Surviving the Holidays with a New Baby

Everyone loves the holidays, but with a new baby the expected visiting and travel can mean a lot of extra stress


 

Everyone loves the holidays, but with a new baby the expected visiting and travel can mean a lot of extra stress. There are things you can do to make it easier for all of you.  

  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but offering to be the “host family” for your relatives may actually make things easier. Your baby will be in a familiar environment, you won’t need to travel, and you can set the ground rules. Assign the rest of your family to bring food and other items so you aren’t over-worked – and consider hiring a cleaning service for a day to get your home ready.

  • Guard against holiday weaning. Many mothers who get busy at this time of year decide to have someone else give the baby a bottle so they can do some shopping or finish baking, but all too often that one bottle leads to two, then three and soon your milk supply has decreased and your baby is resisting the breast. Taking the time to breastfeed your baby will not only help keep him healthy but give you some relaxing moments as well.

  • If you must travel by car, try to plan the drive around your baby’s usual naptimes, and be sure he’s fed and dry before you start. If you must drive when he’s awake, have an adult ride in the back seat to provide entertainment and comfort, if possible. Give yourself extra time as you may need to make frequent stops.

  • If your baby takes a pacifier, giving him one in the car may help make the drive easier.

  • Consider travel by train if your baby hates the car – you can hold him in your arms and even walk up and down the aisles if he’s cranky.

  • If you are traveling by plane, you have the option of buying an extra seat and using a car seat if you think your baby will be more content that way. Alternatively, you might want to try to book the bulkhead seat at the front, which gives you more room to hold the baby on your lap (no seats ahead of you that might be reclined).

  • Airlines usually invite people with babies and small children to board first, but you might find it easier to board last. That way you spend less time stuck in your seat with a baby who’d rather be moving around and exploring.

  • You’ll usually be asked to hold your baby upright during take-off and landing, but breastfeeding during these times is important to help prevent ear pain. This is easier with an older baby who can latch on in any position. If you can’t breastfeed in the position the flight attendants want you to use, encourage your baby to suck on your finger to clear his ears.

  • Sleeping arrangements can be another challenge when traveling. It helps to know in advance what your options will be. If you are thinking of using a portable playpen for your baby to sleep in, for example, try it out at home a few times first. Consider bringing a T-shirt you have worn and not washed for your baby to lie on, so he’ll have your familiar smell. A fan turned away from where the baby is sleeping can help to mask new noises that might otherwise wake him up.

Probably the most important tip is to go easy on yourself. You have a new baby to take care of, and that’s big! Don’t feel pressured to make elaborate meals or decorate your house from top to bottom. Take time to relax and enjoy the magical moments of the holidays with your newest addition.

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