So you nailed pregnancy and blitzed birth. You've even got a handle on how your baby operates at home. The next motherhood challenge? Getting out and about with your little person.
If the thought of taking your baby out on your own makes you a bit nervous, you're completely normal. Bringing your new baby home and getting used to feeding, interpreting cries and changing endless nappies is one thing, but going out for the first time with a baby can be another fairly momentous challenge. Not only are the logistics of getting you both out in the first place a bit headache-inducing, but going out in public with your baby can feel very intimidating. The big wide world can suddenly seem quite threatening when you first venture out in it with your baby.
But be assured this is all temporary. All you need is plenty of preparation and lots of practice. If your first time out of the house with a baby is approaching, here's everything you need to know to make it go smoothly, and pave the way for many more successful outings together.
1. Pack the nappy bag
In those early days, packing a bag for a newborn can be a bit daunting as you try to prepare for every possible scenario. Write yourself a checklist and stick it somewhere so you can pack strategically - and do it the night before so it's a task done and out of the way.
2. Allow LOTS of time to get ready
As a rule of thumb, you should probably allow for double the time it used to take you to get ready for a big night out. This caters for last-minute feeds, major nappy situations and last minute changes of clothes (due to aforementioned major nappy situations).
3. Keep expectations low
Try not to aim for a complex trip on your first outing, one where you'll have a car journey, traffic and parking logistics to contend with. Instead, keep that first trip super simple, which will minimise potential dramas and ensure you're close to home if it gets too much. A walk around the block or to the local supermarket is ideal.
4. If you haven't already, have a practice with your pram
It doesn't hurt to have a practice session around the house/yard with your pram so you can be prepared for any tricky buckle fastening or harness adjustments. The last thing you need is to be challenged by a complex folding mechanism on your pram when you're all set to go. Trust me, in those early, foggy days of motherhood, simple things can be very confusing.
5. Have a just-in-case plan
Babies can be unpredictable creatures, which can be disconcerting when you're caught off guard. So it makes sense to have a 'just-in-case plan' when you're out and about, for those urgent nappy changes and unexpected feeds. Is there a safe haven you can head to if you need the privacy?
And don't forget your own bathroom needs - you'll be surprised at the amount of public toilets that don't accommodate for a pram, so keep this in mind too.
6. Bring along a baby carrier
Ever wonder why you see so many mums pushing their empty prams while they carry their babies? At some point, your little one will probably decide that he'd rather be held than pushed, which is where the baby carrier can come in handy. It always pays to stick one of these under your pram so you can pop baby in and still have two hands free to push the pram. Again, I highly recommend practising with the carrier (and making sure your baby is at the minimum weight for it), as they can be quite fiddly at first.
7. Keep it short and sweet
In those early days, babies tend to get very hungry very quickly (and very noisily), so if you're not quite ready to feed in public, make sure you're headed for home well before the next feed is due, just to keep things simple. You'll find that as your confidence grows and feeds become more manageable, your outings together can become longer and much more flexible.
8. Enjoy the experience!
Above all else, enjoy your first outing together! Pushing your baby around in a pram is a wonderful rite of passage for new parents. It might be a bit nerve-wracking at first, but getting out and about with your bub is a great way to get fresh air, show your baby the world and get your errands done.
It can also be a sanity saver on those difficult days when you both need a change of scenery (and you need a coffee)!.
Karina is the founder of Mum Friday, a mobile support service for mums with new babies. You can follow her at facebook.com/MumFriday.