Can preemie / NICU / newborns babies go outdoors / have visitors over?

Can preemie / NICU / newborns babies go outdoors / have visitors over?

Writing this post for all parents of preemie babies but it can be relevant to newborn parents as well -- Especially for those who are feeling the sadness / frustration of trying to balance safety + also relive their pre-baby lives. 

Our baby was born at 3 pounds, 10 ounces, and it was both a miracle and gift, yet also a journey that felt SO different from practically EVERY other full-term parent out there... 

I was SO sad / frustrated when I saw other moms on social media doing all sorts of fun outdoor activities with their babies, and there I was inside with my husband, arguing about wanting to go outdoors but yet, she was only 4.5 pounds around the time we took her home and I started getting the explore itch so there weren't a lot of carrier options for her.


And, when I tried to jerryrigging a solution to take her outside (eg- slings and other alleged preemie carrying devices), it was moot as her head would flop around since preemie babies usually don't have head control until they gain a bit of weight.

My husband was like "absolutely not" (he was also previously a diehard outdoor person so that was shocking to me). And I argued nonstop but he had a point-- It was a pain in the a* to take her out. Our doctor even said it was fine / good to take her out. So I got more depressed...

She was small, I was a total newb at all things babies so I definitely wanted my husband's support and help getting out our tiny little bean. And, frankly exhausted. I yearned to do SOMETHING. Like all the cornball social media posts flaunting the awesome baby adventures. 

REALITY CHECK: Don't believe those social media photos of brilliant times. That could have been a ONE TIME outing.

Few people show the melt downs when you do bring out the baby.. Or, the headache getting a preemie in and out, or the anxiety inside their head about getting the baby a cold...

YOU do things at your own pace.
You go out when you want to. If your spouse pushes back, figure out ways to compromise. #1 don't have any expectations. Then, you'll feel a lot more peace. (Easier said than done.) 

The only thing she could sit in was a car seat (preemies hate that or maybe that was my experience) or bassinet in a swaddle...

It's been 3 months now since she was born, and I can happily say she is on the up and up, literally for weight gain but here are some lessons I learned about going out as a preemie parent. My husband is also letting us go out more and encouraging it... (He had some valid points that he didn't want her getting a cold / sick as then there would go the hard-earned weight gain.. especially at such a small weight. And to each their own..) 

10 Ideas for newborn / preemie parents who want to take their baby outside:

  1. Don't stress about doing ANYTHING - Just do your best to take care of the baby to the best of your ability. (After having a NICU baby, one may find themselves finding religion - As I'd say these days - "I suppose I just pray and leave it to God!" - Not that we'd do something stupid, but at a certain point, one has to just live their life!)
  2. Confirm with your medical provider if it's a "good idea" - In fact, ask 3 different opinions (we asked every nurse / doctor, I wouldn't necessarily schedule a bunch of meetings just for this question but as you come in contact with different professionals. Every doctor / midwife has different things to say on the subject. My favorite are the ones who have actually had kids and are more "chill". But, that's just me. 
  3. Put baby in stroller bassinet - It will be a bounce ride for them as they roll around, but better than nothing
  4. Wait until they hit the 7 pound mark / whenever their head has more head control - You'll notice it's SO much easier when you can put them in a legit, supportive carrier. Some babies like slings, ours was like a noodle in them so that was a bit stressful for me. 
  5. Do small little 15 minute exits out the door at first, then build up to 30 minutes, etc.
  6. Bundle them up! We had a winter baby, so that made it even trickier. The rule of thumb is 1 additional layer compared to whatever you're wearing. 
  7. Trick: Put them in an ADDITIONAL larger onesie. Then you can use that onesie at a later date too !
  8. Have a pacifier / milk / formula on hand in your diaper backpack. That will silence'em-- Unless they're freezing, bring blankets too. 
  9. Don't look at all those mom photos with "normal" babies!! Or, moms who feel like they're just so perfect and make you feel crappy. Unfollow them until you feel like. If ever. 
  10. Get some personal R&R / outside time - if you have a partner, take turns / see if a relative will step in
  11. Don't fret if your partner wants no visitors over. I still get sad about this. But, tell them, hey ok, we can do that but I need to get some social time then while you watch the baby. aka: negotiate... 
  12. Forgive and forget everything that happened the day before if it wasn't what you wanted - This goes for baby, spouse, everyone. Easy to say but we had a saying between my husband and I "Sorry for everything I said / did yesterday." That doesn't ALWAYS solve the problem, but at least you acknowledge you were tired / they were tired and likely a jerk. 
  13. Your gut instincts are right. Don't listen to naysayers. This here probably is what made me seem psychotic to my husband, but hey LOL I'm putting it here. Unless you're actually a bit crazy, then maybe get a second opinion or 3. I had to do that when I was delirious from lack of sleep
  14. Go to places where there are fewer people - eg - buy a plant from an outdoor nursery - Do a walk in the park, shop when it's low traffic times...
  15. Talk to other parents going through what you're going through!!


Hope this helps and wishing you and your baby the best and future BIG safe and exciting adventures!!!



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