How to Have a Low-Stress Holiday with Your New Baby

“Low-stress” and “holidays” are two words that few of us can admit to ever putting in the same sentence. And adding a new baby to the mix? Forgettaboutit.

If you have a little one who’s just starting to make a grab for the ornaments, or if you’re expecting to give birth this December, you may be feeling your blood pressure creeping up at the thought of navigating the holiday season while recovering, bonding, and not getting a ton of sleep.

This doesn’t have to be a crazy time for you and your family. You can enjoy the pleasures of the holiday season without sacrificing time and patience and cuddles for your little baby. Here are some tips to remind you that whether you are wildly stressed or not this Christmas really is under your control…

Don’t Host Dinner

If you’re used to hosting a fancy dinner for all the cousins, or if you take turns with other family members, you are hereby excused from this duty this year. Nobody is fooled by “just let us bring the food, you won’t have to do anything”, either. You’re still going to want to decorate, mop your floors, dust, and clean the guest bathroom – and that may rightfully be a little much for you. Maybe one of your other family members can host instead, or you can rent a conference room to get together for a potluck and games.

Put Baby in a Bubble

Well, not really. But based on the fact that this is flu and RSV season, and babies have had tragic outcomes from being kissed by relatives with cold sores, you probably want to try to limit your baby’s exposure to a large group of people. You are under no obligation to allow your baby to be passed around from person to person until they start crying and are handed back to you, upset and red-faced. Sometimes a nice note posted on your social media, or added into your family newsletter, can give everyone the heads-up that you don’t want anyone to kiss your baby’s face or hands due to health reasons – without introducing any extra drama. Many parents have also had wonderful success by wearing their baby in a sling or carrier to a holiday event, as baby wraps are confusing to most people and they aren’t as likely to take your baby or ask to hold them.

Limit Holiday Event-Hopping

When you have a new baby, or are expecting one any minute, it’s important to give yourself grace for your fatigue, restlessness, swelling, pain, and other potential issues – not to mention bonding with your baby! Excessive activity after birth can lead to breast infections, low milk supply, excessive bleeding, and uterine prolapse. Take radical care of yourself and be okay with choosing one or two of the most important Christmas parties to attend, and graciously bow out of the others. Your doctor will also likely advise against you traveling out of town while heavily pregnant or having just given birth. Thank God for doctor’s notes, am I right?

Enjoy a Simple Holiday

Again, it comes down to giving yourself grace during this time. It is okay to snuggle your baby (or your baby bump) and watch A Christmas Prince on Netflix again instead of battling lines of shoppers or hanging lights. Is it wrong to have a huge holiday extravaganza with all the trimmings? Of course not! But at this stage of your life, we want you to know that it is 100% okay to just focus on the most important things. Sending out gold-foil personalized cards to 150 of your closest friends? You have our permission to skip that this year. Decorating every room? One or two can be just as satisfying. Homemade fudge boxes for the neighbors on your cul-de-sac? They’ll understand how it is with a new baby. If you simply must accomplish some of your usual tasks, here’s a life hack: your postpartum doula is happy to come by a little early and help you prepare.

There are many fun holiday activities in Annapolis that you can enjoy, even with a new baby. The main thing is, just choose one and don’t overdo it! This is an incredibly special time in your life. Nobody except your immediate family has any rights or claims upon this time and you can make it what you want it to be, with a little support. You’ve got this. Happy Holidays!