When Can Your Newborn Go Outside?

Mother carrying her newborn baby
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If your baby is less than a month old and you're cooped up in the house with her—or perhaps you have older kids who are dying to go outside—you're probably wondering when it's safe to take her outdoors.

The good news is, getting some fresh air and natural sunlight is good for both you and your baby, no matter how recently she was born. In fact, there is no medical reason not to take her outside the day after you take her home from the hospital, as long as you both feel up to it.

However, there are some precautions and restrictions you should implement in order to keep your baby healthy outside. Here are some guidelines for where to go and not to go with your newborn, dressing her appropriately, and more. 

Avoid Large Crowds 

While it's fine to go out in the yard or to a quiet park, you'll want to try your best to avoid places where there are crowds for the first three to four weeks of your baby's life. The younger she is, the more immature her immune system, and the more susceptible she is to pick up germs from other people and nearby coughs, sneezes, and unclean hands. Babies are irresistible, which means strangers may want to touch and play with her—leaving you with less control over what she's exposed to. So, keep that in mind before you head to the mall or the local swimming pool. And when family members or friends want to hold your baby, insist that they wash their hands first.

Dress Her the Same as You Dress Yourself

Before you head out and about, you might be tempted to bundle your baby up in extra layers, or if it's summertime, to put her in a stroller in just her diaper. The general rule of thumb is to dress your baby in clothes appropriate for the weather—don't dress him too hot or too cold. Use your own clothing as a guide. If you're wearing a coat, your baby should, too. Ditto for gloves and socks. If it's a scorcher out and you're sweating, a diaper will do just fine. But heed the next tip, especially in the warmer months.

Protect Your Baby From the Elements

Put your baby in a hat and other gear that will provide sun protection. It's best not to use sunscreen on young babies. If you absolutely must, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only using on small areas like the face or backs of hands. The best sun protection for small babies is shade and clothing. If you do use sunscreen, make sure to test a small area of your baby's skin for an allergic reaction. If it's windy, protect your baby's hands and face which can become easily chapped and painful.

When you get home from an outing, be sure to wash your baby's hands if anyone touched her, especially in her first month of life. Beyond that time frame, it's much safer to expose her to other people.

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