Learn tips on how to care for a newborn baby during the busy holiday seaon

6 Tips for Taking Care of a Baby During the Holidays

If you’re caring for a newborn, the holiday season might be a little more stressful than usual.

Holidays are already a time of high burnout from family obligations, shopping, and food preparations. Add in caring for a newborn, and it may seem overwhelming.

The pressure is a lot, but the holidays and having a new baby are exciting. Follow these tips to help you handle this holiday season and enjoy all the goodness it brings.

For more information about postpartum care, contact Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Learn about how to care for a newborn during the holiday season

1. Reduce Time Around Crowds

The holiday season also brings cold season. Newborns haven’t developed immunity to the bugs common during flu season. So try to avoid large crowds within the first two months of birth.

If that isn’t an option, Keith Somers, MD, a pediatrician at UPMC’s Children’s Community Pediatric (CCP), recommends minimizing the exposure by setting a time limit or designating an area, away from the crowds, where you can be with your baby. “Instead of being in the center of commotion, be off-center but available for small visits,” says Dr. Somers.

You can minimize your newborn’s risk by keeping your infant up-to-date with immunizations, washing your hands frequently, and asking others to use hand sanitizer.

2. Get as Much Rest as Possible

The baking, shopping, and endless social engagements are enough to make anyone stress. Add in caring for a newborn during this busy holiday season and even the most Zen mom may struggle, so make sure to manage your stress first. Getting enough sleep is the most important here.

“Whenever we’re sleep deprived, we are at our worst,” explains Dr. Michael Bummer, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

The adage stands true though: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Make sure to take naps when your infant naps. “Sometimes even a power nap can be just as important as a four-hour sleep,” says Dr. Somers.

3. Rethink Travel

While traveling during the holidays may not be the best idea for a newborn, some can’t avoid it. Dr. Somers recommends avoiding traveling on peak days and giving yourself more travel time, whether driving or flying. Domestic flights recommend a two-hour check-in, so perhaps give yourself three hours to account for feeding.

Takeoff and landing may be difficult for your baby. Dr. Somers recommends feeding to help with changes in cabin pressure cabin pressure. Swaddling can also help soothe your child.

Dr. Somers also suggests packing the usual items in the diaper bag, but include extra diaper cream or corn starch powder to soothe irritations and a large variety of burp cloths and wipes to help with messes. Music boxes and a variety of lullaby music can also help to soothe newborns.

4. Focus on Healthy Food Choices

As you make decisions to attend parties, try to focus on making healthy food choices. Eating Christmas cookies may be yummy, but you may experience cravings, crashes, or an upset stomach later.

Dr. Bummer also explains that women experience an “immune system lag” after pregnancy, which could be affected by your food choices. This immunity lag can make women prone to head colds and other illnesses that can linger for weeks, affecting your mood, sleep, and stress. Dr. Somers also recommends eating a diet rich in a variety of whole foods and drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated.

While many new moms are excited about having their first glass of wine after delivery, make sure to consume alcohol in limited quantities, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Dr. Bummer recommends following the same dietary guidelines for pregnancy after delivery.

“We don’t know how much alcohol actually gets into the breast milk, but there are negative consequences on a fetus and the potential on newborns as well,” explains Dr. Somers.

Other foods that may make infants gassy or affect via the breast milk include cruciferous vegetables and beans. While some infants have no problems, others may be especially sensitive.

5. Stick to a Schedule

No matter what your holiday obligations are, try to follow your infant’s regular schedule. This includes breastfeeding, when you pump breast milk, and when your baby sleeps. Women experience pain and discomfort from engorged breasts after missed feedings; it may cause reduced milk supply.

Also, plan your events around your infant’s schedule. Try to find an area where you can comfortably breastfeed or pump. Pack necessary supplies, like nursing pads, breast milk storage bags, and other items to keep you and baby comfortable.

Also consider your newborn’s sleep schedule when traveling. Make sure to pack a blanket for swaddling, and don’t forget the pack and play so your baby will have a place to nap. Call your hosts before arriving to ensure a perfect spot for baby to sleep.

6. Practice Self-Care

Labor and delivery are hard on a woman’s body. Jumping right into a busy holiday season may be overwhelming physically, especially if you had a cesarean section. Take it slow. Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby. Listen to your body’s signals, and avoid external pressures to prep or attend parties.

Your mental health is also important during this time of year, as many people experience holiday blues. This may be worsened by postpartum depression. Dr. Bummer says that roughly 10 percent of women have postpartum depression.

If you begin to lose interest in things you typically enjoy, have difficulty sleeping or are sleeping too much, suicidal thoughts, extreme anxiety, or other symptoms, you may have postpartum depression.

“Don’t be fooled if something doesn’t feel right,” Dr. Bummer advises. Talk to a doctor: Both counseling and medication are effective treatments for postpartum depression and many medications are perfectly safe while breastfeeding.

The holidays are a busy time, especially when new parents must juggle caring for their newborn with the stresses of the holidays. Take time to care for yourself first, and follow these simple steps to help make the holidays extra joyful for you and your little one.

For more information about postpartum care, contact Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.