Baby Outings Made Easy

How to get back out into the world—plus one

The aches and pains of delivery are starting to fade. You've got this nursing/feeding thing down. And the four walls of your home are starting to feel close—way close. What does this all mean? You're ready to re-enter civilization, this time with a baby in tow! Just follow this step-by-step guide and you'll be prepared no matter where you go:

  1. Pack the diaper bag. No need to stuff in the entire layette. Bring a few diapers, a travel pack of wipes (or just pull some and stick them in a zip-top bag), diaper cream, two changes of clothes for the baby, a shirt for you, a burp cloth, a pacifier, and any feeding supplies you need.
  2. Feed and change the baby right before you leave. He'll be calm, satisfied, and who knows, he might even fall asleep.
  3. Strap him into his infant carrier or car seat. The seat should be secured tightly and angled at 45 degrees; many seats have a gauge on the side to help you, but if the baby's head flops forward, you're not there yet. The straps should lie flat. If you're not sure you've got your seat installed correctly—and even if you are—it's worth getting it professionally checked. This service is offered by many police stations, fire departments, and car dealers. To find a location near you, visit SeatCheck.org or call 1-866-SEAT-CHECK.
  4. Make sure your stroller or infant carrier is in the trunk! Indeed, this seems like obvious advice, but ask any mom if she's ever ended up lugging the baby around in her arms or in the seat because she forgot them. If she says no, she's lying.
  5. Plan to keep it short and sweet. Young babies tend to operate on two-hour cycles for eating, playing, and sleeping. You'll want to be home in time to start the next one to avoid an overtired, overstimulated baby who has trouble calming down. So your best bet is to make one stop instead of three. As she gets older, the window will get longer. Promise.
  6. Expect to be derailed. You won't be the first mom who leaves a cart full of groceries in line to go nurse a wailing baby in the car. Or to get peed on when you're changing your baby boy's diaper in the mall bathroom. It's okay! These experiences are all part of earning your mom stripes—and when your little munchkin is 3 or 4, she won't be able to get enough of her baby war stories.

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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