Hold on to your cornucopias. The holidays are coming. Yes, it’s true. That beloved season of holidays, family, and bite sized fried appetizers is upon us and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited.
Of course, I, for one, don’t have a newborn baby.
For new parents across the world, the first holiday season with a baby is simultaneously exciting and frightening. The exciting part is easy to manage. Think of all the fun seasonal outfits (or costumes, as my family calls them) that your baby will get to wear! All the new things they will experience! All the memories that will be made! But on the other hand, think of all the naps that will be skipped! All the pushy family members to fight off! All the travel to be had!
But fear not, Newbie Parents. With a few little tricks from those of us seasoned parents who have made the mistakes for you already, you’ll make it through the holidays AND actually have a good time, too!
Travel when your baby sleeps. If you’re scheduling a flight or planning a car ride, try to schedule the bulk of your travel time during your newborns nap sessions. I know this seems to go against all reasoning and logic, but, for the most part, newborns sleep really soundly through just about anything. Enjoy this time and take advantage of traveling with a newborn or young infant because as they get older, it just gets more complicated. Newborns are generally very easy to travel with because they sleep so much. (If you travel on a plane, use a sling or infant carrier to keep them closer to you to prevent illness. Be sure your baby is old enough for a sling, though.)
Be prepared to say no, and then don’t feel bad about it. Families LOVE babies! And for good reason, too. That’s part of their lineage you just done birthed there! They’re going to want to hold them, tote them around, and give their cheeks little snuggles. As a new aunt myself, trust me – we can’t help ourselves! Your job is to find a way to let them enjoy this new family member while still giving your baby the space they need. I have found that the best way to do this is to be honest and kind. Phrases like, “Thanks for holding him, but I’m going to give him a break from all this good auntie-loving!” or you can always fall back on blaming yourself, “Ohhh!! Let me have him back! I miss him already!” Another great trick with family is to play good offense. When the baby is fed, napped, and changed, the conditions are right for some relative snuggles, so be the one to offer the baby up. If you offer when the conditions are right, your family is more likely to understand when the conditions are not right.
Take stuff. Take lots of stuff. Your days of traveling with a small duffel bag are over, my friend. Embrace the new traveling you. Take what you need to make your baby comfortable, and don’t feel bad about it! Bringing their own pack ‘n play from home is a great way to help them sleep better in an unfamiliar place. It’s also a good idea to bring anything that is part of their normal nighttime routine. Bean and Gracie listen to music when they go to sleep, so we always pack their iPod and speaker set to bring with us. We also bring a nightlight because most places don’t have them, and our kids are used to sleeping with them. Bring a Bumbo if your child is using one. It’s a great way to give them a place to be while not having to haul an entire swing or bouncer seat with you. If you’re going somewhere where you don’t know the bathroom conditions, you might want to consider bringing your own baby bathtub with you (space permitting when you travel!). I used to feel bad about rolling up with all our baby stuff. I’d hear people say, “Oh, we only bring one bag for the entire family…” and I think, “Shoot! They win!” But the truth is, who cares??? If it takes an entire moving van of equipment to make your baby feel comfortable when traveling, then so be it! Do what it takes because the one thing you leave behind will be the one thing you need on your trip. TRUST ME.
Traveling throughout the holidays with a baby can be tricky, but if you’re prepared and confident then it will be so much easier. Plan ahead and relax in the moment. That’s what parenthood is all about!