Planning on taking your baby out for the first time? Before you pack the baby bag and adjust the car seat, consider these points to make the experience as enjoyable as possible – for you and your baby.
Women with babies and small children are, sadly, soft targets for criminals because they’re usually distracted, frazzled, overwhelmed and overloaded with baby paraphernalia. When parking or returning to your car, stay focused and be aware of your surroundings. Trust your instincts – if your gut tells you that something is wrong, don’t ignore it. Park in a secure area and have your keys ready in your hand when you return to your car to avoid becoming distracted while scrambling in your bag for them. Be alert when putting parcels and your bag in the boot, and close it before securing your baby in the car seat.
I don’t recommend going to crowded places while your baby is a newborn (up to six weeks old). Tiny babies have an immature immune system and there are billions of viruses in the air that can cause infections. Premature babies are especially vulnerable.
Places such as shopping centres, stadiums and theatres are also often not baby-friendly and may not offer much in the way of changing and feeding facilities.
Dress comfortably and wear flat shoes. Keep outings short – if you’re planning on going on a shopping spree, it’s better to leave your baby with a caregiver, friend or family member. Do your errands over a few days rather than trying to get everything done in one day. Shops are also quieter in the mornings during the week.
Stick to the routine
By the time your baby is six weeks old, you will be in some sort of routine. Feed your baby before you go out and try to be home before the next feed. Make sure your baby is clean and comfortable before you leave home. If you’re not sure how long you will be out, make sure you have everything you could need – including something to eat and drink for yourself.
Start with small outings – a walk around your complex or the block with your baby in the stroller is a good start. For your first big outing, take a friend along – preferably a seasoned mom (or your own). Start with a trip that’s not far from home and keep it brief. If it helps, make a list of what to take with you and what you want to achieve.
Shop at familiar places where you know where everything is and where you feel comfortable. Do a pre-run in your head before you leave the house.
What to take
Choose a practical nappy bag with zip pockets for car keys, sunglasses, your purse and driver’s licence so you don’t need to take a handbag. Pack the nappy bag with what you will need for that particular outing, and repack it when you get home so it’s ready for the next adventure. Make sure you have a changing mat and baby wipes.
Breastfeeding on the go
Breastfed babies don’t only feed when they’re hungry – they nurse when they’re thirsty, feeling insecure, tired or just in need of comfort. It’s better to give a quick, reassuring feed than to struggle with a frantic baby who turns heads. Because clean, secure and comfortable breastfeeding facilities are scarce, I advise moms to make use of the change rooms in clothing stores.
Remember to wear breast pads (your breasts respond to your baby’s crying and nuzzling long before you do) and it may even be wise to take an extra blouse to spare yourself an embarrassing moment.
Breastfeeding in public is a contentious topic. If you have no choice, you may choose to cover yourself and your baby with a shawl or purpose-made feeding cover.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.