Your Preemie’s First Outing
Getting your little one home was a joyful time, even if it was a little challenging too. Now he's safe and growing, and you’re keeping a close eye on his development – as it’s important to pay special attention to milestones for the first two years of your preemie’s life. However, you’re not sure if you're ready to take him out to explore the big world just yet. Here’s what you need to consider before taking your preemie outside and how to make the expedition safe and comfortable for you both.
The first few weeks
For the very beginning of your preemie’s life, it’s best to keep him at home, in a calm, quiet environment. Your new baby’s immune system is still developing, and too many interactions with visiting friends and family may leave him vulnerable to infections. Limit outside trips to the doctor’s office, and don’t venture elsewhere until your pediatrician gives your preemie the green light.
The first few months
Once your new baby’s little immune system has grown strong enough and your doctor says it’s okay to bring him out, choose where you take him carefully. Avoid attending big parties or family gatherings with your preemie in tow for the first few months -- his loving, well-meaning friends and family may not realize all the special care he still requires. Big food stores and shopping malls can also cause potential overstimulation and overexposure to germs, even for babies born at full term.
Instead, think short and sweet: Consider taking your preemie out for a stroll around the block for his first adventure, then build from there. A stroller cover can provide extra protection from outside germs and strangers too tempted by his cuteness to avoid touching.
Germs: A word of caution
Even though your preemie is growing and making developmental strides, it’s still important to keep germ protection top of mind. Discourage people from oohing and aahing too closely, and ask them not to pick up your new baby or tickle his little belly. Simply explain you’re taking extra care to ensure your preemie stays well, and they’ll understand.
Also be sure to keep yourself clear of germs too -- after all, whatever you come into contact with, your preemie will too. Before you pick him up, wash or sanitize your hands, especially if you’ve just pressed an elevator button or paid for a cup of coffee. To be extra-careful, avoid friends or family who may have the sniffles, and try not to shake hands with new acquaintances if your preemie is along for the introduction.
Introducing your new baby to new people and places will be fun for your both -- just keep in mind the special care your little bundle of joy needs along the way. Your preemie will eventually catch up to his full-term peers -- most likely by the second year -- so you won’t always have to take extra precautions when it comes to caring for your little one. For now, enjoy this early time with your preemie, because he’s going to grow up faster than you can imagine!