The New Parents Christmas Survival Guide – just for you.. A new baby at any time of the year can be tough, but a Christmas baby seems to bring additional pressure. Am I doing this right? Is she hungry, cold, hot, ill, unhappy? Why can’t I pacify her? What am I doing wrong?

These are very common concerns about your competency as a new parent and you are not alone! Ann Buckle, author of Help! I’m having a baby says many first-time parents are most worried about daily care of their baby, add the festive season to your concerns about coping and your blood pressure is sure to rise! Read on and take her advice!

The New Parents Christmas Survival Guide

Tips on bringing your baby home

It’s the big day! If you’ve had your baby in hospital, it is always a strange feeling knowing that now you are ‘on your own’ – in a manner of speaking. Hospital can be a very reassuring place but many women say they can also feel very lonely – especially at night when their partners go home. So they are pleased to be back in familiar surroundings particularly if it Christmas. This is also a very exciting time – you are beginning life together as a family.

Perhaps you will also be introducing your new addition to brothers and sisters at home. So if yours is a Christmas or New Year Baby you will of course have to try your best to make extra time and efforts to make sure that their ‘special’ Christmas is completely overshadowed by the new arrival.

Despite the traditions and family pressures that exist at this time -of year I would still try and keep some quiet time for you-your partner and of course the new baby. I don’t want to sound too restrictive but do remember as well that sudden noises-loud music-crackers- even crowds of family full of festive fun can all be rather too much for a very young baby. Bursting balloons or party poppers probably in fact make rather dangerously loud noises for new and very sensitive ears.

As it says on the cards-rejoice for the new arrival-and enjoy a very special Christmas – and remember from now on you’ll be shopping for birthday and Christmas presents for that Christmas baby.

  1. If you are going home by car, you will be required to put your baby in a car seat. Become familiar with the seat beforehand – it can be embarrassing trying to work it out in the car park!
  2. Try not to leave hospital too late in the day so that you have plenty of time to get settled at home before bedtime.
  3. Plan to have a simple or ready-prepared meal that evening so you can concentrate on the baby.
  4. Arrange a few visitor-free days so you have time to adjust to have your baby – with you- with no pressure to do anything at a set time. You, your partner and your baby will all benefit from the rest.
  5. Have someone lined up who you can call at any time for advice if you get absolutely desperate-remembering that at Christmas surgery or clinic hours may be restricted..
  6. Don’t be afraid – or too proud – to ask for help.
  7. If your partner cannot get time off work, make sure you have someone else with you to help around the house.
  8. For the next few days – and probably longer – don’t expect to do very much more than care for your baby-although if you also have older children their Christmas expectations will also need to be satisfied.
  9. Don’t forget that a midwife will usually call regularly until your baby is 10 days old, so make a note of any questions that occur to you.
  10. You will worry – everyone does – but you will be surprised how quickly you get to know your baby once you are home.

Ways to hold or handle a new baby

Simply handling a newborn baby can seem daunting at first, babies seem so delicate and fragile – much more than they really are! The most important thing to remember is that when you pick up and hold a very young baby, you must support the head and neck. Find the most comfortable position – make it as easy for yourself as possible. You’ll soon be used to it. There is more than one way to hold a baby and you will soon find out which position your baby likes best.

  1. Always support your baby’s head and neck when picking her up.
  2. You can hold the baby in many different ways according to age and circumstances.
  3. A newborn baby will usually like to nuzzle close to you.
  4. After feeding, keep your baby in an upright position – this will aid digestion.
  5. Sometimes, perhaps because of a windy or colicky tummy ache, babies may like to lie on their tummy, across your lap.
  6. As they become more aware of their surroundings, babies may like to be held in a forward-facing position.
  7. Avoid sudden and jerky movements as this makes small babies feel insecure and causes them to cry.
  8. Very often, some rocking movement will make a baby feel more relaxed.
  9. Keep some muslin squares or a cloth handy at all times – newborn babies are prone to ‘possetting’ (being slightly sick) at any time.
  10. Make your movements as definite and purposeful as you can, then your baby will feel safe.

Ways to soothe a crying baby

If your baby cries, the first assumption must be that he or she is hungry. Most newborn babies rarely cry for any other reason. If your baby is content just to be on your shoulder or in your arms then they simply wanted comforting. Very young babies cry for a reason and they are not mature enough to know that they could be spoiled. Some babies get a form of stomach ache called colic. Babies with colic draw up their knees and give a high-pitched cry.

The underlying cause of colic has not yet been found. If the amount of time your baby spends crying causes a problem, talk to your doctor or health visitor.

If babies cry:

  1. Pick them up and cuddle them.
  2. Rock them, holding them in different positions.
  3. Play some music – maybe familiar music from pregnancy, or womb music, or sing to them.
  4. Feed them and change their nappy.
  5. Use a baby sling, so they can be close to you while you do other things.
  6. Take them for a walk in the pram.
  7. Take them for a drive in the car.
  8. Get out to see other people – sometimes, if you are relaxed, your baby will relax and sleep more too.
  9. If crying is persistent and worrying, some believe in the value of alternative therapies such as cranial osteopathy. Your midwife and health visitor can give you details.

Tips on baby safety

The safety of your new baby is of course paramount. Very often hazards are obvious and this information is not meant to be patronising. It is simply like a checklist to reassure yourself that you are aware of and dealing with potential hazards – but of course there will always be more. Risks are there but you can do so much to minimise them. At Christmas time the number of potential dangers seem to multiply.

First of all be sure that new toys wrapping paper etc are not left around where you could easily slip or stumble – particularly of course on the stairs. Alcohol and babies don’t really go well together – from a care and safety perspective you need to keep your wits about you and alcohol may just affect your breast milk and thus the baby. If you have friends or family staying or helping our around the house it may have been some time since they had do deal with young babies so don’t forget to make them aware of the key items on the list below.

  1. Ensure that your baby sleeps safely by placing her on her back in the ‘feet-to-foot’ position.
  2. Safety with hot drinks – a cup of tea or coffee is still hot enough to cause serious burns to a baby 15 minutes after it has been made.
  3. Safe changing and bathing – never leave babies unattended as they might roll off furniture or slip under water. Make sure your baby is safe before answering the telephone.
  4. Car safety – put your baby in an approved car seat that has been fitted correctly, don’t simply use a carry cot or cradle or hold the baby in your arms.
  5. Good hygiene – wash your hands regularly and ask visitors to wash theirs before holding your baby.
  6. Safe cot – use a firm, well-fitting mattress. The bars should be smooth, secure and each bar not less than 25 mm (1 in) or more than 60 mm (2½ in) apart to avoid baby’s head becoming trapped.
  7. Cot safety – never leave anything with strings, such as bibs, or toys, in the cot in case it gets caught around the baby’s neck.
  8. Safe buying – all equipment you purchase should be sturdy and in proper working order. Take care when buying second-hand and – whether old or new – always look for the EU Safety Standard Mark.
  9. Sun safe – take extra care when out doors on sunny days as babies can easily overheat or burn. Apply high factor sun cream and keep them well shaded at all times.
  10. Stair safety – take care when carrying your baby up and down stairs. Wear sensible shoes, take your time and don’t leave objects on the stairs.