The first outing was to the doctor’s office, a matter of days after the baby was born. The next one has to have been the grocery store, since diapers and other crucial supplies were always in demand. And the other very early outing must have been a short walk through the neighborhood and around the park.
I remember clearly that unique feeling of excitement and sort of pressure when we were packing up our little one in her infant car seat / carrier to head out in those first weeks that she was part of our family.
Although it wasn’t always easy or approachable, as I brainstorm this article and begin to write it, I have a longing in my heart for the experiences and feelings of those days — my very first as a momma.
Now I’ve done it twice, since having a second baby. Although sure, I would say it was more approachable the second time around, there was still stuff to learn.
The weeks and months have zoomed by, and I still remember the earliest days clearly, and still use many of my early strategies for being out with newborns in my adventures as a mom to two toddlers, actually.
I’d say don’t worry, it’s gonna be great. Here are 14 things to know about taking the newborn out for the first time (and 6 oopsies we all make).
No, seriously, everything. I always left an extra knit hat in the diaper bag, and then also made sure to include clothing for the baby, from head to toe.
I’d say you’ll also want to pack way more diapers than you think you’ll ever need, with plenty in the diaper bag, and potentially even a pack stashed in the car just in case.
“I packed everything but socks for my firstborn son. He peed on his feet — just his feet!” remarked mother of two Renee Baumbarger, according to Parenting.com.
I’d say it’s safe to assume that you will very likely need to change out something the baby is wearing or wrapped in even during one short outing, whether due to diaper leaks, spit-ups, milk sprays, or more.
It's happened to me, most certainly, as it has undoubtedly happened to countless other mamas.
We were in line and about ready to pay at the store, and my husband (very discreetly, sweet and thoughtful dude that he is) let me know that my tank top had been soaked through by leaking breastmilk.
In those very early weeks, especially, it was quite common for one side to leak while I was nursing from the other, or for one or both sides to leak sort of just because!
The oops? Forgetting to put in nursing pads, thus creating a wet-top situation.
As I touched on earlier, I always liked to have some extras along, as well, since the ones I was wearing may become saturated.
Usually, when you are leaving the house, it’s to do something, right? Maybe it's going to the doctor, going out to get something to eat, doing the grocery shopping, or getting some exercise or fresh air.
That’s why (following all safety and use instructions provided by manufacturers/instructions from your little one’s doctor, as always), using baby carriers right from that first outing can make all the difference.
With a baby comfortable and secure in a carrier, you can do, well, many things! Push the shopping cart, get your card out of your wallet for that doctor visit copay, you name it.
I liked having a variety, from fabric slings to harness-style carriers to the infant carrier/car seat (which could click into our stroller).
It may work reasonably well to always have the baby in your arms at home in the first days, but carriers are just so cool for when you’re out and about.
I remember that it can be really easy to think all about making sure the baby is safe and comfortable, and that you have everything along that you might possibly need for them, then forgetting to pack some crucial stuff for yourself.
The first category of said “stuff” I wanted to be sure to include here is the all-important pad. Well, pads (plural), actually.
First, there are the ones that a new mom will need for the postpartum flow of lochia. If it’s the first time she’s leaving the house with a newborn, I’m assuming it will be in the relatively early weeks of the baby’s life, when these are still needed and will still need to be changed.
And then there are nursing pads, placed in the bra to catch leaks.
Now, I can barely believe there was a time (many years of my life, actually) that I would leave the house without something along to eat, just in case.
As soon as I was pregnant, though, actually, I always had to have at least a granola bar, or maybe some nuts or trail mix stashed in my bag.
The sudden and intense hunger can come on STRONG, I found, when nursing/caring for a newborn, and things can also take longer than you originally planned on.
I don’t know about you, but I do NOT enjoy being starving while trying to nurse, change a diaper, drive safely and calmly, or do, well anything…
The way I see it, you have enough to take care of while minding that brand-new baby, so be prepared with all that you’ll need to be cared for yourself, too.
What else do new mothers need? Hydration. During nursing and just newborn care times in general, water became such a huge deal for me.
My sippy-top water bottles became some of my most prized and important possession.
Bonus points if they were super easy to open and drink from with just one hand (such as while nursing), and a gold star on top of that if they were insulated to keep the water inside nice and cool.
Being sure to bring some water along for yourself is a good way, I found, to stay comfortable, cool, and feeling good no matter what your journey with your newborn ends up including.
This actually reminds me, I have been meaning to stick an empty bag in the back of the car for the last few days… the one I had in there had to be used for transporting shoes after they’d stepped in something at the park.
But anyway, toddler times aside, I would not want to be caught without a plastic bag (or I’ve seen that they make reusable/washable moisture-resistant bags, too) in which to put things that get, well, various messes on them.
First of all, a trash can (or one you’d want to put a poopy diaper in) isn’t always nearby enough to be practical, so you might need somewhere to put that used nappy containing liquidy #2.
Then, also, where will you put the onesie (or other clothes), well, soiled by a diaper blowout, big spit-up, or milk spray?
To keep it all away from other stuff that you don’t want it touching in your bag or car, an extra bag is something you might wish you had along if you didn’t already pack one.
A primary concern with newborns will need to be, you guessed it, how to keep them out of the direct sunlight.
My pediatrician and every book or source I’ve ever checked out on the subject says no sunscreen until the little ones are 6 months of age.
Therefore, it’s all about being prepared to provide cover for them when you are out and about.
Maybe it’s a stroller canopy, a craftily draped blankie (placed safely, of course), or the shade of a tree.
I always, always had a little sunhat along, too, simply stashed in the diaper bag. Even in the shade, reflected light can reach the exposed skin. Long sleeves and of course using caution and common sense in general, I’ve found, are the way to go.
For that very, very first outing, it was really nice to have my husband along. Even with our second baby, he came to the doctor’s appointment with me.
A new mom will possibly also be recovering from childbirth somewhat still and may be running on very little sleep, too.
And just with the newness of it all, it can be really reassuring to have someone there with you to help out, or just to be there for you.
One person can grab the new diaper while the other removes the old one and keeps hands on the baby, for example. One can drive the car while the other gazes fondly at that cherubic little face… Awwww.
Yeah, I remember clearly how hard it was just time-wise to get out the door in the very early days. Even now, it’s like we always need at least an extra half hour beyond what I would have originally thought, and my two little ones are toddlers. (Different challenges for different ages… but that’s another article.)
I remember how easy it was to get trapped in a cycle of being almost out the door, then needing to change a diaper, then feed again… So I’d say give yourself plenty of spare time if at all possible.
Jacqueline Stone from Baltimore recalled taking her 4-day-old baby to that first doctor’s appointment. “He wanted to eat, and as soon as he ate, he pooped, then he wanted to eat again,” she said, according to Parenting.com. “It took two hours to get him into the car seat. My husband and I were like, ‘Are we ever going to leave the house again?’”
After about four years of momming it up pretty hard, I’m not sure I can really stress enough how important the diaper bag is.
After owning multiple ones and loving and not loving various things about them, I’d say look for one that’s easy to carry with one or no hands (as in a backpack), and that’s not too heavy, since you’ll also be carrying a newborn (and later a larger baby) and probably a tired one at that…
Have along all the things you normally would use at home within the amount of time you’ll be out, from clothes to diapers to… you name it.
I like to restock the thing right when I get home, or I’ll forget to and be caught without something I need, such as enough diapers or spare clothing. Basically, whatever I used while out needs to be replaced as soon as I’m back in the door.
Side note: I heart fabulous and fashionable bags as much as anyone, but a backpack you already have would probably work great, especially if it has bottle pockets.
I am all about fun outfits that make a person feel beautiful and stylish. Also, though, I have amassed, I’m realizing, quite a collection of little tips for dressing functionally and comfortably for the first and early outings with a newborn, so here we go:
Bring an extra top for yourself; it will likely, at some point, get soiled with spit-up or milk leaks or something…
Wear something you can bend, sit on the floor, and hunch over to change a diaper in… Short skirts and dresses, for example, were not ideal, I found.
Having a hairband or clips along is good, to keep your hair out of face once you get hot doing all that mom work, or while nursing, or when you have to lean over for a poop change…
Shoes that are easy to slip on and off are key. They make getting in and out of the house easier, and then it’s that much simpler to transfer a sleeping baby from car seat to crib, too (we don’t wear shoes inside with the babes on the scene).
For that very first outing with a newborn baby, I just think it might be important not to attempt too much.
It can all be so new, all be, just… a LOT.
It’s nice being at home with your nursing chair, your changing station, the food in your kitchen… and a sense of relative comfort and ease, I recall.
So for the first outing (and other early adventures), we always went for just one thing: the store, the doctor’s office, a short walk…
At the most, I’d say maybe we all did something, like the doctor’s visit, and then maybe I’d wait in the car with the baby (probably nursing) while the hubs ran into the store for this or that.
I wouldn’t necessarily have wanted to try to do multiple things that very first time, but rather thought it made more sense to take it easy.
You’ll get used to it all as you go, but why take on too much right away?
If only I had some clean surface to lay the baby on while changing him… Man, how am I going to block that bright sun coming right at us on the restaurant patio? … Shoot, that blanket that was keeping her warm just got spit-up all over it…
I wouldn’t have wanted to be caught without an extra little baby blanket/swaddling blanket along, most especially during that first and other early outings with a newborn.
Our pediatrician actually expected us to have on there in the office, to create a nice surface on which to lay the baby down during certain points in the exam.
Really, I think we just always had one placed over our newborn’s lap, at first, but then there’s also the uses I already mentioned, as well as the potential for providing extra warmth, acting as a nursing cover if you’re into that or it’s helpful to you, actually swaddling the newborn for snoozing while out and in your arms, and more.
Okay, so there had already been one blowout, or maybe it was that we had needed to use the extra newborn clothes from the diaper bag in a prior outing and forgotten to restock them once home again?
In any case, my little love had a huuuuge poo in the car, so that the resulting blowout, there in the hot parking lot, was quite extreme.
Now, luckily, I had some extra stuff along in a bigger size for our older little one and somehow made that work for the short outing, baggy though it was.
But getting caught without those extras is really just no fun, and might even make you need to bail on your mission and head right back home. (Bummer! / Not always feasible.)
And so, I’d say consider having backups for your backups — no joke — most especially for the first and very early outings with a newborn. They tend to go through clothes quickly, with those liquidy poo leaks and spit-ups and all…
Either when I was trying to actually get out of the house with a newborn (or, later, a newborn and also a toddler), there would be that moment when I was finally getting everyone into the car and then… I had to pee really bad myself.
Or, alternatively, we would be out somewhere and having just gotten back on the road to head home when I realized that I had to go really bad, having been the hydration-conscious breastfeeding mother that I was.
Like I tell my toddler, I of course always make a habit of going even if I think I might have to before leaving the house or when out and there’s a clean toilet nearby. (These days it works out because my toddler almost always has to visit the potty by then anyway, so might as well!)
Assuming that the first journey out into the world with a newborn will be within the early weeks of life, one might also assume that a mom is still sort of getting used to the whole breastfeeding thing (if that is the method through which she is feeding her baby).
At home, I had my Boppy support pillow at each nursing station, the footrest on my couch seat to help get propped up and comfy, and other conveniences, and I recall feeding while out and about being somewhat less simple as I first got the hang of it.
I found I actually preferred sitting on the ground cross-legged or leaning against a wall with my knees bent so that my thighs could help to support my arms/the baby.
Newborns won’t yet be distracted by noise and people around (as older babies might), so where you are, at least, shouldn’t need to be too limiting, unless you might prefer a more quiet corner.
Although clearly, I’m all about that planning, and that fully stocked diaper bag, to make first and early journeys out and about with a newborn easier, you just can’t plan for everything.
Sometimes, for example, I didn’t know that my little one would be really upset about being in the car right when we were trying to head home. Or I’d get starving when we were out longer than I had anticipated. Or I’d run out of water when super-hot and parched.
So I just wanted to mention that hey, at least (in many places) there is usually a store, restaurant, or other places to restock and refuel nearby.
Modern conveniences can become HUGE conveniences for parents, especially new moms.
I, for example, went ahead and splurged on an extra meal or two out to give myself some fuel and my babe a chance to be ready for a car ride again.
Diapers, snacks, sustenance, and more are often close by in our modern world, so at least there’s that!
I came to have a renewed appreciation for public parks as a mom, and not just once my little ones were old enough to actually play there.
Where there are parks, there are often bathrooms (for moms out and about). There is often some shade to be found, where you might sit and nurse or just rest for a second.
If your little one is very unhappy being in the car seat at the moment, or just had a diaper blowout, a park or green space of some sort can be the perfect place to do what you need to do and regroup (as opposed to, say a parking lot, which can be crowded and hot (and don’t even get me started on when people are vulturing after your parking space…).
I like to be aware of grassy areas and parks that aren’t bummy and have decent bathrooms.
I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge (in case writing this entire article didn’t say it clearly enough... haha!) that I think (I KNOW) that it can be a LOT to take your baby out of the house for the first time, or even for the many early times that you tackle it.
You’ll get the hang of it! Repetition and routine will come.
So, my point? Good for you for tackling it. And it’s normal to feel relieved to be home again.
Good for you for taking on this stage of parenthood, as you get used to being a parent out in the real world, being in society with the new title “Mom.”
I found that anyone who was not currently parenting a newborn didn’t really seem to understand at all how much it was to tackle to go out, even for pretty short trips and errands, so just know that I do! And other moms do. And you got this!
References: This one mom-of-two’s experiences, Parenting.com