For any new mum, bringing your baby out can be a pretty daunting task, especially if you’re making the trip alone. More so if you need to take public transport totting your little one and a hefty diaper bag, and maybe even the pram!
To begin with, there’s the unpredictable weather. In sunny Singapore, it’s hot and humid most days, and then when you least expect it, a torrential rain comes down and ruins your plans for going out (or getting back home). Taxi queues can be long and frustrating, not to mention expensive during peak hours.
Then there are all those unwanted comments and looks from total strangers. Like that uncle on the MRT who insists that your sling is no good for baby’s neck. Or the mother of four perfectly-mannered kids who looks disparagingly at you while you try to calm your fussing one.
You look at other mums with their babies and wonder how on earth they manage to still look put together, calm and composed, to change diapers with their eyes closed, and to never look as disorganized and frantic as you feel.
It’s a wonder that any new mums venture out of the home at all! But kudos to those who take that risk and give it a try! Trust us, the effort will be worth it. It just takes some getting used to and a bit of preparation before you leave the house. Here are some tips to get you going, quite literally!
When traveling about…
#1 Don’t pack at the last minute
You’re bound to leave something out if you resort to last minute packing of your diaper bag. Having an earlier preparation would give you some buffer time to remember items you should bring along for the trip. And you don’t want to start your journey all harassed and hectic anyway. Try to make a checklist of items you think are necessary for the trip, at least for the first few times you venture out. After a while you’ll know the list like the back of your hand!
#2 Always bring extras
Extra diaper for the baby, extra change of clothes for the baby (and yourself, if your little one has a habit of pooing, peeing or burping onto you), extra cash, etc.
#3 Be prepared for the crowds
Don’t over-pack either – you don’t want to be lugging an overflowing diaper bag and your child while jostling with the crowds for a seat.
#4 Make a back-up plan
Although most malls, hospitals and other public venues would have a functional baby care room these days, there’s no predicting when baby will choose to pee, poo or get suddenly hungry, and sometimes the room may be occupied or under renovation when you need it the most! Have a back-up plan in the event of such potential emergencies. For example, bring along a nursing shawl in case you have to breastfeed in public. And a diaper changing mat can come in handy should you need to clean baby up on a bench.
#5 Avoid bringing out the pram
For young babies, bringing them out in a pram on public transport can be a real hassle, because you’ll need to stow away the pram when you board a bus, then open it up again when you reach your destination. To avoid the extra hassle, invest in and get used to carrying baby about in a sling or baby carrier.
When dining out…
#6 Sling is best
Using a sling allows you to have your hands free to eat and drink your fill while ensuring baby is safe and happy. Other baby carriers like the Ergo and Bjorn can work too, but would be a tad less comfy for you when seated. For one, you might have some difficulty seeing your food…
Of course, another good option for placing baby while you eat is the pram. But this is troublesome to bring out for reasons stated above.
#7 Avoid soupy stuff
It’s difficult to eat anything soupy when you are worrying about dripping hot liquid onto your little one. For a start, stick to rice, bread or salads, which are a lot easier to transfer from plate/bowl to mouth. You might also want to avoid ordering anything that is going to take a long time to prepare – unless you are sure baby is going to be sound asleep for a while yet.
#8 Choose your eating companions wisely
Ideally, at least one of your dining party should be comfortable with carrying a baby, should you need the extra pair of hands while you remove the sling or take a quick toilet break.
#9 Know your baby’s limits and yours
Realistically speaking, most babies will begin to be restless after more than an hour or two in the sling or carrier and want to be taken out or need their diaper changed or be fed. So don’t plan a 3-hour shopping spree and expect it to go smoothly! Keep most trips to a maximum of 2 hours so that both baby and you are not over-tired or cranky at the end of it.
Before having a baby, I would sometimes spend hours browsing in a store before actually buying something, or sometimes not buying anything at all. But if you have a mission in mind, eg. a birthday present for a friend, plan your shopping route and keep an eye on the clock, so that the trip is a fruitful one!
#10 Know your size
Trying on clothes with a baby attached to you is often impossible, especially if you are alone. And it is definitely not advisable to lay your baby on the floor or (worse still!) hang your sling or carrier on the door hook! Tempting option, but no. So it helps to know your general size, which you can easily do at home by checking what fits at the moment and what doesn’t, so you can skip the use of the fitting room and make full use of in-store mirrors instead.
#11 Ask a friend along
As with dining out, it’s best not to shop alone, and to find a shopping buddy who can help you carry baby, if you really need to try something on for size.
Try out these tips for yourself, and before you know it, you’ll be bringing baby on board with you everywhere, and become an inspiration to the next newest mum you meet!
By Dorothea Chow