Holiday Gatherings With Your Newborn :: 6 Tips for Less Stress

Black woman holding and kissing a baby in front of a Christmas treeIntroducing the newest member of your family to the outside world was daunting before the pandemic. Now, at a time when gatherings require more prep than ever, many parents are wondering how to include their newborn in the festivities. As a postpartum doula, I get asked a lot of questions about how to navigate events with babies, and I can confidently give a few pieces of advice. As the weather turns colder and outdoor activities come to a close, it’s important that you decide how or if your family will attend upcoming seasonal events. If you are hosting for the holidays or taking your newborn baby to see family for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you’ll want to do a few things to make this holiday season smooth. 

Talk about your expectations.

Whether with your partner or other family members, it’s important to set clear boundaries from the beginning of the holiday season. Whether that means hosting events at your home or only attending certain events together, discuss what you’d like to see the holiday season look like for your family.

Be choosy about where you go.

Only go places where your wishes will be honored. Being in an environment where others don’t respect you will only add stress to the newness of holidays with an infant.

Stick to your schedule.

Usually, anything 15-30 minutes in either direction of a nap or feeding time is OK, but get past that and you’re likely headed for what I like to call “meltdown city.” You may get there anyway, but you’ll want to do as much as possible to leave your baby unprovoked.

Hold your baby as much or at little as you want.

Sometimes it can be a relief to hand the baby to a cousin or aunt, and sometimes it can be a stressor. If you know your baby will prefer you’re the one holding them, wear the baby in a Boba or Moby wrap! This allows family and friends to get a good peek at the baby without disrupting your close hold. And you have your hands free to hold your fork, cup, or keys (for a swift exit)!

Carve out your own space.

In any place that you plan to visit, know where you can get a breather with your baby. Whether you need to nurse, soothe, or rest, it’s important to know you have a place to do exactly that. While it can be really exciting to create memories, it’s equally important to honor your needs as a new mom. In some cases, that may mean leaving early — or not going at all. 

Recalibrate your expectations with your baby in mind.

Activities that were fun in other years may not be as fun with a baby. That’s the truth — and it’s OK! This year, try something new! You don’t have to sit out of the holiday activities because you have a baby, unless you want to! 

Dashanna Hanlon grew up living in Michigan and Virginia and feels like her smile gives her away as a Midwestern-Southerner, even after a decade in Massachusetts. After earning a degree in English and Gender Studies from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011, she got a job at a local medical journal as an editorial assistant. After 3 years she thought she was done with New England and had made up her mind to start some new adventure. Before she could make the move - like in some weird romantic comedy - she met her husband Tom a Boston electrician, at Ned Devine's in Fanueil Hall. They were married on Chatham Beach, a year and a half later. Traveling between the city and New Hampshire for work, they settled on living in Merrimack Valley. She tried out a few different career paths before having her first son and was introduced to birth work. She became a doula in 2018 and runs Caring for Mamas while staying home with her sons Lucas (2) and Isaiah (7 months)! Dashanna loves her family, her friends, fresh-squeezed lemonade, singing jazz music, eating macarons made by her husband, going to New England beaches, and any good story. She could live without traffic, any technological problem, and rice cakes.

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