Anticipating your baby’s first Christmas is really special and everyone loves it when there’s a new baby in the family at Christmas time. However, we know that the lead up to the season can leave mothers and their little ones feeling tired and frazzled. Preparing for Christmas always makes life extra busy and it can take a lot out of mothers, both physically and emotionally. For many families it involves the organisation of gatherings with family and loved ones, which often involves travel. There can be increased pressure on finances, the weariness of battling crowded shopping centres, not to mention extra cooking and cleaning as we prepare for the festivities. For mothers and babies, this can be a recipe for Christmas colic.
In order to set yourself up for a happy Christmas Day, consider the following tips:
1. Work out where your baby is going to sleep on Christmas Day.
If you’re planning to spend time in someone else’s home on Christmas day, it will pay dividends to have a good pre-emptive think about where your baby will take their naps. Whilst there may be a house full of willing relatives prepared to nurse, rock and cuddle your baby non-stop, this will only work for so long. Eventually your little angel will become overstimulated and exhausted from all that handling and at some point you will have to extract your baby from grandmas arms and find a suitable sleeping place. Ideally you’ll need the use of a quiet room, away from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas festivities, with either a bed for you to both lay down on, or a cot of some description (porta-cots can be great option and tend to work better than a pram in scenarios like this.) Alternatively, a baby carrier may be the very best thing.
2. Have Christmas at your house
In the end, it may just be the best decision to have everyone come to your house for Christmas. After all you’re the one with the new baby. The benefit is that your baby can nap in their normal sleeping environment and you don’t have to lug all of that extra gear with you and set it up in someone else’s house, when all you really want to do is relax and enjoy the gathering. That doesn’t mean that you do all the cooking either! Make sure to delegate when it comes to who’s bringing what food and accept all offers of help. Especially help with washing dishes and cleaning up afterwards.
3. Consider alternate times to gather
Meeting for breakfast or brunch may be a more suitable time for you and your baby. See if your family can be flexible and depart from traditional lunch or dinner this year. Babies are usually more rested and happier in the morning which can make everyone’s day more enjoyable.
4. Have realistic expectations
Chances are your baby’s first Christmas may not go exactly as you hope it will. Your own stress levels will probably be running higher, you may be extra tired, your baby may not have slept the night before, and you may have a long car trip before you get there. Expect your baby to find the day tiring and expect to find it tiring yourself. Then, if things don’t go quite to plan, you can be kind to yourself and willingly let go of the expectations that you may have had for the day. Be prepared to leave early if you need to. Parenting is not picture-perfect. It’s hard work and it’s messy at times and that’s okay. Next Christmas your baby won’t be a baby anymore!
5. Prioritise baby’s feeds
Be mindful about noticing your baby’s earliest hunger cues, and try to respond to them promptly. Don’t delay. When there’s lots of people handling the baby, or your busy doing other things, its easy to miss their early, more subtle cues. However, its best not to wait til your baby is upset before feeding them. This will only make things more difficult in the end.
6. Enjoy yourself but go easy on the alcohol and plum pudding
If you’re breastfeeding, just be mindful that what you consume, your baby does too. A lot of rich food or unaccustomed food can lead to fussiness later on. Better to not indulge in too much that varies greatly from your usual food choices.
And if you are planning to consume alcohol, you need to do so carefully around the timing of your feeds. It takes approximately 2 hours for a standard drink to leave your bloodstream and your breastmilk. That means you should not breastfeed your baby within two hours of consuming alcohol. The best time to have an alcoholic drink is just after feeding your baby so that you have as much time as possible for your body to break down the alcohol before your baby needs to feed again. It’s a really good idea to consider expressing a feed and taking it with you so that you don’t get caught out. Any milk you express whilst you have alcohol in your bloodstream is not safe for your baby and will need to be thrown away. Download the FeedSafe app by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, to help you calculate how long after consuming alcohol you can safely breastfeed again.
If in the end everything goes to pieces and you end up with an over-tired baby who hasn’t slept or fed well all day, just remember you can start again tomorrow. Plan a quiet day at home for the following day. Appreciate the time you’ve had with your loved ones and for the gift of your new baby and take some photos to remind yourself of your baby’s first Christmas. You’ll be glad for the memories in years to come.