Monday, November 14, 2005

Helping Baby With The Stress Of The Holidays

Well, the holiday season is upon us once again. We find that we, as adults, stress out about the parties, the shopping, and the eating. Now that you have a baby, however, you must consider her or his feelings on the stress of the holidays, too.

Having a holiday with a baby is a new experience. First, try to keep your little one's schedule as happy and flexible as possible. Try to emulate your normal routine as much as possible. That means that while Grandma will want to hold baby all day, he still needs his nap. It can be tough, but be your baby's advocate. You need to pick him up and ask for quiet time when baby needs it.

Also try to keep his eating habits as close to normal as possible. Even the parents strictest about following recommended diets will splurge a bit during the holidays. It is cute to see baby take a little bite of stuffing or mashed potatoes or to cover her face with whipped cream. Just don't overdo it. While baby's diapers will let you know when you have gone too far, you should be sure to keep in mind that baby's tummy is little and cannot handle a fat overload.

To that end, you will need to be baby's watch guard. Do not let others give baby foods you know are not good for her or that you don't want her to have. It does not matter if others see the logic in your choice; stand up for it.

Besides the food and family, you likely will take your baby out during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. A normally tranquil trip to downtown shops can become a crazy, shopper-dodging experience. Babies are very sensitive to sensory stimuli. For many babies, too much noise will put them to sleep immediately. For others, too much noise will make them cry. You will need to watch for these signs. Just because you enjoy the sights in the light parade does not mean your baby will.

It is not intentional on baby's part. He or she probably cannot take the noise or the lights. You need to get baby away from those situations, which means avoiding enclosed areas where you will have to stay until the end.

Watch for signs when baby is sleepy or over-stimulated, even at home. If your house usually has four people in it, but you have 35 for the holidays, it can be too much for a baby. You need to be prepared to leave the fun, even if you are enjoying yourself, and take baby to another room. Play quietly or rock for 15 minutes so that your baby can get back to having a good time, too.

The holidays are stressful for everyone, and baby is no exception. It is just your job as a parent to be sure that you take care of baby's needs first. Everyone else can fend for him or herself, but your baby needs you to help reduce the stress.

By Julia Mercer

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