The holidays are a time of happiness, laughter, and making memories with friends and family. Wait, hold on, back it up. For some of you, we lost you in the first sentence. To be accurate, the holidays can be downright stressful, and if you’ve recently welcomed a new bundle of joy into your lives, you may just want to take a pass this time of year. Admit it, your ears are ready to fall off and the mind-numbing tension headache is at a breaking point from a fussy baby and the bags under your eyes indicate just how much sleep you’ve lost. Oh, and don’t forget how empty your wallet feels because from endless diapers and wipes you purchase weekly. But whatever the case may be this holiday season, don’t let it all turn you into the Grinch. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You, your new one, and the rest of the family can and will survive. Take it from us, and consider these top tips to bring back the joy this holiday season with a newborn.
Flying With a Baby
Holiday travel can be nerve-racking enough, but when you add in a newborn, and it may become a mixture for disaster. If you’ve got a long distance to travel you may choose to fly. If so, consider the tips to flying with a baby:
Avoid Peak-Time Flights.
While it might be hard during the holidays, avoiding peak travel times to give you and your baby more space, more personal service and an all-around nicer experience. Remember to avoid school holidays, weekends and Mondays as they’re the busiest flying day of the week.
Choose an Airline.
Not all airlines offer equal standards of service or the same amount of legroom. Take that into consideration and if it’s worth more than buying the cheapest ticket.
Save Some Cash.
Babies under age 2 can typically fly for free by sitting in your lap. Although that may save you some money, you may want to purchase an adjacent seat for extra room or to place car seats or any extra necessities you may bring along. Most airlines will allow you to gate check car seats and strollers.
Let the Airline Know You Are Traveling with a Baby.
It’s not against the rules to let the airline know you’re traveling with a newborn. Politely ask them to leave a set next to you empty. They may honor your request if the flight is not booked to capacity.
Get on the Plane Last.
Airline staff may try to get you and your baby on the plane first, but that’s the last thing that you want with a young one. If possible, let your little one burn off as much energy as possible before boarding the plane.
Aisle Seats are Key.
When booking your ticket, try to reserve an aisle seat. This gives you more flexibility to get up without disturbing other passengers in the event that you need to walk around to soothe your baby or go to the bathroom to change a diaper.
Protect You Baby’s Ears While Flying.
A newborn’s ears may hurt during takeoff and landing, just as an adult may chew gum to help with change in pressure, give your baby a pacifier, teething toy, bottle to help keep their jaws moving to soften the pressure change. Feeding by bottle or breastfeeding will also help equalize the pressure thanks to sucking and swallowing motions.
Wear Your Baby.
Using a body sling-type baby carrier helps in a few ways. It’s safer than having them on your lap without a seatbelt and it gives you the ease of getting in and out of your seat more efficiently in narrow airplane aisles. It also give your hands the freedom to carry other baggage.
Driving With a Newborn
If flying isn’t in the cards for you, driving maybe your next alternative. While driving has many benefits like going at your own pace and not disrupting others, driving with a baby can be just as stressful especially on long trips. You may have to stop every half hour for feedings, diaper changes, or simply to comfort your baby. If you’re taking the highway, check out the tips below.
Make sure you have a good infant car seat and that is properly installed. Also, don’t drive if you’re tired. If you have another passenger, take turns driving. If you are alone, stop the car, get out and stretch, and walk if you begin to get sleepy.
Determine a Good Departure Time.
You’ve gassed up and the vehicle is ready to roll, but choosing when to roll can make or break your trip’s anxiety. A good time to start a trip is around a sleeping time like bed time or nap time. Make sure your baby has eaten and is to help keep the baby asleep for the longest period possible.
Pack the Diaper Bag with Extras.
Don’t forget to pack the diaper bag with an extra set of clothes, wipes, toys and diapers just in case.
Plan for Frequent Stops.
When traveling with a newborn in a vehicle, be prepared to make frequent stops along the way. Stopping at state designated rest stops are a great option as they tend to have more space for walking indoors and outdoors, as well as they usually have less crowds of people.
Bring a few toys with you to keep the baby occupied and distracted from sitting in a car seat for an extended period of time.
Shelter from the Sun.
While the weather around the holiday season might be cool or even cold, be sure to protect your newborn with a sunshade that you can put on his or her car seat or the window.
Home for the Holidays With the Baby
If traveling out of town by vehicle or flying isn’t for your family this holiday, perhaps inviting people to your house is the best option. It may seem counter-intuitive, but offering to be the “host family” isn’t out of the question. Staying at home has a few perks.
Stay at Home.
Make your relatives visit you so your baby can stay in a familiar environment and you can set the ground rules.
Routine is Key.
With all the hustle and bustle of the season, try to keep your baby in a routine as best you can. They will be able to tell the difference. Even the slight change in new people and additional noise can alter a baby’s familiar environment. Think about investing a white-noise machine to use while your baby is napping to help drown out the commotion and help the baby focus on sleeping rather than the excitement. Don’t be afraid to get out of the house to get some fresh air; a short drive with the baby in the car seat can do wonders.
Tell the Truth.
Honesty is a parent’s best friend, especially during the holidays. If family ask if there’s anything they can do to help, lay it on them. That might include making dinner, cleaning the house, or an afternoon of babysitting so you can get the work done you need to or to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to have a “perfect” holiday. There’s no such thing.
Lastly, Don’t be Afraid to Say No.
You may be used to participating in family traditions or helping out more in the past, but with a baby things change and that’s ok. Make sure to place your baby and your sleep and sanity first, and sometimes that may mean saying no to things.
No matter how much you prepare, the holidays and newborns are unpredictable. It’s more than likely something is going to happen you didn’t plan. But take it in stride. By planning ahead and keeping your cool, you’ll be prepared for an amazing holiday season with your newborn.