Ah, the first days with a newborn…perhaps at first a season of euphoria like never before or perhaps you jump right to the part we all feel: PANIC. Can you even have a brand new baby outside? Is it safe? Does the hospital not provide hermetically-sealed bubbles to transport your newborn in?!
Luckily, despite what you may have heard or been told, there is no reason to panic or adopt a hermit lifestyle for the first 6-8 weeks after your baby is earthside. There are certainly precautions to take, but if you’re wondering, ‘When can I take my newborn outside for a walk?’, the answer is way sooner than you may have thought.
Get that fresh air and vitamin D from day one!
Experts agree: there is no reason (barring health conditions that make your babe’s immune system particularly vulnerable) to keep your newborn inside for a certain length of time after they’re born. In fact, you can take them outside right away—like, starting the day you bring them home. If you feel up to it, getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine can be great for you both. A quiet stroll around the neighborhood or even a relaxing sit in the backyard may be just the mood-boost you need. But remember, your baby is VERY new to this world, so definitely make sure you’re taking precautions and getting outside safely.
Be mindful of the weather and dress your babe appropriately.
Newborn babies can be particularly susceptible to hypothermia or overheating in extreme weather conditions, so a good rule of thumb is to avoid going outside when it’s under 20ºF or over 90ºF. Avoid going outside in the hottest part of the day during the summer, and aim for the warmest part of the day in winter. When taking your newborn outside, dress for the weather, add one layer, and always have an extra layer handy in case you need it. Check to make sure they’re comfortable throughout the entire outing, and make adjustments to their clothing/bundle situation as needed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NOT using sunscreen on babies under 6 months old, so make sure your babe’s sun protection game is strong in the form of hats and clothing to cover their delicate skin. Avoid direct sunlight and hang in the shade as much as possible. When you’re walking with the stroller, use the sunshade. If you have the baby in a carrier, consider getting an attachable hood or cover to keep their head protected. And if your babe is chillin’ in a pack-n-play, a mosquito net over the top can keep them safe from those little suckers.
Avoid crowds and crowded places for the first few months, as much as possible.
Going outside for a quiet stroll or to hang in the backyard is one thing (and encouraged!). Taking your newborn out in large crowds, even outdoors, before they have their shots and while their immune systems are still developing? Well that’s a horse of a different color entirely. For the first 2-3 months of your baby’s life, experts recommend keeping them away from public spaces with large crowds, to prevent exposure to germs and keep them as safe as possible. This is especially important now, as we are still in a pandemic! So while you may be excited to take your new family to the local farmer’s market or art fair, best those outings are put on hold for a few months.
But we also know that’s not always possible! There may be times when you need to take your baby places where there will be lots of other people. In these cases, take extra precautions to protect your newborn. If they are in a stroller or car seat, use a cloth cover that fully covers your baby. Or wear them in a carrier with an attached hood or cover over their head and face. Try to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and the baby and other folks. And don’t be afraid to ask people not to try to touch your baby or get closer for a better look at the little one—it’s amazing this needs to be said, but some people lose all common sense around babies and someone will absolutely, 100% try to touch yours.
The first few months after having a baby are like a weird limbo—figuring out how to move through life with this new little person in the same but completely different ways as you did before they got here. Little steps are crucial, and getting outside as soon as you’re ready can feel like a huge little step. So don’t feel like you need to stay cooped up indoors – the fresh air and sunshine will do you all some good.