If they develop a fever and are under 2 months old they will get a full septic workup, including a straight cath urine, x-rays, blood work, and a spinal tap to determine the source of the infection.
What can I do to protect my baby in public?
There are times in life where you just can’t help but take your baby out in public before she is old enough. The good thing is there are a lot of things you can do to keep your baby safe and hopefully infection free.
- Only go out if absolutely necessary. This seems like a no brainer, but if you can avoid taking your baby out, don’t take her out. If you want to get out of the house, that is fine, I understand, but leave the baby with someone at home if you can. This is especially true if your baby was born in the winter when there are more chances for your baby to get sick.
- Breastfeed. Breastfeeding is proven to help increase a baby’s immunity. If you can breastfeed this is one of the best ways to protect your baby. If your baby does end up sick, your breastmilk can even adjust to help your baby fight off the illness.
- Keep your baby in her carseat as much as possible. Keeping your baby in the carseat will help keep germs from getting to her. It will also help keep her from being exposed to germs that are on different surfaces such as a shopping cart or a chair in the doctor’s office.
- Keep your baby covered with a blanket. If you leave your baby in her infant carrier you can throw a blanket over the handle and your baby. This will hide her from others and encourage them to not touch her, because for some reason, people think they can touch your baby.
- Avoid crowded areas. It is best to avoid crowded areas, such as malls, for 6-8 weeks, especially in the winter. For example, you don’t want to take your 2 week old baby Christmas shopping with you when the mall is busy. It would be perfectly fine to take a walk in the park as long as it’s not the middle of winter though.
- Dress your baby appropriately. As a rule of thumb, you should dress your baby in the same number of layers you are wearing. If it is hot out, you don’t want to put long sleeves and a jacket on your baby. The same thing goes for the winter, if you are taking your baby out in public, you should dress her as warm as you dress yourself.
- Have enough supplies. Make sure you have everything you will need while you are out. You don’t want to have to make an emergency stop at the store for supplies when you are out for a walk, risking going into a crowded place with your newborn.
- Wash your hands. Even if no one touches your baby, you could still have germs on you from touching door handles, keypads, money, and anything else you may have touched. Make sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer while you are out.
There is no reason you have to stay cooped up in your house for the first 2 months after your baby is born, you just want to avoid crowded places where your newborn is more likely to catch an illness. If you have to go out, following the tips outlined will help keep your baby safe while out in public, but still may not completely prevent an infection or cold. If your baby develops a fever (over 100.5 axillary in infants under 3 months), you need to call her doctor.
When did you take your baby out in public for the first time? What other tips do you have for parents taking their baby out in public for the first time?