parents hold newborn in holiday sweaters

How to Handle Holidays with Newborns

The arrival of a newborn is a joyous occasion, and when it coincides with the holiday season, the excitement can be a mixture of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety. However, amidst the celebrations, it's important to remember that holidays can pose unique challenges for parents with a new baby. The festive season brings with it not only cheer and togetherness but also a heightened risk of illnesses and germs that can be especially dangerous for infants with developing immune systems. Here, we'll explore why it's essential to prioritize the well-being of your newborn during the holidays and provide valuable tips for managing this special time while keeping your baby safe, healthy, and happy.

Why It's Important to Protect Your Newborn During the Holidays

During the holidays, there are several things that can put your newborn baby at risk. While it's a time for joy and family, it's also a time for illness and germs. The more people you spend time with, the more important it is to pay attention to your baby's health and wellness. Colds and influenza can be dangerous for new babies, and people may be sick without symptoms during the incubation period. Since their immune systems are still developing, it can increase their risk of acquiring anything contagious. What's more, if adults don't have all of their immunizations, they may be able to pass pertussis (whooping cough) to your baby boy or girl. This is because babies are more vulnerable to severe complications from pertussis compared to adults. While adults may only experience mild symptoms, they can still transmit the infection to infants who are not yet fully protected by their own immunizations. Pertussis can be life-threatening for babies, so it is important for adults to ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations to protect themselves and the children they come into contact with. While these things can seem scary, there are plenty of ways to keep your newborn healthy and enjoy the holidays.

Tips for Managing Holidays with a Newborn

New parents already have a lot to juggle, but if your due date is close to the holidays, it can seem even more overwhelming. To help, consider the following tips for managing the holidays with a newborn.

1. Continue to Breastfeed During the Holiday Season

Breast milk is filled with essential vitamins and nutrients that help keep your baby strong and healthy. In fact, it can help improve the health of your baby during the holidays since it's packed with antibodies that help boost their immune system. While you might be a little busy with planning or spending time with your loved ones, continuing to breastfeed is one of the best ways to help keep your baby healthy.

2. Try to Stick to Your Usual Schedule

Another tip is to try and stick to your newborn's feeding and sleeping schedule. As a new mom, you may still be struggling to get a good night's sleep, but if you continue to work with your established schedule, you'll be more likely to avoid any disruptions that can increase fussiness. Responsive feeding and plenty of naps is the key to having happy holidays, so don't feel bad if you put your child's needs above those of family or friends.

3. Keep Realistic Holiday Expectations

Whether you're gearing up for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's, or any other holiday, it's important to go into it with realistic expectations. It's important to practice letting go of things you can't control and to expect something to happen among the craziness. With a newborn, your year might look a little different, but that's okay. Don't put unwanted stress on yourself by trying to make everything perfect.

4. Limit Visits from Extended Family

Your baby's first Christmas might warrant some extra attention from the extended family, but don't be afraid to limit the amount of people you're around. Too many visitors can put your newborn at a higher risk of getting sick or fussy, so it's okay if you want to keep the family photo small this year.

5. Start New Family Traditions

With that being said, smaller gatherings might mean new traditions. However many weeks old your baby is, this is a great time to create beautiful new traditions that can grow with your family. Maybe that means sitting down to a family movie while you sip hot cocoa and relax instead of attending an overwhelming holiday party, or maybe it means snuggling up with a cozy fire and reading your favorite holiday books. Now is the time to cherish your first baby and enjoy the little moments you have together.

6. Make Celebrating the Holidays Simple

If you want to celebrate, try to keep things simple. Avoid creating a schedule that makes you feel like your baby is being passed around from friend to friend or family to family. Instead, invite you and your partner's moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and enjoy an easy dinner with your immediate family.

7. Limit or Avoid Alcohol During the First Holiday Season

Although it's okay to have a glass of wine while breastfeeding every now and then, don't go overboard. Try to limit or avoid alcohol completely during this time to ensure that your breast milk is safe to give to your baby. If you want to indulge, make sure you have a freezer stash so you can provide your baby with alcohol-free breast milk while it gets out of your system.

8. Avoid Large, Indoor Gatherings

Some families like to attend church or religious ceremonies during the holidays, but indoor gatherings can be dangerous for extremely young children. If you do go, try not to stay as long as possible and instead choose a seat near an exit so you can easily enter or leave before a crowd congregates. If you're nervous about your newborn's respiratory health, see if the event is offered virtually or through a Live Stream.

9. Practice Good Hygiene with the Little One

Since it's cold and flu season, good hygiene is paramount. If you let your friends or family hold your newborn, make sure they wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before doing so. Hand washing can help reduce germs and pathogens, which significantly decreases the risk of illnesses being transmitted. You may also want to ask those who hold your baby to avoid kissing them, as it's one of the best ways to prevent any issues.

10. Stay Up to Date on Your Flu Shot and Vaccines

In addition to making sure things are sanitized, it's important to stay up to vaccinate yourselves—especially for influenza. This can help reduce the risk of passing any bugs that are going around to your newborn. If you have any questions about illnesses during this time, talk to your pediatrician about recommended vaccinations for both you and your baby.

11. Travel Responsibly and with Plenty of Supplies

Traveling for the holidays? Don't forget to secure the car seat and pack plenty of supplies. Make sure you have all of the newborn essentials on hand, and pack a little more than you'd expect to need. Newborns go through tons of clothes and diapers, and it's always better to have a few extra than not have enough.

12. Don't Be Afraid to Say “No"

If there's something you don't want to do or don't feel comfortable doing, say no. You should make decisions based on your comfort level and your comfort level only—not those of your friends or family. Never feel guilty for declining an invitation or deciding to spend time with your immediate family instead of parading your newborn around to dozens of holiday parties.

13. Embrace Your First Holiday Season with a Newborn

At the end of the day, try to enjoy your first holiday season with your newborn as much as possible. You only get one "first," so do whatever it takes to create long-lasting memories that you'll look back on and cherish. Every family is different, and there's no right or wrong way to celebrate. So sit back and enjoy, and take plenty of pictures!

Hopefully, these tips for keeping your newborn safe, healthy, and happy during the holiday season will help you maximize joy and minimize stress during the last few months of the year. To help you even more, get your insurance-covered breast pump from Byram Healthcare today. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all new and expecting mothers can receive one with zero out-of-pocket costs. Browse our breastfeeding product guide and start the ordering process today.