In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics, including some of the oldest -- and most cherished -- medical myths out there. In our March-April 2011 issue, we asked Anne Hansen, MD, MPH, medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital Boston, whether or not newborns can go outside.
Q: I've heard that I can't take my newborn outside for a month. Is this true?
The idea that babies have to stay inside the house for several weeks after they're born is FALSE. In fact, as long as your baby is healthy, getting some fresh air can be great for mom and baby if you take a few precautions.
First, be careful not to overdress or underdress your baby when you leave the house. Your best bet is to put as many layers on them as you're wearing yourself, and keep a blanket handy.
Second, be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight. "Newborns' delicate skin burns easily, and that kind of early skin damage can increase their lifelong risk of skin cancer," says Hansen says. "Keep them fully shaded with clothing or an umbrella."
And third, while there's no preventing your baby from getting sick, try to stay away from places where you know there are people who are ill.
What's most important, however, is for baby to have a happy, healthy, and well-rested mom, Hansen says. "And natural light, exercise, and fresh air can help."