By: Mehvish Muneera Ismail
For many new mom’s the first outing with their little ones is a daunting task. Mom is exhausted with the round-the-clock feedings and the just-as-frequent-diaper-changes, and the baby has NO schedule. So how do you step out of the house without losing your sanity?
Here’s what I learned, and maybe it just might be helpful for you:
1. Have a game plan
Figure out what you need to do and then decide on how you will do it. Try not to be ambitious. Gone are the days when you can do all your weekly errands in one day-long trip. Be realistic and for the first few trips, try to aim for places closer to home.
2. Pick a time
Pick a time that’s best for the baby. This depends largely on the nature of your child. Mine used to be most patient after 2:00pm. By then, he had had multiple feeds and a bowel movement, and I would have had a meal and adequate caffeine. I could count on him sleeping for at least a part of the trip.
3. Have the right gear
Unless I absolutely need something, I will not spend money purchasing trinkets. But there are two baby essentials that I have never regretted spending on, and ones that I strongly recommend to all my friends. Have a stroller organizer. It can literally be attached to almost any stroller. That’s where I pop my water bottle, my cell phone and all the random stuff that I may use. Some of these organizers come with stroller clips – crucial for mother’s dependent on public transport or who walk to most places – like I would. Second, have a “Travel Portable Bassinet 3-in-1- Diaper Bag, Travel Crib and Portable Changing Station”. I discovered this product when my child was 3 months old, and once I used it, I never understood how I had lived without it thus far. I used the Lullababy brand, and the quality of their bag is by far, one of the best I have seen. It comes with buckles, which I link on the stroller and it almost immediately become the only bag I now use. I am no longer worried about changing my child on public changing tables, because of this one bag that single-handedly unzips into a changing station. Very easy to use, it’s also an excellent diaper bag with ample pockets – including an insulated one – making this a one-stop absolute essential for me. Other than these two, in my view every other gear is either an option or a preference.
4. Have a comfort toy
As a baby arrives, countless ‘first’ toys make their way to you – soft books, stuffed toys, etc. Every child is different and may form an attachment to a particular toy. For my little one, it was the Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Activity Toy. He loved it! I think it was because of the many thin loops and the mild rattle. I love it because it was not soft (so no suffocation hazard), easy to clean (a wipe down always suffices), and no loose parts. Even with tiny fingers, he could easily grasp a loop in his fist, and it gave him comfort in constantly having something to hold on to. He later used it as a teether and now at 9 months of age, he still uses it – but more like a ball he can toss around. Probably our longest used item to date re: toys, and an unexpected boon for comforting our little one in the initial days. Other friends also found crinkle blankets a good first.
5. Feed the baby
Feed the baby just before leaving. Give the child a 5 minute break for burps and spit-ups before you change him. Its particularly important to let a baby burp – or induce one – if your baby is colic. The last thing you want is have the baby in the car seat – gassy or uncomfortable.
6. You first, baby later
Get yourself dressed first, and have your stuff set out. Then the diaper bag. Always carry an extra set of clothes for the baby – I had one that always stayed in my diaper bag. A standard white onsie and a pair of pants. That way, I didn’t have to start packing from scratch each time, unless we had used the outfit at a previous outing. My rule of thumb was to have one spare pair of tights and a top for me (that I have never needed), a spare outfit for the baby, enough formula for a day out (breastmilk if you have pumped, in an insulated bag with an ice pack – to be put in last minute), backup bottles, two washcloths, socks, cap, diapers, wipes and a changing pad. When you are all set, then change the baby last. That way he has a fresh diaper and hasn’t ruined his clothes.
You only need to think about your baby and yourself – and not what others will think of a scruffy you, or a messy baby or a crying baby, etc. Getting worked up will not prevent anything from happening, and being out and about will help you feel more in control. Relax, enjoy and remember, this is the first of many trips and things always get better with practice.
Be sure to capture moments from your first trip out! There is no such thing as too many pictures. Years from today, even the weird expressions and disheveled clothes will evoke a precious memory. I have trouble recalling occasions and events, so every week, I sit for 20 minutes and use one of the many free iphone/android photo applications and make a note on the picture itself as to what the date and place was.