3 Experts on When Can Babies Go Outside
You’ve probably heard differing opinions on when can babies go outside. So to help clear up the confusion, here are what experts say about the topic.
Dr. Anne Hansen, Medical Director of NICU at Children’s Hospital Boston
When can babies go outside?
As soon as you feel she’s healthy, says Dr. Hansen in an article published on WebMD.
She debunked the myth that babies need to be more than a month old before going out. “As long as your baby is healthy, getting some fresh air can be great for mom and baby if you take a few precautions.”
What are these precautions?
First on the list is dressing your little one appropriately. Do not overdress or underdress her. A good benchmark would be your own clothes. If you’re wearing two layers of clothes, do the same for your baby.What I did before is to take with me two or three extra clothes with varying thickness plus a blanket as well.
Next on the list is to keep her out of direct sunlight. To do that, you have to cover her with clothing or an umbrella. If it’s summer, you can look for thin long-sleeved shirts for your baby.
Lastly, stay away from public places where sick people can go such as restaurants, malls, or parks.
I, personally, do not recommend going to crowded places for the first few weeks (even birthday parties and weddings!). People at these events could be sneezing and coughing, and I don’t want my babies to get that.
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John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
There’s no exact date on when can babies go outside, says an article on the hospital’s website.
“Whenever you feel up to it,” is the site’s advice.
But make sure that the weather is optimal for the both of you--it’s not too hot or too cold.
Also, keep these tips in mind:
Avoid public places such as malls or movie theaters until your baby’s more than a month old. A newborn’s immune system is not yet fully developed before that; hence, exposing them in these places risks them from getting infections from others.
Keep her vaccinations up to date.
Stay away from people with runny nose and diarrhea. These two are very contagious.
Dress your baby appropriately. (If I may add, I wrote an article about the best newborn baby hats.)
Tell people who want to touch your little one to wash their hands first.
My personal note:
Some people may be offended when you ask them to wash first, so what I do is tell them how I’d love for them to hold my child. But I would only do so when their hands are washed.
I then go on explaining how vulnerable my baby is at that stage, so I would prefer it if they wash first.
Usually, moms themselves understand and health practitioners too. I’ve met probably just one or two who thought I was insulting them.
Guess who cut ties with them.
Jan White, Early Childhood Consultant
In the book Exploring Outdoor Play in the Early Years, Jan White outlines the benefits of taking your baby outdoors. She does not specifically talk about the right time, but her writeup encompasses a suitable outdoor environment for “children from birth to 2.”
Hence, I assume that she supports what other experts mentioned in the above sections: as soon as you’re both ready and healthy.
Going back to the benefits, here are what she mentioned:
The outdoors develop our babies’ sensory system. The multi-sensory nature of the outdoors, from the breeze that blows on your face to the smell of the blooming flowers, makes it a perfect place to grow your little one’s sensory systems.If you live close to nature, away from the busy character of a city, it’s much perfect. The outdoors provide plenty of sensory experience for your baby without overwhelming her.
A naturally rich landscape enhances babies’ vision and hearing. The various objects we can see and hear outside are good for our little ones. The variety in sizes, movements, light and shadow, sounds, etc. stimulate their senses.These scenarios coincide with our babies’ sight and hearing development. At 3 months, for example, they start understanding visual contrasts. The light and shadow are perfect cues.
A cool, oxygen-rich outdoors help them sleep well. In some cultures, specifically the Nordic, they allow their babies to nap outdoors even at freezing temperatures. It has been a practice they had for years, and the parents report better sleep quality than napping indoors.All the parents have to do is make sure their babies are in a safe and secure environment and they are wearing the appropriate clothes.
A BBC article sums up this story by quoting a Swedish saying:
“There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Is the sun harmful to your baby?
So even if babies can go outside anytime you feel like it, you still need to take precautions.
What these academies recommend are:
Keeping your baby in the shade
Dressing them in protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants
Using a minimal amount of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
However, in some cultures, it could be different.
In one study, Meena and colleagues concluded that sun exposure in the morning and afternoon were beneficial for infants with Vitamin D deficiency.
The infants were exposed in the prone position for at least 30 minutes weekly for a couple of weeks, clothed only in diapers.
During the follow-up, the babies’ serum 25(OH)D level increased by 1.07 ng/mL.
I would like to note, however, that this study is conducted in India. The strength of the sun’s UV rays in that country is different from ours, says the World Health Organization.
Also, fair-skinned individuals are more prone to skin cancer than those with darker skin tones. Hence, if you’re planning to give your baby some sunbathing, ask your pediatrician first.
So, when can babies go outside?
As soon as its safe for you and your baby. Just make sure to follow the tips from the experts above.