If you just had a baby, you may be feeling like this Valentine's Day is going to have to be a bust--aside from the chocolate, anyway. But since babies don't have opinions (Just wait until the toddler stage!), it's actually way easier to take them along and go out anyway.
When we had our first child, I was terrified to go out, but my husband was determined to not be those people who stay home forever after having a baby. (Or two. Or a three.) So when our oldest turned a week old, we took her to a brewery to celebrate. As we continued to go out with the baby, I learned to relax, and I learned the best places to take a baby on date night.
We learned that as long as they have a clean butt and a full tummy, babies do just fine on a night out, especially when they are prone to just dozing off anyway. It doesn’t always work out, so be prepared for that. But when it does, you get time together that’s kind of alone time, and you don’t have to pay $10 an hour for someone to sit in the other room while your baby sleeps.
Here are my favorite no-sitter date-night activities.
- Anything outdoors. Outdoor activities don’t have the expectation of quiet or decorum, so these are usually a safe bet. Many communities have festivals, concerts, and plays outdoors this time of year. You’ll of course want to know what the weather is going to do since babies are not all-weather friendly. Most venues will offer a VIP option for outdoor events, and this is usually a wise purchase, since you’ll have access to shade (if it’s hot) and bathrooms.
- The movies. Yep, we were “those people” at the late movie with a baby. We weren’t sleeping anyway, trust me. Once the lights went down, I threw baby girl on the boob and we were set for the whole movie, even the loud ones. But, we were always mentally prepared to jump ship if we had to.
- Outdoor dinner/dessert and a walk. I love getting dinner or dessert outdoors, and then going for a walk. Walking in the evenings has many health benefits, from regulating your circadian rhythms to having an impact on weight and blood sugar.
- Have friends over. I always had the easiest time relaxing when we could be at home. Having dinner with friends was always a fun way to be able to keep baby on schedule while still getting to see people. It’s also great bedtime practice if you have an only child and are adding to the family. When you have one child, it’s tempting to keep everything super quiet when they are sleeping. When there are people laughing and talking in the next room it will help them acclimate to there being noise while they sleep.
- Art shows/Museum night. This is a great way to get out and get some culture without having to worry about the library-like quiet of the museum during the day. Evening events usually involve drinks and socializing, so it’s noisy. I went with a carrier or sling worn over a carefully chosen outfit that would allow me to nurse and wear with ease. Maxi dresses are great for these events.
Whatever you decide to do, make an effort to continue enjoying some of the things you did before you had baby, even if it's a little scary. Once we had more than one child, we often did these types of things while getting a sitter for the older, talking, walking child, since my babies liked to nurse every two hours or so until they are about six months old.
One thing that does really help make these date nights work is being able to nurse in public. I always covered with my first, sometimes covered with my second, and rarely covered with my third baby. I was just more comfortable with it by then. But I loved the security of always having my cover or a blanket with me in case I wanted more privacy. Whatever you do, know that you have the right to breastfeed absolutely anywhere you have the legal right to be.
Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City.