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Surviving Baby’s First Holiday

Tips to Keep the Whole Family Healthy and Happy
By Kristen Smith, MD

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be stressful. Endless to-do lists and countless celebrations can quickly fill your schedule. Whether you are hosting get-togethers or traveling for the holidays, Pediatrician, Dr. Kristen Smith, shares tips and tricks to help you navigate this busy time of year with the whole family in tow.

Home for the Holidays
Even when you stay in town for the holidays, your family’s routines can be disrupted. Set your family up for success by preparing for common scenarios.

Maintain Routines
Babies thrive with routine. While it may be difficult to keep your usual schedule throughout the season, taking time to think through modifications beforehand can provide peace of mind. Identify your non-negotiable activities such as naptime, as well as other areas where you are able to be more flexible. Consider things from feeding adjustments to different down-time activities so as plans change, you will be armed with alternative solutions.

Stick to Sleep Schedules
Well-rested babies are happy babies. Small steps can go a long way in preparing your baby for restful sleep during this busy time of year. On days that take you and your baby out and about, aim to schedule travel around their routine. If you are hosting out-of-town guests, build in time to transition from interacting with family and friends to mentally prepare for sleep.

Keeping Baby Healthy While Meeting the Whole Family
Oftentimes, if you are hosting for the holidays, family members and friends come in from out-of-town. Setting boundaries with guests beforehand doesn’t have to be uncomfortable and can help manage everyone’s expectations.

Talk to Guests about Vaccinations
Germs are rampant this time of year. Protect yourself and your baby against influenza by ensuring that guests staying in your home have received the flu vaccine.

The Center for Disease control (CDC) recommends that all people receive the whooping cough vaccination. There are two vaccinations available: DTaP for young children and Tdap for preteens, pregnant women and adults.

Ask friends and family to wash their hands before they hold your baby. Handwashing is one of the best ways to safeguard against the spread of germs and illness.

Care for Your Mental Health
You are best able to care for your family when you are taken care of. The first holiday season with your new baby can be a much different experience than holidays past.

Talk to Your Partner
Work with your partner to determine your shared comfort level with your baby’s time spent with loved ones. Will you let everyone hold the baby? Are members of your family able to feed him/her? How will you communicate your parenting style to loved ones? Consider what is important to you and how you will handle differences in opinion.

Ask for Help
Although you can do it all, it doesn’t mean you have to. Ask guests to help out by running errands, cooking a meal or tidying up at the end of the day.

The Road Leading Home
Whether you’re flying high or taking a family road trip, travelling during the holiday season with your new baby can add an additional layer of excitement.

Oh, Baby Moment: Fussy Baby
Pro Tip: Bring a bit of home with you. Familiar items such as blankets and stuffed animals can help soothe your baby as you encounter the inevitable bumps in the road. If your baby uses a pacifier, be sure to have extra on hand to replace the ones tossed down the aisle or lost under the seat. If your holiday plans involve traveling by plane, feeding your baby on the ascent and descent will prevent pain from the change in pressure. 

Oh, Baby Moment: Stir Crazy Baby
Pro Tip: As cute as they can be, a bored baby can test your patience. Come to the rescue with unexpected ways to keep your baby busy. In addition to their favorite books and toys, get creative with interactive activities. These games are not only fun, they support fine motor development.

Ice Cube Tray Sorting Station
From sorting to practicing counting, ice cube tray activities can grow with your baby. Depending on your baby’s age, you can bring an assortment of items. For younger babies, larger items of varying colors can be sorted into each tray. For slightly older babies, medium-sized pompoms can be sorted to further develop their pincer grasp.

Hair Roller Game
Providing your baby with hair rollers in an assortment of colors and sizes is a fun way for them to play as well as foster the development small motor skills. Your baby can spend time sorting, stacking and sticking the rollers.

Oh, Baby Moment: Hungry Baby
Pro Tip: A full baby is a content baby. Be sure to have an assortment of snacks for your baby to eat during the trip, making sure to bring more snacks than you think you will need. Ask family or friends to pick up your baby’s staple items to have available when you arrive. Keep in mind that although the holiday season is often filled with celebrations and lots of food, traveling is not the ideal time to introduce new foods to your baby.

Oh, Baby Moment: Tired Baby
Pro-Tip: Aim to recreate your baby’s sleeping space at home. If your baby sleeps in their own bedroom, transitioning to room-sharing may be difficult. Bringing familiar items from home that your baby associates with when preparing for bedtime can support a smoother transition.

Prepare for the unexpected, embrace the hustle and bustle and enjoy your first holiday season with your baby. For more tips on keeping your family healthy or to schedule a visit with a pediatrician, please call 1.888.MY.DMG.DR (1.888.693.6437) or schedule an appointment online.

Topics and Subtopics: Children's Health

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