Crying and fussing seems so much louder when you’re in public place than when you’re at home. The first time I went out with my daughter, I was so afraid I would be seen as “the woman with the crying baby.” Sometimes our fear of what people will think about us can really affect our parenting.
Despite my initial trepidation of going out with a young baby, I’ve taken my baby everywhere from restaurants to parks, and even to other states. Taking your baby out is an important part of their social and mental development. Babies learn from doing not from yelling. So if you want children who are respectful, polite, and easy going in public, then you must take a leap of faith, take them out and show them how to behave around others. This is easier to do at 6 months old than it will be at 2 or 3 years old.
Now that my little moon is 7 months old, I feel like a pro at taking her out.
Here are some tips to help you navigate the world with your baby.
You are your baby’s connection to the outside world. When you’re happy and relaxed, most like she or he will be too. So before going out, smell some lavender, take a bath, do some yoga. Do whatever you can do to relax before you go out. If you’re anxious, your outing with your little one is not going to be fun. You’ll be tired and frustrated instead of calm and confident, and you won’t be able to meet your child’s needs effectively.
Take care of all your baby’s needs before leaving the house. Your baby should be well fed and have a clean diaper before you go. There are several days when my little one poops right before we leave or screams for food as if she’s starving even though she may have just ate. As inconvenient as it feels, I unstrap her from the car seat, go back in the house, and change or feed her. Patience. This is a key component to happy parenting. Once my little moon is happy and clean, we get going.
Carry extra supplies with you
Make sure you have more than enough of everything. Pack a regular diaper bag. Also, have a back up bag with more diapers, clothes, toys. Make sure you have plenty of extra food. If you pack the extra materials in a separate bag, you can leave it in the trunk of your car just in case you need it and you don’t have to lug it around with you. This extra bag of goodies will prevent you from freaking out if anything unexpected happened.
The first few times you go out with your baby, choose some short trips. A 30 minute walk through the mall, a quick trip to the store, a 1 hour walk around the park. Give you and your baby time to adjust and figure out what works. What’s the best way to keep your baby happy? How do you prevent meltdowns? It takes time to cater these techniques to you and your child’s need.
Have an exit plan
Always have a plan for how to exit the store or place you’re going. If you’re going to the restaurant, see if you can get a table close to the door or restroom. Make sure you know the signs your baby shows before the full out crying fest. Once he or she starts showing the signs, excuse yourself and walk with your child. Feed her, change her, soothe her and return once she’s calm. If you go to a park or outdoor space, you will not have to worry as much about the noise. Keep in mind, babies cry. It’s not the end of the world. Stay calm, meet your child’s needs and he will usually settle down rather quickly. Don’t focus on hushing your baby. Focus on meeting her needs.
Use a Baby Carrier
If your baby tends to be fussy out in public, use a baby carrier. Babywearing does more than just free up your hands, it helps your baby hear your heartbeat and feel your energy. You two shared a body for 9 months. I think for babies, the carrier makes them feel comfortable because they’re close to you again. My daughter rarely cries when she is tied to me in a baby carrier. This is especially useful for when we go somewhere and are planning to do a lot of walking. Strollers are great, but in unfamiliar places, babies feel more comfortable when they are connected to you.
You’re a parent. This is not a 18 year prison sentence. It should be a fun and rewarding experience. Don’t just take your baby to run errands and then get frustrated when the baby gets tired and whiny. You would be whiny too if someone older and bigger than you dragged you all over the city against your will to do mundane stuff. Does that sound fun? No. I understand all of life is not going to be fun for your little one, but consider going out with him or her and spending some real quality time enjoying each other. If you spend one-on-one time and family time together, you will be taking conscious steps to raise a child who is a joy to be around.
Ready to go out now? Read this article for some ideas on baby appropriate things to do.