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Your first holiday season with baby: setting boundaries, leaving space for joy

Updated: Feb 15

The holiday season is an exciting time for families with new little ones. Yet, we know the season can also bring challenges and added stress. New parents are faced with even more pressures and demands, as well as the daunting task of discovering where their new boundaries are.

Balancing the excitement of festivities with the needs of a newborn can be tricky. Does your brother insist on serving a meal right at the baby’s nap time? Has your mother-in-law made several comments already about how little breastmilk the baby is getting? I get it. It can feel like a lot.

Thoughtful planning and a flexible mindset can help. This guide offers tips for setting boundaries during your baby’s first holiday season while still finding space for joy.

Your first holiday season with baby: setting boundaries, leaving space for joy

Set Realistic Expectations 🌈:

With a newborn to care for, setting realistic expectations is essential. It may not be in your family’s best interest to attend every holiday event this year. And that's 100% okay.

Choose a few key events or traditions that are most meaningful to you. It's okay to scale back on other commitments. Your loved ones will understand.

Plan Around the Baby's Schedule⏰:

Babies thrive on routine, so plan holiday activities around their schedule. When possible, schedule outings during their most alert and content periods, and be prepared to adjust plans if they need to nap or feed.

Friends and family members might need some education on this. It’s a good idea to reach out before the event to explain your time constraints and let your loved ones know you may need to leave early or arrive late, depending on the baby’s needs that day.

Communicate your Boundaries 🚧:

It’s okay to say no. Your baby’s needs come first.

Do you prefer a private space for breastfeeding? Do relatives need to wash their hands before holding the baby? Does Grandma need another reminder that the baby doesn’t need “just a taste” of sugar cookies? It’s all okay. And it’s all up to you.

Communicate your boundaries clearly and respectfully. Most loved ones will appreciate your honesty and be understanding.

Be Mindful of Stimuli 😎:

Many holiday events can be sensory overload for babies. Think bright lights, loud noises, and crowded spaces. Bring ear protection for your baby if needed, and try to locate a calm space when things get too hectic.

Create Baby-Friendly Traditions 🎨:

Start building new family traditions with your baby. Whether it's wearing matching onesies for a photo or making an ornament together, these activities will become cherished memories.

I recommend starting small. Year after year, the most straightforward traditions will be the easiest to maintain.

Schedule in “Me Time” 🌟:

The holidays can be overwhelming, even without a newborn. When considering your holiday planning, remember to book in self-care. You deserve it – you do! The better you care for yourself, the better you can care for your baby.

Self-care looks different for everyone. For some, it means hot baths and soft music. For others, it’s a concert with friends. Work within your budget (and physical abilities) and do what makes YOU feel good, healthy, and rejuvenated.

Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Permit yourself to make space for your health and healing.

Utilize Support Systems 👫👭:

Lean on your support systems, especially during the holiday season. Enlist the help of friends, family members, and postpartum doulas to assist with childcare, meal preparation, and simple household tasks.

It’s always okay to ask for help. Especially in the early days, weeks, and months of new parenthood.

Setting boundaries during the holidays allows you to find balance and make space for moments that matter the most. Try to enjoy this magical time, take tons of pics, and savor those first-time moments.

If you need extra support with your newborn this holiday season, contact me or one of the other postpartum doulas on my Parent Resources List.

Happy holidays! 🎅✨


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