There are so many fears and worries that accompany having a baby.
For me, the only thing stuck in my head while I was pregnant was getting through the birthing process.
I was absolutely terrified each time I gave birth because with all three of my kids, nothing went according to plan on the day I went into labor with each of them.
Afterwards, everyday was a struggle with myself: was I doing things right? Was I being a good mama?
There are so many thoughts that run through your mind simultaneously. Thoughts that don’t ever truly go away because you always worry about something; parenting guilt is just that kind of a bitch.
You’d also expect things to get easier with the more kids you have because of the experience you pick up on along the way.
Sure, some things did get easier. Like not sleeping in the first few weeks because you have to take care of a newborn. Don’t get me wrong, it was easier because after Gremlin and Cay were born, I knew what lay ahead of me so I was able to prepare myself to operate on ‘sleep-deprived mama’ mode.
The more kids you have, the easier some things really do get, yet even though you’ve been through certain things before, you’ll still end up second guessing yourself as you go along.
One thing that terrified me after bringing my babies home was leaving it again. I thought, right, since I’m on maternity leave (with Monster), I won’t need to leave my home for at least two months and we’ll be home safe and snug until the need arises to go somewhere. Little did I know that my first reason to leave the house would be three days after coming home because I tore my stitches and I had to go back to the doctor.
My first real outing with him happened a few weeks later and it scared the living daylights out of me because there were so many levels of danger out there. In fact, each time I went out, I felt stress waves pass through me because I always feared what others would say about what and how I was doing things.
When you’re a first-time mama, that’s pretty much what happens: other mamas telling how to do things and when and why. They do try to help to some extent, it just doesn’t help with the feeling of personal inadequacy.
Oh and side note, even if you’re a veteran mama, others will still find reason to tell you what you’re doing wrong and how you should be doing things instead.
I’ll admit. I winged it a lot. I was the first one in our friends group to have kids so I didn’t have anyone to look out to for advice. I didn’t have a mama tribe to reach to for advice or support. Most of the parenting books I had read made me feel like I was doing NOTHING right, and that didn’t help with my confidence.
Sometimes, mamahood can be a lonely place.
As time event on and I had my other kids, I began to realise how many things I could do differently, and would’ve done differently had I known when I first became a mama.
This post is based on one of those things: learning from past experiences and doing things differently to make life with a baby a little easier.
Here are my tips for leaving home with a baby that I applied with my last two kids because the struggles with my oldest were real!
Avoid busy places
Mistake numero uno! The first outing I had with Monster was taking him to a rugby match (Hubby Byren coached a team and I went to watch the game). I didn’t enjoy much of it because I kept worrying about the noise waking Monster up, the weather (it was still winter time) and where I would be able to comfortably sit down and feed him when needed.
As it turned out, the noise never bothered him and he slept soundly. He was dressed right for the weather and was comfortable throughout the outing. I was able to find places to feed him whenever it was neccessary.
I felt paranoid because I was overwhelmed by the environment around me.
If you’re planning your baby’s first outing, and it feels overwhelming to you, avoid busy and crowded places until you start feeling more comfortable.
Try keep the timing short
Don’t overdo that very first outing. You want to enjoy the experience, not regret every decision you made about it.
I want to say that choosing a five hour outing for your first outing is a big NO-NO! Not only could it be tiring for your baby (yes, for your baby because everyone wants to hold your little one, plus all the new sights and smells can be overly stimulating), but you’ll also be exhausted. Being sleep-deprived brings along a new meaning of tired, and if you’re out for a while, you might not enjoy the outing as much as you had wanted.
Try and keep the first outings short while you and your baby ease into them.
Dress according to the weather
I worried about how to dress my kids every time we left home to go out.
Did I put on too many layers? Not enough layers?
The rule of thumb I went on: to dress them in one more layer of clothing than I was wearing to be comfortable in the same environment.
Keep the nappy bag stocked up
Don’t make this mistake! I’ve found myself with a shortage of nappies, no wet wipes, missing changing mat and not enough formula to last throughout the outing.
When you’re sleep-deprived, you forget things. It doesn’t make you a bad mama.
You’re looking after a little person and your attention isn’t always on keeping the nappy bag stocked up.
What I found worked best for me was to restock the nappy bag every time we came back from an outing. I made sure there were extra nappies, enough wet wipes, bum cream, nappy bags and extra sets of clothes.
The only things I packed before leaving home were the bottles and formula (in Gremlin’s case and earlier on in Monster’s case when I stopped breastfeeding).
Extra clothes for mama
I can’t say it enough: make sure you pack a clean shirt for yourself as well. Even a complete outfit if you must. Whether its spit up or a poop explosion, you don’t want to be stuck wearing smelling clothing for the rest of the outing.
Also, the extra shirt is essential if you’re breastfeeding because you never know when you might have a leak accident and might need a wardrobe change. It happened to me, my breast pads filled up too quickly as I was trying to find a secluded place to breastfeed Monster and the rest of my milk explored my shirt. We were close by our home so I was able to quickly go change but that’s not always the case.
If you’re formula feeding, make sure you pack enough formula for the day. I eventually started packing an extra container with formula to cover any unforseen situations. I stored extra boiled water in a mini thermos that easily fitted into my nappy bag.
If you’re breastfeeding, make sure to wear a shirt that is easily accessible when needing to feed your baby. I opted for button up shirts because I didn’t need to expose half of my upper body each time I needed to feed my baby. Also pack in a feeding cover, but a receiver blanket works just as well.
Breastfeeding in public can be overwhelming the first couple of times but it doesn’t need to be. With these tips, you can master breastfeeding in public in no time.
Snacks for you
Outings take energy, energy you don’t have a lot in supply of. I always felt tired during and after the outings but what I eventually found was that packing healthy snacks and energy bars helped me stay ‘awake’ while we were out and about.
Wear baby or use a pram
Wearing your baby works great during an outing because you’re hands-free as well as your baby is close to you. It will help with keeping them calm while out and about, and could help with making the whole experience less overwhelming for them.
If you’re using a pram, make sure to take a cover with to protect your baby from sunlight. Sunscreen is not recommended for babies under six months so be sure to keep them shaded at all times. Make sure that there is also a free flow of air when you place the cover on the pram.
Hand sanitizer is your best friend. I still carry some in my bag to this day because there’s always an opportunity for it to be needed.
Nuby sells All Natural Pacifier and Teether Wipes which I only discovered after Cay was born.
They work great on the go because you never know when there is an accident and you have no water available to clean your baby’s dummy or teether.
- People will want to touch your baby.
- People will want to pick up your baby.
- People will want to kiss your baby.
Some people ask, some people don’t.
Don’t be afraid to say no to anybody if you don’t feel comfortable with it. Especially with people wanting to kiss your baby.
Germs spread so easily and those little babies can get severely sick. If someone takes offence because you don’t allow them to touch or pick up your baby, that’s not your problem. Your main concern is to keep your baby safe, so speak up!
I hope your first outing with your baby is pleasant and with minimal hassles. I’m being realistic here: there might be a few ups and downs as you both get use to the new experience.
What advice do you have for leaving home with a baby that I didn’t mention?