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When Is Your Baby Ready For... Social Activities

  • ...Fly on a Plane?
    After the first month. In general, doctors like babies to be at least a month old before they fly to Grandma's house. The main reasons? Mom needs to recuperate and baby needs time to adjust to life outside the womb in her home environment. But if there is a compelling reason you need to fly with a newborn younger than that (like you're bringing home an adopted baby), go ahead.

    Our tip: book an aisle seat (easy in and out) in the front of the plane (less noisy). Offer a paci, bottle, or breast. The sucking/ swallowing action will ease the ear pain that often bothers babies on take off and landing. And at least your baby's age is on your side: if it's a short flight, he'll probably sleep the whole time.

  • ...Have her Clothes Washed with Everyone Else's?
    Now! You don't need to wash a baby's clothes separately, once you've washed them that first time before wearing. As long as you're using a dye and fragrance-free detergent, toss them in with the rest of the family's. The only exception we can think of is if your husband does something out of that show "Dirty Jobs" and his clothes are really muddy. But even in that case, you can still wash your baby's clothes with yours.
  • ...Go for a Dip?
    When the weather gets warmer, when is it okay to expose a child to the chlorine in a pool or unknown funkiness in lake or ocean water?

    What you need to know Six months is a reasonable age to take your child for a "swim" in your arms. Why wait that long? "I worry about younger infants getting too cold in the water, even in a heated pool. By six months they develop the ability to regulate their body temperature," says Dr. Roche. No matter where you swim, just make sure she doesn't swallow the water; bacteria, including those from other babies wearing (or not wearing) diapers, could be lurking. One concern to scratch off your list: your baby's skin being affected by the chlorine.

  • ...Go Out in a Crowd?
    1 month, other than pediatrician appointments. The concern with a newborn being in a crowd is that he'll catch an infection, which in the first month can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat. Most infections come from touch or sneezing. If you really must go into a crowd with your newborn (say, for your grandmother's 85th-birthday party), squelch the game of "pass the baby."

    In fact, before anyone picks up your baby, ask him to wash his hands. In a pinch, you might want to bring a bottle of hand sanitizer to make it easy. (You may hear whispering about your being overprotective. Ignore it.) If the party is indoors and cousin Joe is coughing, you'll want to say your goodbyes early.