When Can Your Newborn Go Outside?

Mother carrying her newborn baby

Kathrin Ziegler / Taxi / Getty Images

The idea that newborn babies should stay inside is a myth. Getting fresh air and natural sunlight is good for both you and your baby, no matter how recently they were born. In fact, there is no medical reason not to take your little one outside the day after you bring them home from the hospital, as long as you both feel up to it.

However, you should take some precautions to support your baby's health and safety when you taken them outside. Know where it's safe to go with your newborn, how to dress them appropriately, and how to protect them from the elements. 

Avoid Large Crowds 

It's fine to take your newborn out in the yard, on a stroll around your neighborhood, or to a quiet park. In the first week, you'll also take your baby to their first well-child visit. You might also take them into other uncrowded public spaces. However, you'll want to try to avoid places where there are crowds for the first several months of your baby's life.

The younger your baby is, the more immature their immune system is. An immature immune system makes them more susceptible to picking up germs from other people and nearby coughs, sneezes, and unclean hands. Once your baby reaches two to three months old, their immune system will mature significantly and you won't need to be as concerned about exposing them to other people.

However, many people find babies irresistible, which means strangers may want to touch and play with them—leaving you with less control over what they're exposed to. So, keep that in mind before you head to the mall or the local swimming pool.

A good way to protect your baby from strangers' potentially germ-laden hands is to wear your baby in a sling or other carrier. However, it's perfectly acceptable to ask people not to touch your baby. When family members or friends want to hold your baby, ask that they wash their hands first.

Dress Your Baby for the Weather

If it's cold outside, you'll need to bundle your baby up in extra layers so that they stay warm. But you also don't want them to overheat. If it's summertime, babies need less clothing. The general rule is to dress your baby for the weather—not too hot and not too cold—and then add an additional layer.

Use your own clothing as a guide. If you're comfortable wearing a T-shirt, put your baby in a long-sleeved shirt. If you're wearing a sweatshirt, your baby may also need a light jacket on top of a warmer, long-sleeved bodysuit. Always have a spare blanket on hand to use as an extra layer if your baby seems cold.

Babies can't regulate their body temperature as efficiently as adults can. So, keep a careful eye on your baby to make sure they aren't too hot or cold. Listen to your baby's cues. If they are uncomfortable, they will cry to let you know. If the temperature is cold, keep your baby bundled up snugly with hands and feet tucked in to stay warm.

If your baby is too hot, they may get flushed and a little sweaty at the hairline. Remove a layer or blanket. As long as the baby isn't in the sun, it's OK for them to wear just a diaper if it's very hot outside, but they should not stay out in the heat for long.

Protect Your Baby From the Elements

Whether it is winter or summer, face the elements with the right protection for your newborn when you take them outside. Here's what you need to know for each season of the year.

In Winter

It's perfectly safe to take your baby outside in the winter, provided they are bundled up properly, the temperature isn't too cold, and you keep the trip brief. In fact, babies can benefit from exposure to fresh air and natural light, especially if they are colicky.

Babies are at an increased risk of hypothermia, due to their still developing nervous system, minimal amount of subcutaneous fat, and inability to shiver to bring up their body temperature. It's still okay to take your baby out for quick trips, provided the windchill factor is above 20°F. Do not stay out for longer than a few minutes.

In Spring

Spring is a wonderful time of year to have a newborn. Winter's cold has started to thaw, and the days are getting longer. This is an ideal time to enjoy a walk or trip to the playground with older kids.

Spring days can be deceptive, though. A bright and clear day can quickly give way to gusts of wintry air or a sudden rain shower. Always check the weather before taking the baby out in the spring and be prepared with an umbrella for the stroller, extra blankets, and a change of clothes in case you get caught in an unexpected downpour.

In Summer

In summer, you need to protect your baby from the sun, excessive heat, and mosquitoes. On hot summer days, try to avoid going out in the heat of the day, and instead try to time outdoor activities for the morning or late afternoon. If the heat index reaches 90°F, head inside.

Babies under 6 months of age should not use sunscreen, so you'll need to keep your baby in the shade and use a sun hat. When taking a walk or going to the park, use a stroller with shade and check to make sure the baby isn't in direct sunlight at any time.

If your area has a lot of mosquitoes, you may want to use a mesh net to cover the stroller or pack-n-play in the backyard, but be sure the mesh is away from your baby's face.

In Fall

Just like springtime, autumn can be a great time to have a baby. The temperature is moderate, with lots of sunny days and colorful leaves to enjoy. However, the weather can change quickly on fall days as well.

In early fall, chilly mornings can give way to summer-like afternoons, while in late autumn, bright sunny days can have a deceptive winter chill. Layering is key in fall weather, so be sure to have extra blankets with you to keep your newborn warm outdoors.

When You Get Home

When you get home from an outing, be sure to wash your newborn's hands, especially if anyone has touched them. It's also important to wash your own hands to avoid transferring anything from yourself to the baby. Some parents feel better giving their baby a bath after coming home from excursions, especially shopping trips to the grocery store or mall where the baby may have been exposed to germs.

13 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Cleveland Clinic. Is your newborn baby's immune system strong enough?.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After the baby arrives.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnant and recently pregnant people.

  5. Lancaster General Health. Tips on dressing your baby for every season.

  6. American Academy of Pediatrics. Tips to keeping your baby warm all winter.

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By Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown is a parenting writer with experience in the Head Start program and in NAEYC accredited child care centers.