e year, my firstborn arrived on December 17 — it’s a Christmas I’ll never forget. Not only did I have family coming from out of town, but I struggled with breastfeeding and with trying to make everything perfect at home. Thinking back, I was an exhausted wreck on Christmas. My tips here can help you to enjoy the Christmas season with a baby of any age. It’s a special time when there’s a baby in the house — aim to keep it that way.
Stay Mindful and Calm
This is the first and most important tip for holidays with a baby. It’s about YOU and your family. You are learning to experience a holiday together. Make it peaceful. Don’t fuss about dishes, cleaning and baking. Prioritize Baby’s needs and your own and take it easy. Really.
Keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple. Babies require very little. One or two age-appropriate new items is plenty, and when it’s time for opening presents, do it slowly, at Baby’s pace. The money you save on not over-spending on toys can go to essentials you’ll need as Baby gets bigger: clothes for as he grows, diapers, formula — essentials.
If your baby is reaching and crawling, beware of low-hanging lights and ornaments on your Christmas tree and other decor. Keep Baby in mind with all of your holiday decorating so that you trim it back; keep special breakable keepsakes in storage this year.
As COVID-19 cases rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends families celebrate by gathering with members of their own households rather than traveling to visit extended family members. Celebrating the holidays with a baby during a global pandemic is different, but embracing that difference can make it good.
It’s also important to keep your baby safe during his first year because although rare, children under age 1 appear to be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than older children, says the CDC. This is likely due to their immature immune systems and smaller airways, which make them more likely to develop breathing issues with respiratory virus infections.
If you or someone in your family has COVID-19 or are waiting for test results due to symptoms, wear a cloth face mask and have clean hands when caring for your newborn.
Keep Expectations in Check
Christmas, and the holiday season in general, is about memories. Learning to embrace them all, good or bad, will help you to enjoy this time. You’ll soon realize that as your child gets older there’ll be more than one holiday memory which is far from perfect.
Sickness, tantrums, arguments, chaos, and tears often feature into holiday occasions when there are older children around, and no one is immune. Over time you’ll look back on these memories and realize they are just part of life. Sometimes they even become an amusing family anecdote. If things get too crazy, don’t hesitate to whisk your baby away into a quieter part of the house and shut the door for just the two of you.
Take Pictures, Shoot Video
Opportunities for photos and film will present themselves when you least expect them, so be ready with your phone or video camera at-the-ready.
Read to Baby by the Tree
When Baby is content, take him near your tree and read to him. Let him look around and see the tree, feel the moment. This sensorial experience of closeness with you and the warmth of your tree will mesmerize him.
Put on Christmas music and gently sway with your little one and sing. He will love this and so will you!
TIPS IF BABY'S A NEWBORN
• New-Parent Videos from Nashville Parent’s most recent Virtual Baby Fair are available at Nashville Parent’s YouTube page and feature experts from Vanderbilt Health, Baby and Company and many more.
Nashville Parent's Baby Guide contains a section called “Baby World” which is filled with helpful resources and much more.
• Focus on Peace
You are the one with the baby — so when it comes to decorating, get-togethers, shopping, events and outings — you call the shots. Hang a simple wreath on your door and forgo the lights if that’s all you can manage. It’s OK this year. In general, if you feel you don’t want to do something, don’t. If you want family to come to you rather than you having to pack up and go to them, say so.
• Rules at the Ready
Limit relatives for safety sake and for those who do come, be ready with directives. Ask family and friends to call before arriving and to clarify that everyone is healthy. Insist that all healthy people who wish to hold your newborn wash their hands first.
• Feeding Your Infant
Newborns feed often during their first weeks of life, practically around the clock. Knowing this, give yourself grace to stay close to your infant and avoid holiday distractions at home.
• Keep Your Newborn Home
It’s best to avoid bringing your infant to any store or public gathering during the pandemic.
• Ask for Help If You Need It
Having a newborn is exhausting because of lack of sleep and the constant need to be “on call.” Make sure you stay in touch with family and friends who can support you. And if you need help, ask for it.
• Baby Guide
Nashville Parent’s Baby Guide is available online. The guide contains a section called “Baby World” which is filled with helpful resources. Access it at Nashvilleparent.com by scrolling down to link up with the Digital Edition.