Holiday Stress: Keep Baby From Being Overstimulatedby Katlyn Joy | November 28, 2011
From Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's, the holiday season is full of magic and fun. Nothing is greater than watching your child enjoy all the sights and sounds of the holidays. However, there is a fine line between fun and being overwhelmed. Maintaining a good balance for your child will make the difference between a Merry Christmas and miserable one.
First of all, protect yourself from becoming overwhelmed during the chaos of the year. Learn to say no to unimportant pressures without guilt. You can't please everyone or be everywhere.
Be sure you eat healthy, exercise and especially get plenty of good rest. Running yourself ragged will result in a impatience with your child. Even if you manage to be well tempered, if you are not taking proper care of yourself the resulting stress can be felt by your little one.
Tips for Protecting Babies from Holiday Stress
Maintain a regular schedule. With parties, visitors and programs it can be easy to lose a firm hold on ones schedule. Politely excuse yourself from commitments that extend beyond your child's bedtime. While the occasional stretching past the normal bedtime may not hurt much, too many nights that end too late will catch up to the entire family.
Watch your child's diet and your own. If your baby if off the bottle and on table food, be extra careful with loading plates with foods that may cause allergies or that your child may be sensitive to. Especially be careful of well meaning relatives who want to spoil your child with sugary treats. If you are nursing, you need to watch out for foods that make your baby gassy and watch out for holiday imbibing.
Keep visitors to a manageable level for your baby. If you are used to a holiday season parade of visitors you may need to cut back on your socializing for a few years. Your little one may be sensitive to all the commotion or in the case of introverted personalities, just all the socializing in general. Consider having one party at your home and having a familiar sitter on hand to take baby to a quiet corner of the house to get away from it all when needed.
Don't rely on holiday movies and TV shows to occupy your older baby or toddler. Too much entertainment of a passive nature is bound to lead to energy issues which then lead to behavioral ones. Make sure your little one gets fresh air and exercise every day.
Protect your baby's space. Don't let visitor's children have access to every toy and precious belonging of your baby. Your child can certainly share, but put up favorite toys to avoid melt-downs.
Let your baby decide who he want to be held by and how much attention is OK. Of course relatives cannot wait to get their hands on your adorable child, but don't let your baby suffer in order to placate others. Let visitors know your baby needs time to warm up, especially if they are in the throes of stranger anxiety. Hold your child while the visitors arrive and introduce them. Let your child take the lead in interaction.
Never force a child to participate in any holiday tradition. Sure every child in your family got their picture taken with Santa at age two but your child is terrified of men with beards, even those with a jolly laugh and a bagful of toys. Don't make your baby do anything that is uncomfortable or frightening. It's OK to give your little one an out on any activity that for whatever reason is just overwhelming to her.
Keep it all low-key. Sometimes we can build up the holidays as the ultimate measurement of family happiness. This can lead to stress for all family members, from Grandma to gurgling newborn. Remember family traditions are not rigid requirements. The goal is making happy memories, and if you feel you are a slave to any of them, the memory will be tainted at best. Keep a positive outlook, prepare and organize, but remain relaxed and flexible as much as possible. Things will go wrong. It's inevitable. However, you will survive and better yet, laugh and chill out. The holidays are supposed to be happy.
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