The holidays are a great occasion to introduce your family and friends to your little bundle of joy.
Although spending time with new people can be fun, it can also be stressful for your baby. Here are some tips to help you and your little one to get through the holiday season.
When traveling with baby, pack light and only pack the essentials.
Purchasing items like diapers and wipes at your destination can make things less stressful. Packing a safe, portable crib will ensure that your baby has a safe place to lay down. If you don’t want to pack one, many hotels offer pack’n’plays or cribs with their rooms.
If traveling by car, make sure to make frequent stops for nursing and to give the baby a chance to “stretch” and get out of the car seat. Account for the stops when planning your trip. If you are going to be flying, consider babywearing. This makes moving through the airport easier and makes the baby feel more comfortable and secure in the new environment.
Large gatherings can be very overwhelming and overstimulating for babies, especially young babies.
New people, even though they may be friends or family, are strangers to your little one. Being passed to “unknown” people can be very stressful for your baby. Older babies are good at telling people if they want to be held or not and if they are not comfortable, so follow the baby’s lead. Check in often to make sure that things have not changed.
Smaller babies do get irritated more quickly but may have a harder time communicating what is wrong. If you notice your little one starting to feel uncomfortable, remove the baby from the situation. Babywearing can be a helpful tool in these situations, even if it’s only for part of the time. Keeping baby close to you will help keep your stress level down, as well as and your baby’s. Please do not be afraid to take your baby to another room if either of you need a break.
New people bring new germs that your baby will be exposed to.
Babies’ immune systems are new and still developing, so the introduction of many new germs can create the risk of your little one getting sick. Make sure that anyone that comes into contact with the baby washes their hands first, and anyone with symptoms of illness does not make contact with the baby at all.
Sometimes family members can be so overjoyed with the new baby that feeding delays can result.
For a breastfeeding parent, this can lead to a very frustrated baby and may cause clogged ducts and even mastitis. Sometimes, in older babies, it may cause unintended early weaning. Continue to nurse your baby on demand as you normally would do. Use the need to feed your baby to help you and your baby to take breaks in a quiet location. This can be especially helpful if you are not comfortable nursing in front of people. Do not feel like you must answer questions about your breastfeeding.
Parents who are exclusively pumping: maintain your pump schedule, just as you would at home.
Plan ahead of time and coordinate with where you are staying to confirm that you can store your milk there safely. Print out preparation and storage guidelines ahead of time to make sure that anyone else who handles your milk is aware of these instructions. Having a manual pump with you in case pump parts get lost or you need to pump on the go can be helpful.
Talk to your family about your plans and make sure they know not to feed the baby anything that is not approved by you.
If you are fearful that there is someone who will not respect your needs, you can practice babywearing. This way the baby stays with you and eliminates the worry of the baby being passed around. Parents can also plan “quiet time” or “distress” time during the time this particular family member is around or wanting to feed the baby.
Remember to slow down and enjoy your holiday time with your new bundle of joy!
Dominique Gallo, IBCLC, RLC
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant