With family from near and afar wanting to grab the chance to meet your little one, it can feel like you’re being pulled in every direction. Your baby’s first Christmas doesn’t have to be a mix of special and stressful moments. Here are our tips on how new parents can help their baby’s first Christmas be joyful – and run smoothly:
Location: Celebrating the First Christmas might mean a lot of travel for you (think: breakfast at Mum and Dad’s, dinner with Nana and Grandad). But if it’s too much, say so. Better yet, you can invite everyone to stop by and see you at home. And make it a ‘bring-your-own’.
Naps: If your baby needs to sleep at 9am and 1pm, make sure you’re in a comfortable, quiet (enough) area where he can get rest. Nap times could be a chance to get some traveling done, or it may be the perfect time for a grown-up meal.
Feedings: If you tell Aunt Edna you’ll be at her house for 1 o’clock, but wee one nurses for a good hour, starting at midday, you’re bound to set yourself up for a disaster. Let everyone know you’re trying your best but need to work around your baby’s routine.
New traditions: It’s important for your new little family to start creating your own time together. Whether that’s decorating or having a bit of a new family Christmas breakfast, set time aside for these moments and let others work around them.
Bedtime: Veering off bedtime by an hour is not going to hurt your little one. If travelling, leave around her bedtime, so she can doze in the car. If staying put, try to plan Christmas dinner to be served after you put her to bed. And if leaving after supper, try putting baby to bed in her car seat. That way it will be an easy transition to the car and then home to her cot.
Setting expectations: For many families, Christmas celebrations revolve around traditions and embedded routines : “We have this meal at that time”, “Everyone gets up then”, “We all head out for a long cold walk after that”. Families with new babies often feel they need to continue these traditions. But now is the time to be confidently sharing your version of how your Christmas celebrations will be blended with the needs of your baby.
Sharing baby: Too many new faces can cause stress for young babies. Of course, you can let everyone have a cuddle but if she starts to seem frazzled, be her advocate. Let Dad or you take her away from the unfamiliar faces and soothe her.
Consider the opportunity to rest: Remember the advantage of family – free help. If staying a few days, try to run a baby-free errand or go out for an evening with your partner. You can even ask Mum if she’d like to do the morning shift, so you can have a lie-in.
Rejecting invitations: Yes, you’re a mum and dad now. You probably can’t go to every party and dinner you’re invited to. This won’t last forever. By the time Baby is 18 months, you will feel like a whole new person.
The question of gifts
The question will arise as Christmas approaches on what baby needs. You can strategically plan for relatives and friends to give learning toys, playmats and clothes for the next year. But this can also be a time to start some lovely traditions such as books, starting a commemorative collection or a giving a donation to a less fortunate child in their name.
Whatever you decide, make sure that your Christmas is the one you want and that works for your family. Remember your needs as a family, and organise your day well in advance to avoid any last minute panics. We hope you, and your gorgeous new family, have a very merry Christmas!