3rd December 2021

The first Christmas after you have a baby is weird.

Sorry, did you think we were going to say it was beautiful and serene and all that we’ve ever imagined Christmas could be?

We all think Christmas is about cosy family snuggles under the tree. And the arrival of a baby heralds the beginning of joyous faces staring enraptured at twinkling lights. But the reality tends to involve a lot more stress, a much longer to-do list, and a growing empathy for Kevin’s mother being so busy that she left him at home by accident.

And this year is even weirder, with a lockdown Christmas to make up for and a growing feeling of freedom in the air.

But don’t despair: we have your indispensable guide to surviving Baby’s First Christmas. Less stress, less effort, and less chance that you’ll end up having to explain to a policeman why your son has concussed a couple of burglars.

Decide where to celebrate

This year (as we type this, anyway) we’re out of lockdown and can enjoy the company of whoever we want over turkey and mince pies. But, with these opportunities, come increased expectations to visit EVERYONE.

And with a new baby, the temptation to do the rounds because Great Aunt Sylvia can’t imagine not seeing little Beth can be overwhelming.

But the reality is: you’re tired, your baby is small, and this is only one Christmas. Spending the majority of the festive season on the M25 with a screaming baby in the backseat is not fun. Or compulsory.

So, remember that you do have options, and that setting boundaries is an important aspect of self care. It is perfectly ok to stay at home (with or without guests) on the 25th December.

Have a plan for visits

If you do decide that you want to visit family and friends then you will need a baby-specific plan. Here are some tips to consider:

  • If they go stir crazy stuck in a room full of cooing relatives, make sure you’ve packed the buggy or sling and go out for a walk. You can explore all the twinkly Christmas lights in the neighbourhood. Alternatively, have a room you can go to that is darker and quieter for a little break. This is great for your little one, and for giving you space from Grandad’s suspect jokes.
  • If you’re still nursing and you’d rather have privacy (or your little bundle of joy has serious FOMO and won’t feed if a mouse sneezes next door), then make sure you have a quiet space to retire to so Granny doesn’t try to shove a soft bunny in his face mid let-down. And if you’re happy nursing in the living room but struggling to make your festive outfit breastfeeding friendly, our breastvests can help.
  • Even in strange places, it helps to stick to routines. If baby usually naps around 10am then keeping them up for another 2 hours isn’t going to result in the most cooperative cherub at the lunch table. But don’t panic if your usual routine (or something similar) isn’t possible. Babies will survive a blip in usual proceedings. Also, white noise for naps is a godsend to mask the festive cheer downstairs. And a plug in nightlight can help with overnight stays.
  • It’s ok to say no: to new foods (you can always politely explain to Cousin Stephen that his favourite sugary mince pies will give her explosive diarrhoea!!), cuddles, overstimulation, and staying up too late. You are your baby’s advocate

Don’t spend a fortune on toys

Babies don’t understand Christmas.

I know that companies spend a fortune on trying to convince you that there are 1 million cute toys and outfits you need to complete your festive tableaux. Newsflash - your baby would rather play with the box. Or the wrapping paper. Or the pea you just dropped on the kitchen floor.

I can still remember the disappointment on my mother-in-law’s face as my 9-month-old disdainfully dropped the flashing plastic TV remote she had lovingly wrapped for him and started munching on the corner of a sofa cushion instead.

To save your relatives disappointment, and your bank balance you need to be strategic with presents. People are lovely, and they will want to buy things for your baby. But we would suggest a two-pronged plan of attack:

  1. Ask for useful things: your baby will grow out of clothes in the time it takes you to blink. So sleepsuits, vests, tiny baby socks that get lost on a walk, all these are perfect things to ask for at Christmas. Also books, as these tend to have a longer shelf life than toys. If you’re feeling very organised, then maybe ask for things you’ll need to get ready for your weaning journey.
  2. Assign gifts. As lovely as it is to be surprised, when you end up with 7 Sophie Le Giraffe toys, it’s not so much fun. Make a list of the things you’d like/you need and share them out amongst all those who’ve asked about presents. This way it’s less likely you’ll be unwrapping 17 Santa outfits that your baby won’t fit into by New Year’s Eve.

Keep it simple

We promise that we are not trying to bring you down. We looooove Christmas; it’s one of our favourite times of the year. But as parents we put so much pressure on ourselves for everything to be picture-perfect that we often don’t have time (or energy) to enjoy it.

Your baby’s first Christmas is special to you, but be kind to yourself. A lot of the traditions at this point are more for you than they are for your baby. So, focus on things that can grow as your family does.

Pick traditions from your own childhood that you’d like to continue, or choose new ones for your new little family, that can be adapted for the age of your baby.

  • Choose a special book to read on Christmas Eve,
  • Create a special bauble (or buy a personalized one ready made),
  • Put cookies and milk (or a mince pie and glass of whisky if that’s more your thing!) out for Santa,
  • Go on a bracing Boxing Day walk

 

And, if you’re hosting, or just hanging at home, consider not cooking a whole roast dinner from scratch while you feed, burp, change, and rock a baby to sleep. It’ll only result in soggy broccoli and dry turkey. The freezer is your friend.