Home Mental Health & Well-Being Tips for Relaxing Outdoor Trips with Your New Baby

Tips for Relaxing Outdoor Trips with Your New Baby

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The arrival of a new baby changes many things, not the least of which is just getting out the door. Going out of the house with a baby needs more planning and extra supplies. But there is no reason you can’t build up to the outdoor adventures you used to love, whether a gentle walk along the river or a hike up into the hills.  I am a lover of the wild outdoors and I have compiled a guide to help you get out and about with your new baby.

Nature is good for you

Spending time outdoors is good for us. Connecting with nature has been shown to benefit us both mentally and physically; it improves mood, increases feelings of calmness, reduces feelings of stress and anxiety, and can help with depression. But outdoor time does not have to involve strenuous activity and you should do the level that you enjoy – find your own adventure. Starting small is fine. Even having a cup of tea in the sunshine while listening to the birds can be a huge boost to your mood.

Walking is an excellent low-impact postpartum activity to help you regain strength and get your body moving again. While we fully advocate the post-birth “one week in bed, one week on the sofa” recommendation, going out for a walk once you feel ready will benefit you mentally and physically. Walking helps to improve sleep quality, improve mood and relaxation, tone your muscles, and boost your energy levels.

Bear in mind that during pregnancy, your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles have been seriously stretched, and your joint ligaments have loosened and are less stable. Your amazing body has worked hard to create your new baby. So do start gently and give yourself time to see how your body feels as you exercise. 

So, how do you go about getting outdoors with a baby?

Preparation

Any time you are taking your baby out of the house – be it for a supermarket shop, a walk in the local park, or a train to visit relatives – preparation always makes things easier. And that means making a list. Just like a packing list for a holiday, not everything in your first draft will make the final cut. Aim for a core collection that you then add to depending on the type of trip you’re making, perhaps keeping these must-haves in a pre-packed “outing bag”.  

Think about your route: Is there shelter if there’s a heavy downpour? Are there facilities like toilets or a café that can make changing, cleaning up, and refuelling easier? What is the terrain of the route you are planning – steep slopes, rough ground, likely obstacles (fences, gates, or streams)?

What would be easiest – a carrier or a buggy? Do you prefer the agility of a carrier on unknown terrain rather than having to manoeuvre the bulk of a buggy? Do you like being able to carry additional stuff in a buggy without having to think about the weight of carrying baby and gear? There is no right answer, so experiment with what works for you in different situations.

No pressure

For your first solo outing with your new baby, it’s a good idea to schedule a day and time – that will allow you to focus on prepping your “outing bag” – but give yourself permission to bail if the weather becomes unpleasant, if there’s a particularly messy nappy leakage to deal with, or if you just don’t feel like it. The outside world isn’t going anywhere. 

Pick a location and/or an activity you are really familiar with, so that the only new aspect is the baby. If you can go in company, even better, whether that’s a friend coming with you or joining a local parent-and-baby walking group. Also, allow yourself to be flexible; if you’d rather ditch the park for a hot chocolate at a nearby café, that’s fine.

Always check the weather

If it’s forecast to change from sunshine to rain or vice versa, you’ll want to be properly equipped; the right clothing makes a huge difference to your comfort during your outdoor adventure. The right layers make a big difference for how comfortable you and your baby will be. If you are babywearing, be aware that your body is a heat source, and that the carrier also counts as a layer (or multiple layers if using a stretchy wrap). Merino wool is a good choice for baby clothes, as it is a natural insulator that helps regulate temperature and stays comfortable even when damp. 

Avoid bulky clothing like snowsuits; these are a risk for overheating and prevent the sling from being snug against their body, thus providing the correct support. Choose lightweight options that you can layer, like Grow Wild’s merino wool baby onesie.

Walking and carrying will also warm you up; expect to sweat! Wear a base layer top made from quick-drying fabric underneath the sling, such as bamboo maternity and nursing tops, and layer up over the top with zip-up fleeces or jackets; this will give you more flexibility for temperature changes without having to remove the baby from the sling.

There are various choices for staying dry when babywearing, from waterproof babywearing coats to sling covers. Babywearing coats are a fantastic way of keeping your little one warm, dry and snuggled in against you without having to worry too much about baby’s clothing layers. The best ones are versatile enough to see you through pregnancy, different stages of babywearing and leave you with a good coat even after your little one is running ahead alone.

If you are out with a buggy or pram, then the general rule for baby clothing is one more layer than the adult is wearing. Babies in buggies won’t be moving enough to generate much heat, so depending on the weather, an additional layer like a blanket or a pramsuit may be needed. In cold weather, don’t forget to keep the extremities warm – hats, mittens and booties.

Don’t forget suncream and UV-protective clothing on sunny days. Long sleeves, high necklines and lightweight fabric are the way to go, combined with a hat. Although your baby gets older, good luck keeping that hat on. 

Feeding

If formula feeding, you’ll need to bring the required amount of formula powder in a sterile container plus a vacuum flask of water boiled just before leaving the house (it should maintain a safe, bacteria-killing temperature of above 70°C for several hours). Alternatively, you could bring “ready to feed” cartons or make up your own in advance; this needs to be used within two hours if kept at room temperature.

If you are breastfeeding, again, your choice of clothing can make things much easier, whether that’s wanting to be able to feed discreetly or draft-free, or trying to nurse in a sling. We have bamboo breastfeeding tops that have been designed specifically for comfort and easy access when out and about. I have personally used these Grow Wild tops to nurse in forests and up mountains, and I love camping in them too (no more chilly night-time feeds).

Outdoor nappy changes

An outdoor nappy change is going to be required at some point. Having something waterproof for you to kneel on can be handy. There are some good portable changing mats that are lightweight, can be clipped to a bag or sling, and will also hold wet wipes, nappy bags, and nappies.

Remember, you are still you

Women can feel that their old sense of identity disappears during early motherhood; getting back out and doing activities you love can help. It may be different, it may require more support and it may feel harder to find the time and energy, but you can continue to do what you love. If you are feeling nervous about the prospect of getting outside with your baby, then build your confidence slowly and, if you can, bring a friend or family member for moral support (and to carry some of your stuff).

Every outing will be different, and you will find out what works for you, so try not to stress if it doesn’t go according to plan; it gets easier with practice.




Clare Winton is the founder of Grow Wild Clothing, inspired by Clare’s love of outdoor adventures.

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