When you're home with a newborn, it's tempting to cocoon. After all, even a trip to the grocery store can be daunting: Do I really need to pack a change of clothes if I just need a carton of milk? We sought out veteran mamas for advice to help you get out of the house, from those first small steps all the way up to an overnighter.
Short Stops: Shop for groceries, pick up a prescription, deposit a check
Naptime Is Primetime
“I take the long way to the grocery store to make sure my 4-month-old falls deep into sleep,” says Amanda Grimm, a stay-at-home mom from Kettering, Ohio. “This way, I can take him into the store in his infant seat. I'll at least make it to the checkout line before he wakes up.” Once he's down for the count, you can extend naptime at the store. Gently pushing the cart back and forth can keep baby asleep while you wait at the pharmacy.
Before you head out the door, take a little time to plan your attack. Comparison shop by plugging in your ZIP code on groceryguide.com, selecting two grocery stores near you and comparing prices on items you need. Get coupons from dropdowndeals.com, a free browser add-on that displays current coupons on shopping websites like Kohl's and Target.
Shop Smarter, Not Harder
If you're already out, use the Google Shopper app to compare prices on everything from DVDs to diapers. Scan the barcode of any product and the app lists what sites carry the product and each website's prices on one screen.
“All you need: a boob, a sling and a diaper clutch for the essentials.” — RACHEL FROST
3-Hour Tour: Gossip with a girlfriend, find jeans that fit, date night
Make the Mall Your Best Friend
Everything's indoors, elevators for strollers and bathrooms with changing tables — the mall has it all. “Dressing rooms in larger department stores are perfect for nursing,” says Cheryl Wu, a New York City-based pediatrician and mom. Plus, you can have lunch or grab cofee with friends while you shop for new shoes (for both you and baby!).
Find a Flick
Movies, unlike happy hour, don't have to fall in the category of bygone pre-baby pastimes. Find baby-friendly movie showings with brighter lighting, changing stations, stroller parking and lowered movie volume for baby's sensitive hearing at nationalamusements.com, or find a retro-cool drive-in movie at driveinmovie.com. Summertime is perfect for an outdoor showing on the big screen — bring baby's favorite play mat or swing and some noiseless toys to keep her occupied.
Be an Early Bird
Pick off-beat times to dine out (like lunch at 11 a.m. or dinner at 4:30 p.m.). “Since the restaurant will be pretty empty, you won't be as stressed out if your baby gets fussy,” says Stewart Pim Goodbody, New York City mom to a 1-year-old daughter. Feed your baby first so he'll be happy/sleepy/full and an all-around much nicer dining companion.
“I love my Moby Wrap. I wear my baby everywhere, and it makes nursing so much easier without an extra cover to carry around.” — GINA MACALA
The Next 48: First trip to grandma's, a much-needed weekend away
When in doubt, borrow the items you need to make an overnight trip a success. “When we visit my mom, she calls some of her friends and asks to borrow things like a bouncy seat, a bathtub or a high-chair,” says Grimm. “While these things aren't all necessary, they make my life easier.” Going to a new city? Rent the necessities fromtravelbabees.com: Stroller, crib, swing and tons of toys are delivered right to your hotel room.
No Identity Crisis
Always take a copy of your child's birth certificate to verify her age if you're not buying a separate ticket — some airlines won't let you and baby board without it.
Marriott-brand hotels have the Tots Travel Too program, offering travel cribs, tub toys, outlet covers, toddler toiletries, night lights and bibs in hotel restaurants. Loews hotels offer strollers, play yards, car seats, bottle warmers and more at check-in.
Nurse (or bottle feed) during takeoff and landing to help baby's ears equalize.
Path of Least Resistance
Road-tripping it? The KidzOut app locates rest-rooms with well-equipped changing stations and 24-hour medical centers. The HopStop app highlights stroller-friendly subway or bus routes, meaning fewer stairs and more elevators.
Scenario: You left the diaper bag at home for a quick trip to the bank and got a flat tire. Your little bird is squawking to be fed while you wait for help, and you've got nothin'.
Solution: Assemble a bag of basics to leave in each caregiver's car in case of emergency. Periodically update for your growing baby. Include a:
Change of clothes
Diaper and travel wipes
Serving of powder formula
Bottle of sterilized water