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, as is often the case in situations that are emotion-charged, there can be a reality gap… where the expectation and the reality don’t meet. In order to set yourself up for a more realistic and 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 bubba 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.)

And just remember that an over-tired baby is even more difficult to get to sleep, so don’t be tempted to give in to requests to keep the baby up past her nap time. Unless the same well-meaning relatives are willing to settle your baby to sleep when she’s a crying, exhausted mess! Be firm and leave the room before your baby is over-tired, which is likely to be sooner than you think with all the extra stimulation going on around them.

2. Better still, have Christmas at your house

In the end, it may just be the very best decision to have everyone come to your house this 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. 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. And if your baby was born during Covid they are probably about to see more people in one day than they have done on any other single day in their life. Expect them to find it overwhelming 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. 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!

4. 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.

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. Be grateful for 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.

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