Baby's First Holiday Season
Establishing Your Own Family Traditions
If you come from differing faiths, the holidays may be extremely complicated; however, if you and your spouse were able to transcend your faiths and commit to spending your lives together, you can also find a way to compromise during the holidays. Consider celebrating both holidays—buy a Christmas tree and light a menorah, sing Christmas carols and play Dreidl. As your child grows, you can explain to him the differences between your faiths and how your family will handle the holidays—but for this first year, your baby will just be happy to share in the festivities and be close to you and your spouse. (Click here for more tips on balancing more than one holiday.)
There are many fun secular family traditions you can begin even now with your baby. Taking a yearly family photo, making annual footprints and handprints, or starting a holiday journal or scrapbook are all ways to introduce tradition and ritual to your baby. A record of your family’s evolution—and her growth—will be a precious gift she’ll enjoy for years to come.
If you are planning to share gifts with your older baby, consider wrapping her packages with extra paper and let her have fun ripping it off. The colorful paper is a wonderful tactile experience. Help her safely play with the wrapping and keep a careful watch in case she should try to eat the paper.
Perhaps your child is blessed with loving grandparents—who may also be a little overzealous around the holiday season. Some new parents politely request that grandparents skip gift-giving this first year and instead help with practical items such as diapers, baby food, bottles, or blankets. Others suggest educational toys, or even donations for future college funds rather than traditional toys.
After the holidays have passed, let your baby experience each new toy alone first before introducing a new one. You may wish to leave one or two toys out and box up the rest. Over the next months, periodically switch out one of her older toys and introduce a new one.
Family and love are the foundations of the winter holiday season—this is especially true when a new baby is at the center of attention. Sometimes the extra doting can be over-stimulating for little ones. It may also trigger stress for you and your partner as relatives extol advice on everything from how often to feed your baby to bedtime and bathtime rituals. Don’t be afraid to politely tell well-meaning relatives that although you appreciate their help, you and your partner have established routines that work for your baby.
Try to retain the basics of your child’s feeding, bathing, and sleep schedule. Check for the telltale signs of fatigue and over-stimulation (ear-pulling, excessive crying, restlessness, and so on), and if you notice your baby becoming agitated, remove yourselves from the festivities and temporarily escape to a quiet place. You can even make a “Do not disturb” or “Shh … baby sleeping” sign and hang it on your baby’s door to remind your guests that there is a baby napping nearby. If you are planning to visit family or friends, ask ahead if you can use a spare room for such a purpose.
Depending on your baby’s age during the holiday season, you may need to take extra precautions to ensure his safety around decorations, plants, and food.
If your little one is already crawling, you’ll need to chaperone him at all times. Be sure to set hot food well away from curious hands and keep tablecloths out of Baby’s reach; you can even keep your child in his high chair or in a baby carrier during dinner. Keep lit menorahs on high surfaces and regularly check your Christmas tree to make sure it is securely anchored within its stand. Many accidents occur this time of year when parents are distracted by family visitors, holiday festivities, and decorations. If you feel overwhelmed, enlist the help of another family member or a friend to take turns watching over your baby with you.
Don’t succumb to the idea that you need to do anything to make other family members happy. No matter how you spend this first holiday with your new baby—whether you opt to travel, host your own family gathering, share gifts, or stay home, remember that this is your time—your new family’s first holiday together. Relax and revel in the beautiful new life you and your spouse are sharing together during this special season.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN