Stepping Out: A New Mom’s Guide to Flying Solo with a Baby
Being a new mother has its challenges, but probably none are quite so daunting as the first time you take your baby to the store by yourself.
But eventually, it will happen. If you were lucky enough to have someone come out and help you during the transition from expectant parent to full-fledged parent-in-charge, eventually that mom, sister, dad, or friend will have to go home and resume their normal life. You can do everything to avoid it, but even if you order your groceries to be delivered, you will still have to make that occasional supply run. However, there’s a lot you can do to make the trip easier.
Ignore the New Parent Parking Spots
While it’s wonderful that some stores have a parking spot set aside for expectant mothers and new parents, you should drive right past that prime real estate. The better spot for you is by the cart corral. When you come back with your groceries, you won’t want to leave your baby alone to return the cart, and you won’t want to juggle an infant and your purchases. In the long run, it’s actually easier to park a little further away. Unless there’s a blizzard. But please put off shopping if you’re expecting a blizzard.
Use a Shopping Cart Hammock
While we’re talking carts, don’t put the baby seat on top. Even if it seems to click in, the seat can still fall off and take your baby with it. A specially designed shopping cart hammock is the ideal solution for keeping your newborn safe and comfortable while leaving room underneath for your groceries.
Pick the Right Time
Don’t take a hungry baby to the store. Have your diaper bag packed, and the moment you finish feeding and changing your infant, go shopping before you’re hit with the next feeding time. Whenever possible, keep the trip short. If you have a good support system, schedule the bigger shopping expeditions when you have some help.
Know Your Store
Is the bathroom usually clean? If Dad is doing the shopping, do they have a changing station in the men’s room? These are things you want to know before you shop. Maybe your old store is no longer ideal. If your choices are few, maybe request they install a changing station if they don’t have one. There’s no harm in asking.
Have the Essentials
Have the basics with you and leave any bulkier items you think you might need in the car. Items you should have with you while in the store include:
- A pacifier and a clip to keep the pacifier from falling to the floor;
- If you’re bottle-feeding, a bottle with formula in it ready to go;
- Burp cloths;
- A small blanket;
- A diaper;
- A small pack of wipes;
- A couple of plastic bags for dirty clothes and diapers, and a changing pad;
- A change of clothes. Nothing too elaborate here, a sleeper is fine;
- A small bottle of hand sanitizer;
- If there is something that distracts your baby, such as a small vibrating toy or one that plays music, by all means, bring it along and anchor it into the hammock.
Bring a Good Attitude
No matter how prepared you are, there will still be times when your baby will cry, and maybe even scream. Try to remember that it’s more important to be the mama your infant needs than to be embarrassed and worry about the people around you. Try to finish your shopping quickly and talk to your special girl or guy for moral support. If you can cut your shopping short without too much problem, do so. If not, comfort your infant as best you can, and the people around you will survive if they have to listen to a fussy baby for a few minutes.
Shop for frozen goods last so if your baby gets hysterically out of control, you can slip into the women’s restroom or your car for a quick feed and cuddle without everything melting while you’re gone. Make sure to stash your cart near the help desk, take your purse and all your personal items, and let the store clerk know you’ll be back.
In the end, what you need the most is your sense of humor. Most people are kind and understand the challenges of shopping with children. If someone does make a rude comment or gives you the stink eye, remain calm and committed to being the best mother you can be and try not to take them too seriously. They’ve probably never had to take a baby shopping or have forgotten what it’s like.
And buy yourself some flowers! You deserve it.