If you're the mother of a newborn and you find yourself obsessing about germs on shopping cart handles, congratulations: You're normal. Taking your tiny, fragile baby out of the safety of your home and into the big, bad world is daunting at first, but her first outing won't be as unmanageable as you fear. The key is to start small and plan ahead.
Your newborn is safe with you as her protector, but her immune system doesn't answer to you. Shield her from crowds on her first outing, both to protect her from close contact with others and to keep both of you from getting overwhelmed. Avoid crowded indoor places like shopping malls. And because you don't know how she'll react to her first public adventure, build an easy escape into your plans. For example, walk loops around a short track rather than taking a long walk away from home. If she's fussy, you can abort the trip and try again another day.
Timing Is Everything
If your baby was born prematurely or she has a condition that suppresses her immune system, consult your pediatrician before an outing, suggests KidsHealth. Otherwise, she is ready to take an outing as soon as you feel up to it. Plan a trip lasting no more than two hours, and schedule it for first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon to protect her from strong sunlight. Head out just after your baby wakes up from a nap and has been fed.
When choosing her first going-out outfit, comfort is more important than cuteness. Unless the temperature is over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, says HealthyChildren, layer her clothing. Dress her in one more layer of clothing than you need, it suggests. And because you might have to do a diaper change on the go, pick bottoms that snap all the way up the legs and that may be quickly removed. In cold weather, tuck a cozy blanket over her once she's buckled into her car seat. Bulky outerwear shouldn't be worn under her harness.
Pack It Up
Now's the time to get in the habit of packing for all possibilities. For a two-hour trip, take three or four diapers, along with wipes, a portable changing pad and a change of clothes. Take a thin blanket to cover yourself if you're nervous about breast-feeding in public, and a clean shirt or light cardigan you can use to cover up if your baby has her first public spit-up all over you. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends a baby hat with a full brim — not just a baseball cap — to protect her face, ears and neck from sun.