Just as you thought life with a newborn couldn’t get any more difficult than those night feeds and nappy changes that you’ve just about mastered, your routine is about to throw you a curveball: that very first outing with your new bundle of joy. Of course, you always knew that this day was coming. You couldn’t stay snuggled up at home forever, although nothing is likely to prepare you for the sense of overwhelming dread that you may feel when you first leave home with your infant in tow – or rather, when you first even think about leaving the house. What if she’s ill? What if you forget something? What if he cries the entire time?
The truth is that surviving your first outing with your newborn and every subsequent trip needn’t be as difficult as you fear. In fact, you’ll soon find that you relish every moment that you and your new family spend away from home. But how do you get over that initial anxiety? The trick is to prepare for every eventuality. Here are just a handful of the tips that you shouldn’t leave home without taking heed of.
Pack for the occasion
It doesn’t matter where you’re going or how you intend on getting there; what’s important is that you prepare for the occasion prior to leaving home. Packing a bag with your baby’s essentials will help you feel unrushed ahead of the adventure before you. Whether you’re going shopping or on a trip to the zoo, aim to pack a change of clothes or two, sufficient nappies and wipes, a soother if your child uses one, any medication that your newborn may be taking and a selection of muslins or burp cloths for lunchtime. For one so small, your newborn requires an incredible number of accessories, so be sure to buy a diaper bag to pack it all in. Chevron diaper bags are a great option for chic yet practical parents, as items with the fashionable chevron pattern are both stylish and able to conceal small stains easily.
Newborns are often unpredictable when it comes to hunger, so you must be ready to settle down and feed your baby at the earliest possible opportunity. New places and scenarios can trigger a sense of unease in small babies, who will be likely to want food as a means of calming and quieting down. If you’re breastfeeding, then ensure that you’re dressed appropriately, wearing a loose blouse or maternity top for ease. You’ll also want to pack a feeding bib or muslin to provide a little privacy. If you’re bottle feeding, then take a sufficient number of sterilised bottles, measures of formula, a flask with some hot water and a bottle-warming bag to carry your baby’s current feed as well as a means of cooling the milk down if it’s too warm to begin with.
Navigating busy spaces
If you’ve ever tried to navigate a pushchair between supermarket aisles or through crowds of people, then you know how utterly exhausting the whole experience can be. Very few people seem to see you coming, and those who do are loath to move out of the way with any urgency. When you’re heading somewhere that’s likely to be busy or difficult to traverse with a bulky pushchair in tow, wear your baby in a harness or sling. Such accessories can be purchased relatively cheaply and will prove invaluable when your hands are free and able to tackle grocery shopping, an older sibling or multiple doors. If carrying your baby will be difficult, then ensure that you have a lightweight stroller for outings – you’ll thank yourself when you’re nipping in and out of the crowds.
Surviving time on the road
Long car journeys can be difficult for anyone to enjoy, but when you throw a newborn baby into the mix, you may have an even more challenging matter on your hands. It’s important to remember that your newborn baby will need very little in the way of mental stimulation at this stage. You might even find that he or she sleeps for much of your journey. If you’re going to be cooped up in a car for any length of time, then preparation is vital. Learn your route inside out and identify motorway service stations and built-up areas that may prove useful if you need to make a spontaneous stop. Do you know how long you’ll be on the road for? Have you checked for traffic alerts and road works? Journey time, emergency stops and likely obstacles should be mapped out in advance if at all possible. Finally, ensure that your baby has the correct rear-facing car seat and that you’ve packed everything needed to enjoy the journey ahead. There’s no reason why this adventure shouldn’t be fun.
Soothing a fussy baby
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of any outing with a newborn is the moment that you’ve been dreading: when he or she decides to bawl for no apparent reason. Dealing with a newborn’s meltdown while you’re away from home can be an isolating experience. However, it’s essential to remember that every parent has dealt with the same scenario at one time or another. Once you’ve ascertained that your baby isn’t cold, hot, hungry or damp, take a moment to calm down. It’s little use calming a fussy baby while you’re upset. Don’t be afraid to stop what you’re doing to soothe your baby or allow a friend or family member to try their luck. You should also prepare for such eventualities by packing a soother or soft toy that your baby can associate with comfort.
Above all, remember to breathe. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself during those first outings with your baby since life with a newborn is seldom predictable. Rather than focusing on the trauma of numerous nappy changes, ill-timed requests for food and screaming from both parties, look at the positives that you’re able to take from every situation. Yes, you may have been anxious about it, but you managed to leave the house and return unscathed. Surviving an outing with a newborn is as much about your attitude as it is the seamlessness with which the day runs. Try and enjoy every moment and each new experience; your newborn won’t stay very little for very long, after all.