Holding your baby for the first time is a wonderful experience, but it is also terrifying. That tiny body feels so fragile that it is easy to imagine all sorts of simple accidents leading to disaster – even when you know, rationally, that this is a situation people cope with all the time without any problems. Anxiety is natural, and when it comes to taking your baby outside your home for the first time, it will be intense. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare for this. They will make your trip safer, easier to manage at a practical level, and a lot less stressful for your baby and yourself. They will also help you get into good habits which, before long, will ease your nervousness about going out, and make it into something you love – a chance to help your baby discover the world.
Feeding your baby
When it comes to hunger, newborn babies are unpredictable. Even if you feed them right before you leave the house, they could be hungry again ten minutes later. This means that you need to be ready to stop and feed them wherever you are. If you are breastfeeding and you are concerned about privacy or live in a place where people are not very supportive, using a sling can be a good solution, supporting you baby’s head in the right position and covering up your breast while feeding takes place. Simply wearing a loose cardigan or shawl can also provide some privacy. You can also consider pumping some breast milk so that you can feed it to your baby from a bottle. Remember that feeding your baby is a natural thing to do and is your right, so do not let anybody tell you that you are doing it the wrong way or in the wrong place.
When you have a baby to deal with you will not find it as easy to snack on something as you walk along, and the cafés where you usually stop off for a bite may no longer be welcoming. You can prepare for this by doing some research before you go out and mapping out places where you know you will be accepted – even if your baby is making a fuss. It is also a good idea to prepare some snacks and identify places like park benches where you can simply sit for a while. Remember that if you are breastfeeding you may become hungry very quickly, and even dizzy, so it is a good idea to have something sweet with you.
Changing your baby
When you are only just getting used to changing diapers, having to do them in public can feel highly intimidating. Again, plan ahead and work out where there are suitable facilities you can use, or simply secluded spots – it is possible to change a baby outdoors in fine weather if the occasion calls for it. If the mess associated with changes makes you uncomfortable, you may find luxury reassuring, so consider buying a luxury diaper bag to make yourself feel more stylish and more like yourself again.
Transporting your baby
Some babies love traveling in any form of motorized transport and will doze off as soon as the vehicle starts moving. Others, however, hate traveling and need a lot of additional comfort. As well as a car seat, you should prepare with comforting travel accessories. Simple things are often best. A piece of clothing that smells of you will bring comfort when your child cannot see you properly, and many babies feel comforted by snug jackets that make them feel as if they are being hugged.
Dealing with stress
If you are anxious about going out, your baby will pick up on that and be more likely to cry, which can make things worse – so before you go out, take some time to prepare by getting yourselves into a good mood together. Be careful not to exhaust your baby, but spend time on a fun activity that strengthens the bond between you. That will make your baby more confident when faced with the stress of intense stimulation (bright light, noise, crowds etc.) and it will also mean that your body produces hormones that help to keep you calm.
Preparing like this will not guarantee that your trip is problem-free, but it will mean that when problems arise, you are able to handle them. This does not need to be a stressful event. It can be the first of many amazing adventures that you and your child enjoy together.