We know that getting out and about with your little ones can seem daunting at times. From first trips with your newborn to juggling multiple toddlers, there’s lots to think about. And who better to help you with some advice on making fresh air fun and changing bag essentials than parents who have been there themselves! That’s why we asked mums and dads for their top tips on all things out and about. They’ve shared their experiences and words of wisdom so you can make the most of the sunshine (or more likely warm, cloudy days) with your family.
how to get out and about
You know the end goal – sun cream on, hats at the ready and sandaled feet out the door. Accomplishing it can be another thing altogether! One mum’s top tip for getting out with her daughter is about sharing the load: “Tag team with your hubby/partner (you get ready and pack the bags whilst he feeds baby; then he gets ready whilst you dress the baby). If you don’t have someone to share the tasks with, get up before the baby to get it all done!”
If multitasking in the morning isn’t your cup of tea (especially not before your first cup of coffee), planning ahead is the way to go. Take it from one dad who is still learning his wife’s ways for getting his little boy out and about. He suggests that you “Prepare to leave the house way before you plan on leaving the house. I just don’t, even after almost two and a half years, have the organisational skills to get Isaac prepared to leave the house in five minutes flat like my wife can. Plus, I would inevitably forget something even if I did try – changing bag, snacks etc.”
must-have items for outdoor adventures
Speaking of forgetting, we all have a few things we shouldn’t leave without. Phone, keys and purse are all essential. Your handbag or satchel can quickly turn into a small suitcase though when you’re taking the kids out and about too. So, before you leg it and lock up the house, here’s what our parents said you should always have on-hand.
“Nappies, wipes, toys, SNACKS (x 10!) and an SOS outfit change.”
“Baby wipes, snacks and more nappies than you think! Plus whatever distraction is working that day (toy, puzzle, ball etc). We also have a playlist of music at the ready that James likes and we can enjoy too.”
“Food – without a doubt. Just as many snacks as you and the changing bag can possibly carry. And Bear Bear. God forbid we went somewhere without Bear Bear!”
And as a couple of mums on our Mothercare UK Facebook page suggested, make sure you remember things for you! From water (and other sustaining liquids) to spare tops (because baby’s love to spread the mess), parents also need supplies! While you may feel like your baby’s personal feeding and cleaning machine, don’t forget your needs too. You’ll have more energy to chase your little one around the garden if you’re fed and watered yourself!
breastfeeding in public
For many mums, breastfeeding when out and about can be daunting. Some choose to use muslins which are “perfect for discreetly feeding and also perfect for a light alternative to a blanket” until they feel more confident feeding in public. One dad shared how uncomfortable his wife felt without using some kind of cover, so whether you’re breastfeeding yourself or supporting someone who is, here’s what experience has taught him and his wife.
“We found that the best way to proceed is to accept it's 100% normal and natural, so just find places where it's accepted and not questioned (mothercare, m&s, just baby friendly locations) and slowly build confidence. After a while it becomes much easier. As a dad, the best thing I could do was make sure she was comfy (emotionally and physically). Ultimately guys don't have the tools for the job, the best thing we can do is to support the leading cast.”
A lot of mums also had some helpful wardrobe recommendations. Simply put: “Wear easily accessible clothes if breastfeeding.” And don’t forget that “Having a good nursing top (and a spare one in your bag for any leaks or accidents) is essential for feeding on the go.” Parents chatting on our 2am Club definitely agreed and endorsed OUOD (one up one down) tops as a way of drawing less attention than using a cover.
Last but not least are these encouraging words from one mum inspiring confidence in others. “When breastfeeding, don’t be coy, be proud! You’ll be surprised at how much support and encouragement is out there for BF Mums!”
making the fresh air fun
While some children need no encouragement to enjoy the sunshine, others need a little nudge to get out and about. Catering to two young boys, one mum suggested you “Find a place where they can run free. It’s always more fun with friends and then you have adults to chat to too. And take a ball with you for a kick about.”
A couple of dads obviously won the lottery because getting their kids out isn’t actually difficult. Lucky them! One is father to two babies (a son and a dog) and how does he make fresh air fun? “Just say “walkies!” No, wait, that’s for Oscar… Isaac is actually pretty easy, as long as he knows he’s going out in advance.” Did someone say plan ahead?
Perhaps the simplest advice we received is just to “Let them see something they haven't seen before. Things we've all seen 1000s of times are totally new and amazing to them. Even a duck pond! Mix it up and they'll be fascinated.” That includes the times when the sun doesn’t shine. Who doesn’t love splashing in puddles when droplets start falling or making a snowman when blue skies suddenly turn white! Whatever the weather, the outdoors awaits.
So, what are you waiting for? While we all love a lazy day on the sofa, getting out and about can be just as fun. Even more so if buckets and spades are involved! No matter where you are in your family’s journey, from pregnancy to parenthood, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. Coffee shops, beaches and parks all await. Just remember to plan ahead, grab the essentials (for you and baby!), and enjoy a breath of fresh air. Here’s hoping for some sun!