Baby's first Christmas is a magical event. Among other things, your little sugarplum will be the star of every gathering. However, for many little ones, the most enjoyable holiday experiences are those that aren't too exciting. There is such a thing as too many jingle bells!
We all look forward to holiday parties, but they do create dilemmas for new parents. Many babies are easily overwhelmed and over-stimulated by noise, crowds, and new experiences. When making plans and accepting invitations, factor baby's tolerance into the equation. Does he adapt well to new situations? Does he accept strangers easily, or is a loud room full of new faces likely to over-stimulate him?
The best way to ensure a happy holiday is to create realistic expectations, let baby set the pace, and be ready to adjust your plans if needed. For example...
Most babies thrive on a fixed routine, so stick to your everyday schedule—feedings, naps, and bedtime—as much as possible. (Keeping baby up late to meet Great Uncle Fred may be a lovely idea, but not if she cries throughout his visit.)
Traveling? Bring that beloved security blanket along, as well as other favorite toys and soothing music. They'll help baby feel secure in unfamiliar settings.
You can tell an older child what to expect during the holidays. With babies, it's not so easy. However, if your baby is old enough, you might want to show him photos of the people he'll be meeting, and repeat their names so they become familiar. Include photographs of holidays past, so he learns to recognize a Christmas tree and other holiday decorations.
Most babies won't enjoy extended festivities. Factor in some quiet playtime and snuggle time just for you. You can all use the downtime to recharge your batteries.
Accept the fact that baby may not be able to handle every party equal. Watch for the first signs of over-stimulation—yawning, eye-rubbing, turning away—and withdraw from the scene if it's clear she's had enough.
In other words, give baby only as much holiday spirit as he can comfortably handle. It just might be the best gift you can give him (and yourself)!