Keep Peace on Earth During Baby’s First Holiday

You’ve already gotten the best gift ever, and while you learned long ago how nice it is to share, especially your favorite stuff, we’re gonna give you a pass on sharing your new bundle of joy.

The holidays are a time to come together with family and friends from near and far. To eat, drink, and be merry. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all. … And all anyone will want to do is get their hands on that baby.

Record scratch.

While the season is filled with sweetness and laughter, it’s also filled with germs, stress, and exhaustion. And while it isn’t our intention that you should be all stingy with your precious one, we have some tips and tricks that could make baby’s first holiday a wonderland of win-wins.

First and foremost, plan. Which invitations will you accept? Which will you decline? (And be confident about those regrets … because if you cave at the slightest hint of hurt feelings, YOU may be the one regretting.) What time will you arrive? What time will you leave? Make that clear to your host — especially if it’s your mom. How will that window incorporate feeding time, nap time, and what you will pack? If you are planning on hosting … , um, don’t. But if you must, we recommend something abbreviated like “Please join us for dessert from 6 to 8 p.m.” And if there was ever a time to shop online, this is it. Choose technology over a trip to the mall every time. And speaking of trips: If you’re traveling by plane over the holidays with your wee one, check out our tips for flying with a newborn.

Next, rest. Get plenty of it before, during, and after holiday gatherings. We can’t stress that enough, so feel free to reread that sentence several times until you fall asleep.

And when it’s time to partake … , easy does it. Eat the cookies, sip the eggnog (when nursing-appropriate), but since this may be your first foray back into being social, you may want to slow your roll. Your tolerance for all things festive may not be what it was. That also goes for squeezing into your pre-pregnancy party duds. It’s way more impressive that you just made a human than how long you can suffer in your skinny jeans. Keep it real (comfortable).

Then, be on the lookout for sensory overload. Know what triggers it, how to avoid it, and how to tamp it down. Baby doesn’t have any concept of “party,” and can’t be expected to absorb all sorts of lights, cameras, and action. Your sweet snowflake is nowhere near ready for his close-up.

This seems like a good place to remind you to enjoy yourself. All this fuss might feel like fun-wrecking, but trust us: If you’re a party prepper, you won’t be a party pooper.

And no matter where you go, baby is under your jurisdiction. You can be a kind authority, of course, but no one will know the rules unless you make them clear. Like: “Hey, everybody, can I have a quick sec to flex my mom muscle?” (APPLAUSE) “Thanks. Our pediatrician asked me to share that newborns come with fragile immune systems, so when you interact with the baby, please avoid touching her hands. Appreciate it!” There are also polite ways to police things on the fly, like when the toddler asks to hold her: “Not today, sweetie.” When the aunt with the cough wants to demonstrate her burping technique: “I’d love some tips. Can you talk me through it? We agreed not to pass her around today.” Etc. … Nice. Concise. And no rolling the dice with baby’s health and safety.

Finally, it takes a snow village, so you’re gonna need some help. Who will set up the playpen in a quiet bedroom? Who will get you situated for feedings? Who will load the car at the end of the night? Who will eat first, you or your partner? And if you’re going solo, who will be your wing man while you scarf down some turkey? Know before you go, because trying to get someone’s attention across a crowded room when it’s t-minus tantrum is no party.

The magic of the holiday season is now in your hands. The right balance of forethought, patience, boundaries, and self-care during baby’s first holiday (and every day) is the surest path to peace.