Whether you’re going away for a couple of weeks at Christmas or just staying home, you’re entitled to ease up on your usual pace. At this time of the year, housework and other tedious pursuits tend to become a little less important and in their place, we find more time for connection and joy.
It’s one thing to be a little more lax, but another entirely to pick up the pieces once all the merriment is over.
Many babies and small children are much happier when they follow a predictable and regular routine, whether on holidays or not. Others just have a much easier temperament and tend to fit in with whatever else is happening in a busy family life.
Think about your own baby’s individual temperament and personality. If they’re little creatures of routine and structure then it will be much kinder to them (and in the long run yourself), if you aim for the same routine over the silly season as every other day.
Feed your baby when they’re hungry, cuddle them when they’re tired and place them into their cot when they’re sleepy.
There’s value in watching parents who have more than one child. Younger children in families just need to fit in and there’s generally less parental worry about how the baby will manage. Another valuable lesson is to see how experienced parents juggle everyone’s needs. Every child seems to take turns vying for their parent’s attention and inevitably, the smallest people need to wait their turn too.
The heat of an Australian Christmas means that maintaining hydration and a cool body temperature is a priority. Small babies particularly, can become very grizzly when they’re hot and uncomfortable. Extra breastfeeds and offers of cooled; boiled water for babies who are bottle-fed is a good way of maintaining hydration.
Your baby may not be too keen on hot solid foods such as vegetables and meat. If they’re old enough, aim for a family diet with a focus on salad type vegetables and small pieces of cut up meat, egg, chicken etc. Introduce your baby to a sipper cup with cooled, boiled water so they can learn what’s involved with drinking from a cup.
When in doubt, bath your baby. Over the long weeks of summer, a cooling bath can be the best way to defuse crankiness and help boost feelings of comfort.
Remember, your baby doesn’t know that it’s Christmas. No matter how excited you are or tell them how many sleeps until Santa comes, they really won’t understand you. Think about things from your baby’s perspective and use empathy as a basis for all your decisions. It’s never wrong.
Dress your baby in cotton or natural fibres. Feel the temperature of their skin on their back and consider what you’re wearing yourself. Although it’s lovely to dress our children up in festive finery, they can become very hot and uncomfortable, so think about their experience and what’s right for them.
Relax a little and expect your baby to be passed around for cuddles and attention. Babies learn how to be social as a result of how they’re cared for and importantly, the way other people respond to them. It’s inevitable they’ll be rocked and cuddled to sleep at times, just go with the flow.
Everyone will be an expert about your baby’s needs and development. Even if you’ve not seen some of those relatives and friends for a very long time, expect them to be the font of all wisdom. Be gracious and a role model for your baby on how to be a decent human.
If you're needing some extra support during the Christmas holiday season, our RockaBub app has heaps of advice and tips to help.
The Health Professionals who developed RockaBub have worked with literally thousands of sleep challenged babies and toddlers and now share their wisdom with families in this app.
The NourishBaby - Guide to Babies - is an online program that you can view in your own time. The Guide to Babies helps you to understand and care for your baby and covers key milestones, sleep and settling advice and baby development. There is a section on real parents sharing their experience of adjusting to parenthood.
Written for Safe Sleep Space by Jane Barry, Child Health Nurse and Midwife.