The holiday season with your newborn in tow is so exciting, but it can also be challenging to keep your little one happy and maintain their newborn routine.
This year, your newborn baby will be the priority and number one concern as you embark on a busy holiday event schedule. So keep things simple, be flexible, watch baby’s cues and enjoy this special time of the year.
To help your holiday experience stay peaceful—yes to silent nights!—here are a few tips to navigate this busy time with your newborn.
Related: 13 important rules for visiting a newborn during the holidays this year
6 tips on prioritizing your newborn’s routine during the holidays
1. Set clear boundaries and plan ahead
There’s always so much going on during the holiday season, and having a basic game plan and a little help will alleviate any extra stress.
It’s super important that you and your partner are on the same page, so set time aside to develop a list of priorities and boundaries that work for each of you. Also, ask your partner to help you as much as possible; parenting should always be a team effort.
Once you have discussed how many gatherings you want to attend, or if you are ready for any just yet, let your family and friends know. Also, be clear on how many people you are comfortable being around at any given time—especially because this holiday season, we are seeing an increase in illnesses like the flu, RSV and strep. If you need additional advice, discuss these questions with your pediatrician.
Related: I’ll be an ‘over-protective’ mama this RSV—and I’m not sorry for it
2. Stick to feeding frequency
Gentle and consistent daily sleep and feeding routines help keep baby stress-free and more likely to feed well. Where possible, let your baby’s sleep and hunger cues shape your routine rather than the clock. Things may run more smoothly this way.
Maintain an “eat-sleep-play” routine around baby’s cues. This helps guide feeding and sleep times and lets everyone know when it’s OK to have some playtime with the baby.
Related: It’s OK to prioritize your baby’s nap schedule
If the hectic holiday environment is upsetting your baby’s feeding, move into a quiet, dark room away from everyone. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, allow nurturing skin-to-skin contact for your newborn during the feed.
If breastfeeding, it helps to be mindful of what you eat and drink during the celebrations. Some elements in beverages and food, such as caffeine and alcohol, or allergenic foods such as dairy and eggs and shellfish, can pass through into breast milk and cause baby to be fussy, colicky, irritable and have difficulty sleeping. Aim to fill your plate with foods you know your infant can tolerate as much as possible. If you have any concerns, contact your pediatrician or lactation consultant.
If you are formula feeding and noticing your baby is having gas, colic and/or not sleeping well, you might consider Bubs Goat Milk Infant Formula or Bubs Supreme A2 Beta Casein Protein Infant Formula. The A2 casein protein in these formulas can be easier to digest—which means a happier holiday season for the entire family.
Related: How to choose an organic baby formula
3. Find a restful place to feed and pump
The holidays can be a blast, but over-stimulation from constant noise, lights and being passed around can be too much for your newborn.
While family and baby are settling into their new routine, remember to take some time to relax from the hustle and bustle of holiday activities. Plan ahead to ensure you have a calm and peaceful place to feed and pump before the busy days arrive, whether you are visiting or at home.
Related: How to say no and set boundaries this holiday season and beyond
4. Over-pack for feeding baby while traveling
When packing for plane travel with your newborn, ensure enough clean bottles, infant formula or breast milk are in your carry-on luggage and allow extra in case of delays. Always be mindful of TSA regulations—you are permitted to bring any amount of breast milk in carry-on baggage and frozen ice packs.
Related: Flying with breast milk may be easier than you think
Some TSA agents are strict on water, so be prepared to purchase water once you are through security.
To heat bottles of infant formula or breast milk, ask your flight attendant for a half-cup of hot water, then place your bottle or pouch into the cup to thaw or warm (ensure to keep it away from baby). Double-check the temperature before giving the milk to your baby to ensure it is not too hot.
If you are traveling by car, allow enough time for feeding stops.
It’s best to avoid feeding your newborn in a car seat or moving car because it can be a potential choking hazard. Instead, stop every few hours for a stretch and feeding break.
Related: 10 breast milk cooler bags that’ll keep your breast milk fresh and cold for hours
5. Adjust baby’s sleep schedule without too much disruption
Try to keep your newborn’s nap and sleep schedule as consistent as possible. A little flexibility is often needed during the holidays, but the more routine your baby has, the easier it will be when you need to make adjustments. Some parents find their baby can sleep through a bit of commotion if they are in a sling, wrap or structured carrier.
Related: A sleep scientist shares her best tips for traveling with babies and kids
6. Enjoy this precious time while embracing unexpected events
The holidays may be different this year, but keep in mind that all that revelry is a time to share, celebrate and have fun. Keep things simple, set healthy boundaries and take good care of yourself and your baby. Remember, this is the first holiday season with your newborn, and you are creating new and treasured memories.
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