This is my fourth Christmas as a mum. It is honestly so amazing to spend Christmas with your children. To see their joy on Christmas morning when they discover that Santa has left them presents is a joy second to none. There are also Santa photos, present opening, Christmas food, and seeing all your family members. I have loved doing all of this, and it is truly the highlight of my year. However, I think it is also important to acknowledge that there are also some added difficulties when you are doing Christmas with babies and toddlers.
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If you're looking for fun Christmas activities to do with your children, check out our blog post on it here!
For this blog post, I’ve put together some tips for enjoying your Christmas with babies and toddlers:
Don’t let your family or friends play “pass the baby” if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
As a new mum, I couldn’t stand everyone passing my babies around when they were newborns and I really worried about germs, and also my baby becoming uncomfortable. My best strategy for preventing this is to babywear. Get yourself a great baby carrier, and wear your baby in it whenever you feel the need. Most babies sleep really well in the baby carrier too, so it can be great to wear throughout the whole day.
You may also need to be assertive, and tell everyone that they cannot hold the baby, or that they need to wash their hands first, or that they need to wait. Plan yourself a little script of what to say if there are people pushing you for a hold or a cuddle of the baby. Here are some ideas:
“Baby is so cuddly isn’t she? But she is very small now and we don’t want to make her uncomfortable by passing her around. If you’d like to come and sit next to me you can adore her from here”
“With Covid and germs all going around at the moment, we just ask that everyone washes their hands before holding the baby, as she is very new and her immune system isn’t yet fully developed”
“At the moment baby is very fussy and getting ready for a feed/sleep, if she is happier afterwards you can have a cuddle”
“baby is very small and I am anxious about illnesses, so I don’t feel comfortable allowing everyone to hold her at the moment.”
Dealing with comments about your parenting
Lucky for me, my family has always been very supportive of my parenting. I have not received negative comments from them. Unfortunately, I have read so many stories of parents receiving unkind comments made about their parenting style. I have seen stories of family members commenting on how parents are feeding their baby, how their toddlers behave, tantrums, discipline, and sleep.
My first advice to ignore all of this, and parent your own way. Unfortunately this can be very difficult, so here are some tips I have compiled after reading hundreds of stories like this on social media:
· Prepare yourself as much as possible by planning a script of what you will say if you are criticised. Here are some examples based on a few common themes I have read:
o “Thank you for your input. We are happy with our parenting choices but we really appreciate your concerns”
o “We have decided that we will proceed with this method after reading the latest research on baby and toddler health”
o “The latest parenting guidelines state that … is now recommended”
o “we are happy with our choices on parenting, but we really appreciate your support and we will ask if we would like your opinion on anything else.”
· Get some support from your partner, mother, or other supportive person. If it’s your in-laws making comments or criticisms it can be hard to say anything, so ask your partner to step in and support you. You could even have a code word. You can talk about this in advance so you are all on the same page.
· If you think something is going to be a big issue, avoid doing it in front of family on Christmas. For example, if your toddler is having a tantrum, and you are worried about comments being made about how you deal with it, take your child to another room to deal with the tantrum the way that makes you comfortable. If you are uncomfortable discussing feeding or sleep with family on Christmas due to comments or criticism, only make a short visit after your baby/toddler has had their feed and their nap.
Dealing with overtired and overstimulated babies and toddlers:
As much as Christmas is exciting for babies and toddlers, it can also lead to them being overtired or overstimulated. Some ideas to help deal with this can include:
· Strategically driving at nap time so your child can sleep in the car
· Bring comfort items and things to help calm your toddler down if overstimulated. This can include snuggle toys, blankets and sleeping bags, white noise, music, or baby carriers and prams. Whatever will help your baby or toddler calm down.
· Limit the number of places you visit on Christmas
· Go home early if necessary – if you usually stay all day, it might be easier to go home earlier or before your child’s bedtime.
· Accept that your child is going to be more tired than usual or get less sleep than usual. This can be a hard one, but know that it is just once a year, so if your child is tired and cranky, know that they will be ok and that they will eventually get some rest. Stressing about it can be unhelpful to you, and your child can also sense this stress on you.
Plan only the number of activities and visits you can manage:
Prior to having kids, you might have attended three different family members houses, had parties Christmas eve and Boxing day, and had a week jam packed of activities. You might find now that this is unmanageable with babies and toddlers. Reduce the number of visits or activities you are doing. Choose one house to visit on Christmas, and if necessary, visit other family on the days leading up to Christmas or the days after. Driving around to many different places can be difficult with babies and toddlers and can mean the day is less enjoyable for you as a parent.
Tell your toddler exactly what will be happening in advance:
When your child is old enough to understand what you are saying, this can be very helpful! You can tell them the day before what you are going to be doing, and give them as much detail as they can understand and remember. Remind them in the morning and before you move on to the next activity. This helps them to understand what is happening, and be prepared for it.
Tantrums are inevitable when you have a toddler. Your toddler is also likely to have more tantrums when they are out of their usual routine. This is normal and expected. I love the approach to tantrums from “Big Little Feelings”, who suggest strategies such as; acknowledging and naming your child’s feelings, teaching strategies for dealing with emotions, and offering them choices and positive alternatives.
Christmas is so much fun with babies and small children. You will have so many memories and traditions to look back on over the years! There really is nothing like the joy on your children’s faces on Christmas morning.
If you are a new mum, or have someone close to you who is having a baby, check out our beautiful range of hampers, gifts and products for babies and new mums!
Merry Christmas everyone!