Friday, November 03, 2006

Baby's First Christmas: Make It Memorable

For many people Christmas is "the most wonderful time of the year" but all the excitement and tradition may seem to be lost on the youngest member of the family. You may wonder if Baby can understand anything about gifts, or holidays, or even the huge green tree that is now sitting in the middle of the room, but children comprehend more than you may think. Even if Baby won't remember his or her earliest Christmases, you can still make them as enjoyable as you can. After all, it will be fun to sit with the child in a few years, with pictures in hand, and tell him or her all about what happened during childhood holiday seasons.

Christmas decorations are often bright and flashy; place eye-catching decor where Baby can see and delight in it, but not close enough to touch. If the child is walking, you may not want to use tinsel or garland if you think he might try to put it into his mouth or pull it all over the floor. The baby should always be supervised when he is near the Christmas tree, because not only can ornaments fall on him and cause a nasty bruise or cut, but they can break and thus give you more work as you attempt to clean up the mess. Let toddlers "help" you decorate the tree by handing him a decoration and showing him how to put it on a branch. Again, even if he's not able to lend an extra pair of hands, he will enjoy the interaction.

If you are wondering what to give Baby for Christmas that is both cute and practical, consider clothing of different kinds. Long-sleeved sweaters, pajamas, and coats for winter and short-sleeved outfits for spring are great choices, but you will want to buy bigger than Baby needs right now because it's for the year to come. Consider gift sets of baby food, soft toys, or educational toys depending on how old your baby is for the holidays. Younger babies will delight in toys, and toddlers can appreciate toys and games that make noise and have bright colors. The only problem comes if you don't know what other people may be buying for your child, and you don't want duplicates. Of course, extra cases of duplicate baby food wouldn't be all that bad. Be creative and remember to take the child's age into account when shopping for the perfect gifts.

Many agree that babies and young children like music, and a good choice would be cheery, bouncy music that lifts everyone's spirits. Play some spirited music when Baby is in the room and let him or her get used to the tunes. You may actually get some hand-clapping and smiles when he realizes everyone around him is in a good mood. You will want to keep in mind that, despite how much they may love excitement, most little ones get tired very easily around the holidays and you don't want to bombard their senses all at once. This probably depends on how old your child is; very young babies, especially, will need more naps and probably miss out on more of the fun.

Preparing Baby for a dinner or gift-giving session at friends' or relatives' homes can be tricky. If the child isn't used to many people running around, loud noises, and general chaos, you may want to keep him in a room where the noise will be minimal. Allow for some naps and quiet time if he gets overwhelmed, and make sure to bring a comfort toy if you think it will help. If holidays are stressful for everyone else, they will most certainly be stressful for Baby. If you let your child crawl or toddle around on the floor and get in on the action, watch out for pieces of tape, wrapping paper wads, and bows and ribbons. Babies love putting things into their mouths and it's always better to be safe than sorry.

You might want to keep albums, or at least take lots of pictures, of Baby's first few holidays. This way, when he or she is old enough to appreciate family stories, you can make the memories come alive again by having careful documentation of what happened when. I am a huge fan of scrapbooks; Christmas papers, lettering, and stickers abound, and you should have no trouble finding exactly what you need to scrapbook all Baby's holiday firsts.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer