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Heading Out With Baby

Technically speaking there aren’t many items that we consider a must-have before taking your baby out of the house, especially if you’re not planning on strolling far from home. There are, however, definitely some useful items we’ve found best to have on hand, and others that we feel have earned their characterization as modern-day conveniences. Here are a few thoughts and suggestions for when you’re ready to get on the go again.

  • Diapering supplies. It’s Murphy’s Law of Newborns that if you don’t have a diaper within arm’s reach at all times, babies are all but guaranteed to poop the first chance they get.
  • Accommodating change (of clothing). Expect to need at least one complete change of clothing—definitely for your newborn, but quite possibly for yourself as well. Blowouts, leaks, and spills are far less stressful if you’ve planned ahead.
  • Food for thought. Newborns don’t care how recently they’ve been fed before setting out on an adventure. The minute you and your newborn step out the door, any semblance of a feeding schedule you may have achieved within the confines of your home has the distinct possibility of flying right out the window. In short, you’ll never regret being prepared to feed your baby on the go.
  • Baby carriers. Right off the bat let us tell you that we love baby carriers. They offer new parents a comfy, cozy, baby-friendly, hands-free option when on the move. Remember, though, that your baby should not routinely sleep in the carrier. If she falls asleep while being carried, check frequently to ensure that her head and neck are straight and her face is uncovered. If possible, it is best to put your baby in a safe crib or bassinet for naps.
    • Weight limits. Some baby carriers aren’t designed for use by small infants. If you plan on using one early on, double-check the lower weight limit first.
    • Support. As we’ve mentioned, babies are born with poor head control and neck support. Be sure to choose an appropriate carrier for your baby’s development and motor abilities. Avoid using a carrier that curls your baby’s body into a “C” shape or where your baby’s head drops forward to a chin-to-chest position; this position can pinch off your baby’s windpipe. Make sure your baby’s head is up and above the fabric, her face is visible, and her nose and mouth are not covered by any part of the carrier or by your body or clothing.
    • Comfort level. Not all baby carriers are created equal when it comes to comfort. You’ll want to consider ease of use—how comfortable you are strapping it on and putting your baby in it—as well as how comfortable you find the carrier to be. Remember to factor in how much you plan on using the carrier, because some are perfectly comfortable at first but quickly become less so when put to the test by heavyweights.
    • Price points. Factor in cost to determine if you’re getting what you pay for. This really is a personal preference. Some parents consider the more expensive, Cadillac-equivalent baby carriers to be well worth the price they must pay for them—especially if they are easier to use and as a result, end up being put to more use. Others find that the more economical models serve their purposes just as well.
  • Strollers. From the basic umbrella stroller to a top-of-the-line double jogging stroller, parents these days have nearly unlimited options to meet their needs—whether it’s transporting your baby through a shopping center, going on a daily jog, or strolling a colicky baby down the hallways of your own home (a “remedy” that, in some parents’ minds, even justifies the purchase of an extra stroller specifically for use indoors!). You may ultimately find that having a few different strollers is worthwhile—a lightweight umbrella stroller for quick trips or to use when traveling, a sturdier stroller for outdoor errands, and a jog stroller if you’re the athletic type (or want to look or feel the part)—but for the time being, you’ll want to narrow your scope a bit and look for strollers that are appropriate for newborns.
    • Rate of recline. In general, newborns need strollers that offer a fair degree of recline because their development does not yet allow them to sit upright and hold their heads high. Some stroller seat backs even recline completely to aid with napping—a feature whose usefulness extends well beyond the first few weeks and months. Most jogging strollers, on the other hand, aren’t recommended for use during the first 5 or 6 months because they aren’t designed to recline (although some have secure enough harnesses and positioning for younger babies).
    • Canopies and covers. Whether it’s windy, rainy, or sunny out, some type of stroller canopy is guaranteed to prove useful in protecting your baby from the elements. Some cover more than others, so consider the weather variations in your area. These may also help your baby sleep while in the stroller, and keep well-intentioned but nevertheless germ-covered hands from reaching in and touching your baby.
    • Travel systems. A car seat and stroller may come as a matching set, or a special attachment can allow car seats of various makes to hook on securely to a stroller. Each of these options allows for easy transfer of your baby from car to stroller and back without requiring you to remove her from her seat. If you don’t plan on keeping your baby in her car seat while strolling, this option is unnecessary. If you do plan on taking advantage of the convenience of (potentially) uninterrupted slumber in the car seat, just be aware that there is growing concern among experts that allowing infants to spend extended amounts of time in their car seats (and seats in general) may not be good for infants for a variety of reasons. What counts as “extended amounts of time”? Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer for you (because there isn’t one yet), but we suggest that in addition to never leaving your infant unattended in a child safety seat, you don’t get into the habit of relying on it as a prolonged sleep site.
Last Updated
Adapted from Heading Home With Your Newborn, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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