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When Can I Take My Newborn Out in Public?

I am 35 weeks' pregnant and wondering when, after my baby is born, I’ll be able to get out and about with her. I think I will go stir crazy if I’m cooped up in the house too long! How long do doctors recommend that you wait until you take your newborn outside? What about public places? What about letting other people near my baby? And what are the risks you run if you don’t follow these precautions?
Nancy

There are no hard and fast medical rules about how long to wait before taking a newborn out into the world or letting outsiders near the baby. In fact, if it’s not too hot or cold out, you should feel free to take your baby outside — you both would both probably enjoy a stroll outside and some fresh air!

But if you visit public places, like malls, movie theaters, and airplanes, be careful to avoid exposing your newborn to infections that people carry. A newborn's immune system is still developing and may not be able to fight off infections. Some doctors prefer for you to wait until the baby is a few months old before going to crowded public places.

If you go out with your baby, it's wise to take these precautions:

  • Make sure your baby's vaccines are up to date.
  • Avoid exposing your child to people who are sick, even with things like diarrhea or runny noses.
  • Ask anyone who holds, touches, or feeds your newborn to wash his or her hands first.
  • Make sure that your baby is appropriately dressed when you go outdoors.

Your doctor may advise you to take extra precautions if your child was premature or has a condition that affects the immune system, like HIV.

If you have any questions, talk with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: July 2009

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