How Soon Can a Newborn Baby Go Out in Public?

mom pushing stroller park

Once you're home with your newborn, your first mama bear urge may be to hunker down and stay put. After all, babies' delicate immune systems aren't used to all the germs out there, and the last thing you want is for your infant to get sick. As hard as it may be to face this, one of these days you're going to have to go out and about with baby in tow. If you're wondering how soon is too soon, here's what the doctors have to say:

"There is no correct medical answer to this question," says Jenny Thomas, MD, a pediatrician with Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee.

In other words: it largely boils down to your personal preference and what makes sense for your life. For instance, if you have an older child and need to drop him off at school in the mornings, taking your baby with you in a carrier is perfectly fine.

Yet while there is no rigid timetable for when baby should make his debut, many doctors do stick with a "wait until 6 to 8 weeks" rule if outings can be avoided.

Acknowledging personal preference and location play a big role. Genevieve Fairbrother, MD, an OB/GYN at Northside Hospital, the largest birthing hospital in the US, says, "It's best to avoid public crowds and non-essential outings until that time.

"This is because during the first 6 to 8 weeks, the baby's immune system is still developing," Dr. Fairbrother explains, "making them at risk for serious infections that coincide with fever."

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Other factors to consider: Was the baby born premature? Is the baby already acting fussy or unwell? These are reasons to consider steering clear of crowds or unnecessary outings. Meanwhile, moms who breastfeed may also enjoy knowing that their breast milk adds an extra layer of protection against illness.

"If a baby is exclusively breastfed, that child is getting factors that enhance his immune system and therefore makes us less worried about taking them into public," says Dr. Thomas. "As long as mom and baby are together, mom will make antibodies against the diseases the two of them come across. If the baby is formula fed, he doesn't have the same protections and therefore more caution should be used when exposing the baby to other people or to large crowds."

If and when you do go out, it can help to exercise a few rules of caution. For instance, make sure that people wash their hands with soap and water before handling your baby. Avoid anyone who is sick or recovering from sickness.

And while it may come as a surprise, here's some good news for moms: time spent outdoors is actually less germy than in, since air isn't easily circulated and cleaned in close quarters.

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