How To Prepare For A Walk With A Baby – Sounds simple, right? Wrong! New mommas know, there’s nothing easy about babies. Everyone encourages new moms to get out of the house and take a walk. There are many reasons including exercise, fresh air, sunlight, and merely getting out of the house for a short time which feels good after you just had a baby. Doctors and other moms will agree. But what if your baby cries the second you put him in his car seat? What if you don’t know what to bring? Will he get hungry during the walk? These are all real fears and the reality of learning with a newborn.
I recently had a new momma reach out and ask how I prepare to take a walk with William as I’ve been taking them almost daily. Walks are my main form of fitness these days, so itz important to me I take them. Fitness should be fun and stress-free no matter what it is, and that’s how walks have become. Like most everything else with a baby, itz been trial and error, but I’ve figured out what works best for us. I hope you find these tips helpful because getting outside in the fresh air and warm sunshine feels so good, especially during times when you may need it most!
The first thing to consider when attempting to take a walk with your baby is the weather. Babies have a harder time than adults regulating their body temperature, so itz important you go during mild temperatures. I’ve been going in the morning before it gets too hot and before the sun is blazing. (Itz recommended that sunscreen is used only on babies six months older, though some people use it sooner. I try to avoid situations where I would need to use sunscreen on William as I don’t want him exposed to the sun for long periods of time right now.)
Itz better to go if itz a little cooler rather than a little hotter. The reason being that you can always bundle up your baby, but itz harder to cool them off. And a hot baby is a cranky baby, and nobody wants that. We’ve had unseasonably cooler temperatures in St. Louis for July. Many mornings have been barely 60 degrees, so I keep William in his footed cotton sleeper, add a hat, and put a lightweight blanket on him. That has worked well. If itz 70, he’s in a onesie and a lightweight blanket with the option to remove the blanket if he seems too warm. 80 or 85 is the warmest I’ve taken him in, and I probably wouldn’t take him if it were any warmer and the sun was beating down for fear of overheating. (That may be dramatic, but as a first time mom I’m definitely overly cautious!)
Now for the big secret…
The key to taking a walk with your baby is to go right around the time he or she is due for a nap!
Babies love movement and sleep best when moving (think: rocking, swaying, bouncing) which is why most pregnant women don’t feel their babies kicking and moving throughout the day; instead, we feel them at night when we’ve slowed down a bit. The same goes once they’re here. That’s why there are so many bassinets, rockers, gliders, bouncers, rock n plays, etc. that MOVE in order to soothe babies! It makes sense!
Many people suggest following the eat – play – sleep order for babies. Whether you follow this or not (we follow no schedule here!), you want to time your walk with the sleeping portion. Sometimes that means we play a little, eat, play a little more, and then walk, while other times it means we play a lot, eat, and then we’re reading for our walk right away. It will vary with every baby, and even from day to day!
Once William wakes up from one of his morning naps, I unswaddle him and let him wiggle and kick around his crib for awhile. He’s always (usually) so happy when he wakes up, so itz fun to see him laugh and smile and move around.
Then, I decide whether itz time to play more or nurse. This depends on the last time William’s eaten and what he wants. Babies are in control! If itz been a couple hours, most likely he’s ready to eat again, so we eat.
After we eat, we play. And we play hard. I really let William wiggle and move to tire him out. Plus, if I expect him to sit in his car seat for a little while during our walk, I want to make sure I give him the opportunity to MOVE before and after.
So, we play on our activity mat.
We have tummy time which requires LOTS of energy and strength!
All that moving around after he’s eaten usually gets his insides moving… which means itz time for a diaper change! He does some more moving and grooving with his wrist rattles while I change his dirty diaper. (Even if itz just wet, I suggest putting him in a clean diaper before you walk. I wouldn’t want to sit in wetness – neither does he.)
Once you have that baby all ready, then itz time to get yourself ready. I usually put WIlliam back on his activity mat or in his bouncer seat to keep him entertained for a few minutes. I put on my walking clothes and get everything ready for our walk. (I put my water bottle, garage door opener, and phone in the stroller. I put a leash on Zoey. I make sure there is a diaper and wipes and plastic bag for Zoey in the stroller, just in case.) Once I’m completely ready, then itz time to put William in his car seat.
Alas, he’s starting to get tired! Once he starts to get tired, itz time to put him in. You don’t want to wait until he’s totally sleeping. If you do, you risk waking him up while you strap him in, and mommas know – itz never good to wake a sleeping baby!
And we begin our walk! Sometimes William falls asleep two seconds out the door. Other times, he’s awake, but drifts off shortly after we begin walking. When he’s awake, itz the perfect opportunity to talk about everything you see outdoors and the sounds. Sun shining, wind blowing, trees whistling, dogs barking, whatever it may be.
William does not typically sleep in his car seat. Walks are the one exception because of the movement. If he’s not sleeping at first or if he wakes up during the walk, he’s fine because of the calming effect the movement of the stroller has. Plus, all his needs are met. He’s already eaten, changed, and slept.
Itz definitely a trial and error game with finding what works best for you and discovering how to use the baby’s timing to your advantage. If you take away nothing else from this blog post, the best time to take a walk is when your baby is fed, changed, and ready for a nap. Then itz a happy walk for all!
Are you a walker? How’s the weather been where you live? Mommas, how do you prepare to take your baby/kids for a walk?