One of the hardest things about having a new baby is finding the time to do something--anything that will get the baby and her parents out of the house and give her parents back some of their hard-fought sanity. Whether it's nervousness on the parents behalf, or simply parents just aren't sure at what age babies can really interact with others.
New parents often feel trapped because they're told that they can't take their baby out for at least the first month of baby's life due to the amount of germs that are out in the world that could compromise a baby's immune system. But guess what? The one place that the baby is allowed to go is the doctor's office, and no place on Earth is dirtier or contains more germs than a doctor's office. So why are parents worried about going other places with their infants?
It's probably not a good idea to keep a baby who is less than 1-month-old out for too long, but new parents shouldn't have to feel like prisoners in their own homes either. Most of the ideas that follow for getting the baby out of the house are suggested for parents of children who are over a month old and who have begun to receive their immunizations so they're better protected from illnesses upon being introduced to larger groups of children and parents.
That being said, there are some ideas here that can be exercised by parents of newborns as well. Now get out there and live!
15 Visit A Pet Store
This one can be dangerous, so it's good to go when the child is very little and does not understand the fact that some people bring these animals home! Put another way, a baby can't ask for a new puppy to come home with her if she thinks they just live at the store! Pet stores are good for visiting littler animals, like fish, bunnies, and birds. (Another great place to stare at fish all day? The aquarium!)
Some pet stores host adoption events, so by all means, if parents are interested in bringing home a family pet, then these are great events to check out. The parents can introduce the baby to the dog or cat they are considering bringing home and see how each interact with each other.
Or, if adoption is not in the plans, parents can simply bring the kids by to say hi to and pet the animals (asking permission first, of course, from the animal handlers) for something to do when there's nothing to do.
14 Join A Mom Group
Check to see if there is a Mommy and Me group conducting meetups in the local area. These groups get together for everything from playdates at moms' houses to the-end-of-summer barbecues in parks.
There are even events created for just the moms to get together and defrag with each other, whether it's to enjoy a wine tasting or to pick up a new skill that is also beneficial to being a mom, like learning how to knit or sew.
What's great about the moms-only events is that these are a great way for moms to get to know the other moms in the group before introducing their children. If they find that these are the kinds of moms whose kids they don't want their own children hanging out with, then they can bow out before involving the children.
This prevents the children who don't know any better from becoming too attached to each other while Mom looks for the right moment to pack up and leave.
13 Sign Up For Swimming Lessons
A lot of parents still don't know how to swim, even as adults. What better way to bond with the baby than to enroll both parent(s) and child in swimming lessons? What's great about swimming lessons is that, because many swim classes are hosted inside, parents and children alike can enjoy the pool even in the winter weather!
Swim lesson packages can differ depending upon the business offering them, and parents can opt for whichever package they feel would be most beneficial, whether it's a standard three-lesson package or perhaps more.
The younger the child when he learns how to swim, the longer he will have that very important life skill. Why not use this opportunity to turn spare time into something potentially life-saving and, at the very least, fun?
12 Start A Mom Group
If there isn't a mom's group in the local area, create one. Or if the local mom group does not seem to have any feasible options (for example, they don't meet up on weekends because they cater more to stay-at-home moms, rather than working moms), then create events within the group that other moms can respond to and that make the group more interesting.
Mom groups tend to be pretty flexible, so their members can attend or create events in which they would be most interested in participating.
For some event ideas, some moms host little get-togethers in their homes on the weekends with a common theme, like playing in the kiddie pool or sandbox, where their kids get to play as they get to know each other. Everyone brings a snack or a drink for the kiddies, which is a great way to make sure that their children can bring exactly what they like to eat or drink without offending anyone.
And, if anyone else wants to share, bonus! Other moms will host events like barbecues or games at the local park, so all the other moms have to pay for is parking and whatever snacks they want to bring.
11 Enjoy Some Backyard Fun
Parents can have just as much fun with their kiddos right in their own backyard. They don't have to spend any money when they play in the backyard, even if that money is just the gas that it takes to get to the local free park. Especially when they're really little, kids don't need a lot to make them happy. Chances are, a stick will keep them more entertained than that $25 toy they received as a Christmas present.
Don't sweat the small stuff, in this case. Dirt will inevitably end up on the baby's knees, hands, butt, and in his hair. Try to relax and let the kid be a kid. When there are so many things to look at, like bugs on the ground, planes in the air, or even a leaf floating in the wind, children don't need much more to be enthralled. Don't forget, this is all still pretty new, so every little thing is still fascinating to them.
10 Go For A Mall Walk
Moms tend to complain that they simply can't shake the baby weight and have no time to do so. A great way to get back in shape is to walk, and a great place to walk is the mall. The buildings are huge, and in good weather, moms can walk the entirety of the inside of the building and then, if they're feeling energetic, they can tour the circumference of the outside as well.
Leave the wallet at home or in the car, and take the baby window-shopping. Part of the fun of mall-walking is oohing and aahing over the goodies that stores have to offer, and leaving the wallet at home ensures that Mom will still feel just as cheerful when she leaves as she did when she walked in. Going broke on every mall walk is a sure way to sour an otherwise enjoyable activity.
9 Arrange A Play Date
Play dates differ from Mommy and Me events in that the moms who get together for play dates tend to know each other and have children that are similar in age. These play dates can alternate insofar as whose mom will be hosting, and the moms can choose to get together every week, every two weeks, every month--whatever is best for everyone's schedule.
Try not to get too crazy with the play dates, though. Sure, it's great to catch up with old friends and to watch children grow up together, but some children have schedules that are twice as busy as those of their parents! But don't worry. The children will still grow up being close to each other and socially adjusted, whether they see each other once a month or every other week.
8 Head To The Grocery Store
Going to the grocery store with a baby sounds like the last thing a parent wants to do, but it can actually be a lot of fun. The older the baby gets, and the more things he recognizes around him, the more he will want to show off and talk about every item his parents pass by or pick up.
A grocery store run is also a great way to point out things like colors and shapes to the baby, as well as teaching him things like the different fruits or vegetables he could eat.
A great way to keep the baby from having a meltdown is to let him hold the item that he is screaming for, but distract him with something else later on that was going to be bought anyway, like a package of butter for instance. Once he drops the item it can be put back without him knowing (just don't head back to the toy aisle if it can be helped!).
The baby will forget it ever even existed, and his parents can pay for the item they were going to buy anyway, rather than spoil the baby by buying him something new every time they go to the store. (Note: this becomes less effective as the baby gets older and develops his memory, but for now, run with it!)
7 Go For A Stroller Walk/Run
This is similar to the mall walk option presented above, only the baby does not necessarily need to leave the neighborhood. Some of the more energetic parents out there having strollers that were specifically made for jogging, but a regular stroller will do just fine. Get out there and enjoy that beautiful weather, and take the baby for a stroller walk or run.
This is also a great way to get a fussy baby to go to sleep. Also, like the grocery store tip, the baby's parents can point out to her all of the interesting colors, shapes, animals, etc. that exist in her neighborhood and, once she gets older, she can start pointing them out to her parents, too! Bonus points for running into a neighbor that has children that are close in age and may also be interested in joining a mommy group!
6 Take A Library Tour
A lot of parents don't know this, but their local libraries often have a ton of activities for children of all ages. For example, one local library had an incubator with chicken eggs in it, and children could come and watch the eggs to see if they would hatch while they were there. Then, of course, once the eggs did hatch, children were welcome to come and look at the baby chicks!
Many libraries host children's book readings, sometimes with light refreshments or sing-alongs. Children's book authors often stop by for visits, and there are often activities for the older children, too, like treasure hunts where they look for books of a certain theme throughout the library. And the best part of a library event is that it is usually free! How can anyone beat free fun?
5 Visit A Farmer's Market
Visiting a farmer's market is a good way to get some healthy and moderately inexpensive groceries into the refrigerator while also getting some fresh air with the baby; it's two-fold fun! Just like the grocery store, parents can point out the different colors, shapes, and sizes of the different fruits and vegetables to the baby.
And parents can feel good about giving back to their communities by shopping with small businesses.
If there are no farmer's markets in the local area, parents can also look into having fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to their homes via online providers like Golden Earthworm. No, this doesn't get the family out of the house for a bit, but it does help save them a trip when they don't want to go out.
If the weather's bad, or if the baby's in a bad mood, imagine how much easier life can be to open the door to a delivery and find a fresh food delivery sitting there, waiting to be thrown together for a meal!
4 Visit A Museum
Parents can also consider taking children out for a day at the museum. Some museums have kid-friendly sections for the older kids where they can read or engage with the items that are on display in order to learn more about how they work.
Babies, though, will get just as much enjoyment by simply looking around at the variety of things that a museum can offer, whether it's dinosaur bones (like the Museum of Natural History) or paintings (like the Museum of Modern Art).
Of course, parents of older children must keep an eye out that their children do not touch the items that they are not supposed to touch. And while museums are typically free to visit, many of them request a "voluntary donation" that may sometimes be less than voluntary and is essentially the charge of admission.
However, for the memories that are ultimately made, and the keepsake photos that are taken (when allowed) and enjoyed for years to come, the "donation" makes the trip certainly worth it, especially since a museum isn't typically the type of thing one could visit every day and see something new.
3 Visit A Petting Zoo
While babies may be too young for the "petting" part of a petting zoo, petting zoos are typically more child-friendly than regular zoos because children are permitted to get right up close to the animals. In most cases, children can feed them pellets they get from the little vending machines, but they can just enjoy looking at or talking to the animals just the same.
Plus, Mom and Dad can get some great pictures of little Billy just hanging out with a goat or lamb and send them off to Grandma and Grandpa!
A petting zoo is also a great way to get some fresh air since most of the animals are outside. It may be wiser to pick a lunch and snacks before heading to the zoo, though, since buying food on-site can be pricey, especially when bringing multiple children along.
And it never hurts to pack just because items, like pain medication, band-aids, and even an umbrella in case of an unpredicted shower.
2 Join A Postnatal Yoga Class
Here's another great suggestion for the mom who can't wait to get her pre-baby body back. And this time, she can even involve her baby! Postnatal yoga classes are often kid-friendly, allowing the baby to come along and they even incorporate exercises that baby can do right alongside Mommy!
These classes are great for moms who also want their kids to get involved in exercise too, because as the children grow, they can continue to do yoga with their parents if they're interested in doing so.
Not to exclude Dad from any activities, but sometimes dads need me-time, too. Mommy and Me classes and other events are a great way for Mom to get out of the house with the baby while allowing Dad to do his own thing, too, whether it's watching the game or going to see a movie with some friends. Never underestimate the importance of both parents being able to take a brief break once in awhile.
1 Visit A Playground
Playgrounds are one of the best ways to get the baby out of the house and socialize with other kids. Granted, infants can't do as much as the bigger kids can, but they can get a kick out of watching the big kids slide down the slide, swing on the swings, or run around and play tag with each other. (This is also a great way for moms to meet other moms and maybe even strike up playdates and Mommy and Me groups!)
Of course, the older baby gets, the more fun the playground becomes. But for now, Mom and Dad can enjoy socializing with other parents and basking in the warm sunshine. Before they know it, baby will be right up there on the slide, fighting to go down first with the other kids.
And the best thing about a playground is that, except for gas, this is yet another activity that parents and baby can enjoy for free!