Navigating the Holidays with a Newborn
As we head into the holiday season, we think of all the wonderful times we will have with family, the traditions we’ve always celebrated and the events that will keep us busy. For families with a newborn, the upcoming holidays may feel overwhelming and a little bit nerve-wracking. If this is you or someone you know, here are some tips to get you through and allow for enjoyment as well:
Say yes to help. You’ve probably already figured out that everything takes longer with a newborn. In our “do-it-myself” society, it can be hard to accept help when it is offered. This is one time that it is a good idea to say yes! Say yes to help with gift wrapping, laundry folding, house cleaning, cookie baking, baby holding, and anything else that is offered.
Say no to extra travel. Have you always traveled to be with family for the holidays? Now might be the time to evaluate your situation and make a new plan. Consider if it is realistic to hop on a plane or make a 6-hour car drive with your new baby. Would it make more sense to ask the baby’s grandparents to come to you this year? Would it be easier to stay at home on the major holiday and visit at a later date when traffic isn’t as crazy and there is less family around?
Feed the baby. This sounds like a no-brainer, but in the busyness of the holidays, it is easy to miss feeding cues, pop a pacifier in the baby’s mouth, or let the baby sleep longer than normal. For a newborn, this results in a baby who is overtired, over hungry, and for mom, can lead to latching issues and milk supply issues when you are breastfeeding. Take the time to sit down with your baby and feed them. If you are feeling overwhelmed yourself, feeding the baby provides a great opportunity to step away from the crowd and have some welcome quiet time.
Limit contact for your baby. When you are at your family Christmas gathering, everyone will want to hold the new baby, even your well-meaning aunt who has been coughing or the cousin who hasn’t stopped sneezing since they arrived! It is perfectly ok to kindly say, “no, she needs her mom right now” and if they are insistent, at least ask them to wash their hands. It is overwhelming to the baby’s system when they are passed around to many different family members and it is easy to miss feeding cues if your baby isn’t with you. To prevent a baby who is super fussy after a day with lots of people, keep her close to you. Wearing the baby in a wrap-style carrier is a great way to discourage lots of baby handling.
Keep it simple. You’ve already figured out that everything takes longer when you have a baby. Give yourself grace and extra time. Do you usually decorate your entire house for Christmas? Maybe this is the year to have one main room decorated instead. Have you always been the one to bring homemade goodies to your holiday gathering? It’s ok to make a smaller amount, ask others to donate, or buy store-bought treats this year. Everyone will want to see the baby more than they will worry about what they are eating or how nicely your home is decorated.
Let go of some traditions and make new ones. Are there traditions from your childhood that you can’t wait to carry on with your kids? Choose one or two and make them happen! There may be new traditions you’d like to start, such as purchasing an ornament for your baby every year or cutting down a Christmas tree as a family.
With some careful thought and planning, everlasting memories of the baby’s first Christmas will be made. Don’t forget to be present in the many happy moments you will experience with your baby and take a few pictures!
~Becky Franzen, MA, IBCLC provides pre-and-postnatal breastfeeding education, flange fitting, and consultations for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding at Statera Integrated Health and Wellness in Dubuque.