Going outside into the fresh air and having a change of scene is good for both you and your baby. With a little planning, you can enjoy getting out of the house with your newborn as soon as you like.
When is it safe to leave the house with a new baby?
There is no rush to go on an outing. In some cultures, women stay in the house with their new baby for a month or more.
But it is also fine to take your baby outside as soon as you feel ready. It is a good idea to go out when your baby is calm and happy. After a feed and a nappy change is a good time.
If your baby was premature or has a health condition, speak to your doctor before you go outside with them.
How to dress your baby
It is important to keep your baby at the right temperature. You can check whether your baby is too warm or cold by feeling their forehead. Babies’ hands and feet often feel cold when you touch them, so don’t judge their temperature by feeling their extremities.
It is a good idea to dress your baby in layers that you can take off and put back on. Dress them in one more layer than you need yourself. If it’s cold weather, keep your baby warm with a blanket and hat. When you come inside into the warm, take off a layer or two.
If it’s hot weather, you need to take special care to keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun. Babies cannot cool themselves as well as adults and are more at risk of overheating. Dress your baby in minimal clothing on a hot day but make sure their arms and legs are covered to prevent sunburn. A hat is essential to protect your baby’s head properly.
What to take
Consider going on a short trip to start off with. But even if you are only going out for a short while, it is a good idea to be prepared in case your baby is hungry or needs a nappy change. Pack a bag with the following:
- nappies (6 to 10, depending on the length of your outing)
- wipes (you can put these in a convenient travel case)
- change pad
- 2 to 3 changes of clothes
- accessories depending on the weather (hat, blankets, sun shade)
- 2 blankets
- nappy bag
- plastic bag for soiled clothes or nappies
- hand sanitiser
- formula and bottles if you are bottle feeding
How to transport your baby
Pushing your baby in a pram or stroller is a good way for you to get out and about. Make sure the pram meets the mandatory Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088. Always secure your baby in the pram with a 5-point harness and make sure you always put on the brakes when you stop. Prevent the pram from tipping by putting bags in the harness underneath, not over the handles.
A baby carrier or sling means you can keep your hands free while you’re out. Make sure you adjust it so it is comfortable for you. Wear comfortable shoes and be careful of tripping when you bend over or walk on uneven surfaces. A baby carrier or sling is not a good idea in hot weather because your baby can overheat.
If you are driving somewhere, babies under 6 months must by law be restrained in an approved rear-facing car seat or capsule. All car seats in Australia must comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754.
Keeping your baby safe
One of the greatest dangers to newborn babies outside in Australia is the sun. Try to keep them in the shade at all times. Cover the pram with a cloth and make sure air can still get through. Alternatively, you could use the pram’s canopy top or an umbrella to create shade. Minimise use of sunscreen in babies younger than 6 months. If your baby has to be in the sun, apply sunscreen to those small areas of skin not covered by wraps, clothing and a hat.
You should also try to protect your baby from people who are sick, because babies’ immune systems are not fully developed. Immunisation will help protect them. However, whooping cough is very dangerous for newborn babies because they are usually not immune for at least the first few months of life and sometimes longer. Take your baby to the doctor if you suspect they have come into contact with someone who has whooping cough.
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Last reviewed: August 2020