Managing the holidays with a newborn
This article has been reviewed on November 21, 2022 by Dr. Anju Bhargava.
The holidays are an exciting time, full of the hustle and bustle of running around looking for gifts, preparing meals, and throwing parties. While this is supposed to be a time of love and fun, it can also be stressful for anyone, never mind a brand new mom. In fact, according to a 2021 survey, three out of five Americans feel that their mental health is negatively impacted by the holidays. 1 That stress can be exacerbated if you recently had a baby- even if it wasn’t your first!
Remember, each baby is different and your body is still recovering. Moreover, you may still be getting used to an erratic sleep schedule or identifying the best way to meet the nutritional needs of your baby. In light of these stressors, be sure to give yourself some leeway so that you can continue to prioritize your baby’s health and your emotional wellbeing.
Here are some tips and strategies that will help you reduce stress and enjoy the holidays with your newborn:
Learn to accept imperfections
- If you’re someone who is accustomed to buying elaborate gifts, making homemade desserts, or otherwise creating picture-perfect holiday experiences, give yourself a pass for this year.
- Buying pre-made desserts, giving gift cards, and/or getting a fake tree, can save you time and stress over the holidays.
- If your friends and family are expecting to see your baby for the first time during the holidays, be sure to set expectations for how they should prepare to be around your baby.
- Some vaccines cannot be given to babies younger than six months old. If your baby is younger than six months of age, talk to your doctor to find out what types of vaccinations your friends and family should get if they plan to be around your newborn.
Ask for help
- If you are planning to host a holiday party at your house or apartment, consider asking a friend or trusted family member to assist with “host” duties. For example, perhaps they will be responsible for cleaning, entertaining some guests, or running last minute errands.
- This will give you some bandwidth to attend to your baby or take a break from the festivities for a moment, should you need it.
- Hosting the gathering at your home gives you quick and easy access to baby essentials and privacy, helps you avoid overstimulating
Continue prioritizing your health and self-care
- It is so easy to become over-indulgent around the holidays. Rather than eliminating entire food groups or fully indulging, aim for a balance.
- Enjoy your holiday meals, but try having a healthy snack beforehand.
- Use the time that you’ve saved by buying pre-made dishes to catch up on sleep, go for a walk, or unwind with a good book.
- Allow yourself to get in the holiday spirit! Start a gratitude journal or list the people and experiences for which you are grateful. Research shows that gratitude can improve mental wellbeing and strengthen positive emotions.
1 Gillison Jr, D.H. (2021, Dec. 20). The Most Difficult Time of the Year: Mental Health During the Holidays. NAMI. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/From-the-CEO/December-2021/The-Most-Difficult-Time-of-The-Year-Mental-Health-During-the-Holidays