When my first baby came along, one of the most important things to me was getting out of the house. This new tiny baby turned my whole life upside down. But getting out; walking, seeing other adult humans and entertaining us both was my lifeline in those first months. It made me feel like I had a bit of routine and normality again.
Those first months pass so quickly, in a sleep deprived haze. Babies change from wrinkly little bundles of snuggle into bouncy, noisy balls of energy in such a short time. Suddenly they’re climbing on the chairs trying to nick the lunch right off your plate, screeching at you until you work out it’s the tomato from your side salad that they want!
So for any first time parents out there, here is a little list of my favourite things to do with a new baby. Things I wish I’d done more of when it was easy to!
Go to the cinema
You don’t need to find babysitters and pump milk and make loads of arrangements so you can go to the cinema. Just take your baby with you.
Most major cinema chains now have at least one Baby Cinema showing a week you can take babies under 1 along to. Unfortunately policy in the big cinema chains dictates that babies aren’t allowed to go and see anything with a rating over a 12A (no, I’m not kidding). But you can still see some excellent movies without worrying about anyone getting annoyed if your baby has a wee cry or you need to leave 5 times during the movie to change nappies. Check any local independent cinemas too. Our little local one at the Grosvenor on Ashton Lane has weekly baby cinema showings and babies can go “see” movies of any rating in there.
Even if you can’t make baby cinema viewings you can still go along to the regular cinema. Obviously if baby isn’t happy it’d be pretty rude not to leave, but you’ll probably know yourself whether your baby will be happy in the cinema or not. Within his first few months our little man had been to see numerous movies with his daddy and I. We went to showings that were less busy, popped him into a carrier/wrap where he slept through most of the movie and when he eventually woke up he had milk and a cuddle.
The only time him being in the cinema was ever an issue was when he did a massive poo at a really quiet point and I heard the woman behind me whisper-shout to her husband “Oh my god did you hear her farting?” talking about me. When the movie ended a few minutes later she realised that I had a baby in a carrier and that it in fact was not me who had the made the smell. Oops…
With my first baby I walked absolutely everywhere. I’d walk for miles every day, all over the city. It’s how I got back towards my pre-pregnancy shape so quickly.
It’s something I really missed doing during my second maternity leave; there’s only so far a 3 year old will willingly walk (or scoot), and they won’t go as fast as you can go on your own. So walking everywhere whenever I felt like it wasn’t an option with my baby boy. Which is partly why, 18 months in, I still feel like I look pregnant. (Well, that and far too much chocolate!)
I met some amazing and lovely people during my maternity leaves (you all know who you are). A few of them I’d met during pregnancy at the yoga or aquanatal classes I went to. But most of them I met afterwards at things like the free bookbug sessions in our local library, a breastfeeding support group, buggy fit, and at various other baby classes. Just being able to talk to or message people with babies the same age as mine helped me through so many tough days (and sometimes weeks) in that first year with a new baby.
I still regularly see and speak to a lot of the women I met during that time. They’re some of my closest friends. And our kids are all little besties too!
If you want to get out and meet other new parents, the best thing to do is just to go to classes or groups near you. Choose something (or some things) you’d like to do for yourself and/or with your baby. Go along a few times and I promise you will find other parents who will want to have a cuppa afterwards (most baby things involve having a cuppa afterwards), who will be trying to replicate that one good sleep their baby had a month ago, and who will want to chat to you about all the things you’re both worried about!
Get some exercise
There are so many exercise classes aimed at new mums and babies. In my local area there are a few different buggy fit style classes, FitDankBaby (my absolute favourite thing I ever did with my baby – it’s fantastic), baby & postnatal yoga classes, postnatal circuits and postnatal spin classes, amongst others. A lot of the focus is on healing and core work after the trauma that your body has been through, but the cardio bits were still tough to begin with!
I always felt so much better after doing any of them. Even when I was crazy tired, doing some exercise made me feel a little bit more human again. And a little bit more like me.
Sit down and talk
Sit in the coffee shop and eat cake. Go out for lunch. Meet up with people. Sit and chat with them as long as you want to. It won’t be long before your baby will be yelling at you for a bit of the cake, and will want to eat most of your lunch rather than eat their own. And very soon they will not want to sit still anywhere while you drink a hot drink, and will screech at you from whatever chair you try in vain to strap them into. So make the most of it when they are tiny and sleepy and immobile. It doesn’t last nearly as long as you think it will.
One quick tip: Babies under 1 get into most soft play areas free. Some even have good coffee & tea. Once your baby is on the move and doesn’t want to be strapped into a highchair in a cafe anymore, these soft plays are excellent places to let them have a play, and then for you to have a coffee, a seat and a chat!