Tips for Navigating the Holidays with a New Baby

Lindsay Watkins, RD, IBCLC

Whether you’re traveling by land or air, staying home, or have a packed social schedule, the holidays can be overwhelming. Add in a new baby, and it can be downright exhausting! These tips will help you navigate your first holiday season with a baby.

Decide your boundaries and communicate your needs

Talk with your partner about your plans and expectations for the holiday season. Decide what’s important, and make a loose plan. Don’t be afraid to decline an invitation, leave a party early so you can get some sleep, or leave baby with your partner to grab dinner with the girls. Having a new baby requires you to be flexible and change plans on a whim. Just knowing this ahead of time can be helpful when things come up and plans need to change.    

Adjust your expectations

Holidays and travel are a lot different with a baby. Knowing this ahead of time is the key to avoid disappointment. It can be hard to be out of your home and routine with a baby. Go with the flow and stick to your routine as best you can. Know that there may be sleep disturbances and your traditions may look different than normal.  

Be prepared

Plan ahead and make a packing list for travel. You will feel like you’re packing your entire house when travelling with your baby, and that’s okay. Babies need a lot of stuff! If you’re flying, make sure your carry-on bag is fully stocked. Pack more diapers than you think you need, and extra clothes for the parents too. Trust me! A baby wrap or carrier makes flying a breeze with a small baby. A stroller is better for an older baby, and can usually be gate-checked. Some moms like to bring a carrier for the plane, for after the stroller gets dropped off.

Utilize online shopping and curbside pickups

I’m sure as a mom you’ve already discovered the beauty of these services but many businesses will do this even if it’s not advertised! This is especially helpful when you’re driving around with a sleeping baby.

Accept advice graciously

Have a well-meaning aunt or mother-in-law who is constantly offering unsolicited parenting advice? You shouldn’t be required to defend your choices as a parent but perhaps this isn’t the best time to engage in a debate about sleep practices or feeding choices. Do your best to let these comments roll off your back and change the subject quickly. A simple “thank you, how about this prime rib?” is a satisfactory response. You can always decompress with your partner or friends later.

Take care of yourself

You know the saying, “put your oxygen mask on first before you help someone else.” This couldn’t be truer with motherhood. Over the next few weeks, take time to relax and unwind or do whatever fills your cup. Here are some easy ideas most of which can be done in as little as 10 minutes – because we all know this time of year is busy!

Try a relaxing 10-minute yoga session before bed.

Spend 30 minutes meal prepping healthy breakfasts for the week. Try some egg cups or these peanut butter overnight oats.

Plan a girl’s night instead of buying gifts for each other (with or without babies!).

Sip some peppermint or gingerbread tea.

Take a crisp walk before you pick up your baby from childcare.

Prep a healthy holiday themed snack – try these “Peppermint Amazeballs.”

I hope these tips will help you navigate this busy time of year with ease. Creating new traditions as a family is fun, but balancing that with extended families and travel can be difficult. If all else fails, put on your matching jammies and throw on another pot of coffee!

Lindsay is a mom to three young children, ages 1, 4, and 7.