Just a few months ago, we welcomed the newest member of our family — a bouncing baby boy, Peter. We are overjoyed, of course, but we are also tired. Unfortunately, my toddler, Vera, doesn’t particularly care how tired we are, with her own boundless energy and lack of interest in laying on the couch all day.
So, we’ve been out and about earlier this time around, for our toddler’s sanity and I suppose ours, as well. Newborns are easy in one sense because they can be carted around without attempting to run away, but they also are needy creatures with piercing, unrelenting screams when said needs are not met. This plus a, um, feisty-but-fun toddler can present a challenge.
Still, it’s possible to have a successful outing with a little strategizing in advance. Here are a few tips and outing ideas.
Bring the right gear
For the baby: Some babies do well in a stroller — mine is not one of them. For us, babywearing is non-negotiable. There are so many options available for wraps and baby carriers. The plus of babywearing for outings is that it leaves my hands free for wrangling — or playing with — my toddler, but keeps the baby with me at all times. Plus, in a possibly loud, overstimulating environment, the wrap keeps the baby feeling calm and secure.
For the toddler: A basic umbrella stroller works the best for us in most environments. It’s small and compact, making it ideal for crowded environments. It’s also lightweight enough for when my kid inevitably wants to push it around by herself.
I try to give my toddler some freedom to roam when I can (if we’re in a quieter part of the zoo, for example) so that when I need her close, she’s more likely to comply. If your toddler is a wanderer, a backpack with a safety leash may be a good fit.
Pack light, if you can. We use a single diaper bag for both kids — and it’s actually just a regular backpack to stay hands-free. A few diapers, wipes, burp cloths, maybe a nursing cover or light blanket and plenty of food. I used to overpack, but for a simple outing, you don’t need that much stuff.
Assume everyone will need to eat
For the baby: Babies eat so frequently that it’s almost impossible to plan an outing around a feeding. So, either pack a bottle of pumped breastmilk or formula or have a plan for nursing — if you are not comfortable with breastfeeding in public, bring a cover or scout out any available nursing rooms.
For the toddler: Have several snack options available. I typically pack containers of blueberries and frozen peas, plus a dreaded pouch and maybe some organic crackers. (Bonus points if you can dig into some of those snacks yourself, especially my fellow nursing mamas.) Remember: a hangry toddler is no fun for anyone.
Be smart about dining out. Timing and location are both important here, but you can enjoy the local food scene! Evenings get dicey for many babies (and toddlers), so we tend to eat out closer to mid-afternoon/early evening. This prevents anyone from getting hangry, meaning we all get to enjoy ourselves a little more. It also means we can avoid being out for the baby’s witching hour in the evening. We also choose restaurants that are casual and on the louder side so that our kids’ noises (laughter or crying) are easily absorbed.
Carting a newborn and a toddler around town isn’t always easy — but it’s doable.