'Operation Mama Sanity'
When can I take my newborn out?
When I came home from the hospital with my new bundle of joy last fall, the first two weeks were filled with the tasks of survival – learning to feed my son, making sure he was growing appropriately, entertaining family and friends who wanted to meet him, catching a snooze here and there, and establishing a routine. After those two weeks ended and I had barely left my house, my next plan of action was: Operation Mama Sanity! I needed to get out!
Everyday in my office I have parents who ask me when they can take their newborn babies out and about, and get into the swing of life with their new child. My answer is always the same: now! But … with a few rules.
From day one it is absolutely fine to get out into the fresh air and go for a walk in the park, or in your neighborhood, if the weather permits.Try not to go out on extremely hot or extremely cold days, and as a rule of thumb, dress your little one in as many layers as you are wearing. Make sure the baby is not exposed to direct sunlight. Most strollers these days come with a nice shade for this purpose, or you can use an umbrella.
If you’d like to go out where there are a lot of people, like a busy restaurant, grocery store, or mall, I always tell parents to try to keep their infant’s seat completely covered by a light blanket.This serves a few purposes. First, a baby’s immune system before age 6-8 weeks is still immature. If someone at the next table sneezes or coughs, its best to have this protective canopy over them so viruses and bacteria are less able to come in contact with her. Also, it keeps the baby hidden as a deterrent to well-intentioned patrons from touching your sweet little one. As nice as that is, it’s best if people don’t touch your baby during those careful first weeks.
If it’s holiday season and you and your new baby are expected at the family get-together, don’t fret. Just politely ask that everyone wash their hands before they hold her. If you’re too shy to ask them yourself – do what I tell my patients to do – blame me! Say, “My pediatrician says everyone has to wash their hands before holding her!” This way no one can get their feathers ruffled. Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer and offering it to everyone is also a great and easy way to get germy hands cleaned. If someone appears to be sick and you don’t want that person to hold your baby at all, don’t. It’s Ok. You can blame that on your pediatrician too.
Don’t be afraid to go out with your new baby – she and YOU need it! Getting fresh air, exercise and social interaction in those first few months is vital to parents, and happy parents make happy babies.
Hope my two cents help you muster the courage to venture out! And remember, many pediatricians have slightly differing opinions about these things, so it’s best to speak with yours if you have questions.
About the author:
Dr. Diane Arnaout joined the Cook Children's Willow Park practice in 2011. Dr. Arnaout was born and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She served as a leader on the medical education committees during her internship and residency in pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in the Texas Medical Center at Houston, Texas.