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How long should you not take a newborn out?

There are differing opinions on when it is safe to take a newborn baby out of the house and into public spaces. Some experts advise waiting until 2 months of age or when the child has had their two month immunizations, while others say it is okay after the first couple of weeks as long as you take precautions. This article will provide a quick overview of the factors to consider when deciding when it is best to keep a newborn at home versus venturing out with them.

Newborn Immune System

Babies are born with an immature immune system that takes time to develop. They receive some antibodies from their mother before birth that provide protection, but these begin to fade around 6 months of age. Until their immune system matures, newborns are more susceptible to infections. Taking a young baby into crowded public spaces increases their exposure to germs and potential illness.


One of the biggest concerns with taking newborns out is the risk of contracting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms in adults and older children. However, it can be severe and even life-threatening in infants. RSV is highly contagious and easily spread through coughing and sneezing. It is most prevalent during fall and winter months. Due to the dangers of RSV, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping infants home as much as possible for the first 2 months during RSV season.

Vaccine Schedule

Newborns and infants follow a recommended vaccine schedule to protect against various diseases. The first vaccines are not given until 2 months of age. Until babies have had these initial rounds of immunizations, they do not have full protection against contagious illnesses like whooping cough, polio, and hepatitis B when out in public.


Newborn babies sleep up to 17 hours a day. Until they reach about 2 months old, they are unlikely to stay awake for more than 1-2 hours at a time. Taking them out where there is a lot of stimulation can easily overwhelm them and disrupt their sleep cycles. Excess fatigue can make them fussy and unable to get the rest they need.


A newborn’s senses are still developing after birth. Being out and about where there are crowds, loud noises, bright lights, strange smells etc. can provide too much stimulation. Getting overstimulated can stress their still-maturing nervous systems and make it difficult for them to relax or sleep when needed. Keeping baby in a calm, quiet environment is usually recommended for at least the first month.

When Can Most Newborns Safely Go Out?

While there are benefits to keeping newborns at home as much as possible, most pediatricians agree that it is reasonably safe to take them out in public by 6-8 weeks of age. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

After 2 Month Checkup

By their 2 month well child checkup, babies have typically received their initial round of immunizations to build immunity against serious illnesses. While protection is not immediate, they have less vulnerability at this point. As long as baby is healthy with no signs of illness, a visit to the pediatrician gives the all clear to start getting out more.

Avoid Crowds

It is wise to still avoid large crowds and sick people until about 3-4 months. This greatly reduces chances of coming into contact with someone contagious. Places like malls, airports, and stadiums with lots of people in close proximity are not ideal. Small gatherings of family and friends who are healthy pose less risk.

Good Health

Wait to take baby out if they have any signs of illness like fever, cough, runny nose, vomiting, or diarrhea. Even minor illness can quickly escalate to something more serious in newborns. Both baby and mom should be feeling 100% before venturing out.

Proper Attire

Ensure baby is properly dressed for the weather if going outside. Their temperature regulation is not yet mature, so they may get too hot or cold easily. Keep them protected with shade, blankets, hats etc. as needed.

Avoid Peak Illness Season

It is smart to still minimize outings during peak cold and flu season, usually November through March. RSV, the flu, colds, and other illnesses spread rapidly in winter. Even if baby has been immunized, airborne germs provide unnecessary exposure.

Age Safety Level for Outings
0-4 weeks High risk, avoid non-essential outings
1-2 months Moderate risk, limit outings or keep brief
3-4 months Lower risk, use precautions
Over 4 months Safe for most outings

Precautions for Taking Newborns Out

If you choose to take your newborn baby out in public before 4 months of age, here are some important precautions to take:

Cover the Car Seat

Drape a thin blanket or nursing cover over the car seat carrier/handle when in public spaces. This creates a barrier against germs from people getting too close.

Breastfeed Discretely

Find a private place to breastfeed rather than openly in crowds where risk of illness exposure is higher. Pumping breastmilk to take in a bottle ensures this option.

No Touching

Politely ask that strangers not touch or get too close to your baby. Their hands may carry infections that can easily spread. Avoid hand shaking as well.

Use a Sling

Wearing your newborn in a baby wrap or sling keeps them close while out and about. It discourages contact from strangers in public.

Wash Hands and Diaper Bag

Be diligent about washing hands and sterilizing the diaper bag after returning home from an outing. Germs can linger in fabrics and on surfaces.

Avoid Public Restrooms

Public restrooms contain a plethora of bathroom germs. Arrange outings to allow using restrooms at home or private facilities.

Visitors at Home

Having visitors at home allows social interaction for newborns with less illness exposure risk. Here are some tips for receiving guests:

Limit Visitors

Allow only small groups of healthy family or close friends to visit at first. This reduces overall germ exposure that comes with more visitors.

Set House Rules

Require hand washing upon entry and no kissing baby. No one with any signs of sickness should visit. Establish any other rules that will keep baby’s environment clean.

Cuddle Time

Allow only parents and designated caregivers to hold baby. Passing them around to visitors can spread germs. Keep cuddle time contained.

Visit Short

Even close family should limit visits to less than 2 hours. This gives baby adequate rest time between. Long or frequent visits become overstimulating.

Outside Only

When possible, have visitors interact with baby outdoors such as in the backyard or deck rather than bringing them indoors. Outdoor air circulation reduces germ transmission.

Visitor Health Status Allow Inside Home?
Healthy Yes, with precautions
Sick No
Immunocompromised Outdoors only
Unvaccinated No

Out and About with Baby Gear

These tips help keep baby’s gear clean and safe when venturing out:

Car Seat Covers

Use car seat covers in Lyft/Uber vehicles and shopping carts to prevent contact with germy surfaces.

Stroller Wipe Down

Wipe down stroller, car seat handle, and other frequently touched surfaces with sanitizing wipes after being out.

Clean Bottles

Ensure bottles, pacifiers, and teethers do not come into contact with any outside surfaces or hands. Use sterilizing bags.

Blanket Barrier

In waiting rooms, restaurants etc., keep baby covered with blanket and in the stroller or carrier rather than public chairs and furniture.

Hand Hygiene

Wash hands thoroughly after handling any dirty items like railings, doors, diaper bags etc. Use hand sanitizer frequently when out.

Final Tips

Here are a few final tips for minimizing newborn illness risk in public:

– Go out during less crowded times of the day like weekday mornings.

– Avoid congested indoor spaces like malls, movie theaters. Choose outdoor options.

– Be selective about who touches and holds your baby. Don’t pass them around.

– Breastfeed on demand to promote immunity-boosting antibodies through breastmilk.

– Keep stroller in the living spaces you use at home rather than closet to avoid harboring germs.

– Stay home if you or baby feels under the weather or seems extra tired.


While newborns are definitely vulnerable, their risk of illness can be managed with some basic precautions and good judgment about outings. After 2 months of age, most healthy babies tolerate limited public exposure on a case-by-case basis. But waiting until at least 3-4 months to take them out routinely is safest when illness is prevalent. With some extra vigilance and care, parents can socialize their new addition while also being mindful of germs and overstimulation. As baby reaches each new milestone, their abilities and immunity build, allowing for more interaction with the outside world.