Hey Mommies! The holidays can be so much fun for kids with getting to see family members, playing with cousins, getting presents, etc. But, they can be a very stressful time for babies and toddlers.
The typical routines your child is used to can be completely messed up. Naps are often missed or taken in unfamiliar places. Lots of people are around and in your child’s face, possibly people your child rarely sees. Bedtimes often become late, and so on.
In preparation for all of this, I wanted to share some tips for….
How to Make Holidays Easier with Babies and Toddlers
This is often difficult, but try to keep routines as close to normal as possible.
If your child is used to eating at a particular time, try feeding them at that time, or at least offering a snack, even if it isn’t when everyone else eats.
If your child naps at a particular time of day, try to plan for nap at that same time, whether the nap takes place at home or at someone else’s house.
If you’re driving between multiple places, see if it’s possible to travel during nap time so your child can get a bit of sleep on the car ride.
If it’s not possible to travel during nap times, bringing a pack n play and setting it up in a spare room can work great for naps for even bed time. When my son was a baby, we even brought along his white noise machine to help replicate his sleeping environment.
Try to stay as close to a normal bed time as possible. If you’ll be out, you can use the pack n play to lay your child down in another room so you can visit longer and your child can start to rest. Then just transition to the car when it’s time to leave.
If you will be laying your child down for bed, try to follow your usual bedtime routine. You may have to improvise, but if your usual routine involves a bottle and story with mom, dad, or both, then try to follow that process before sleeping.
Bring pajamas if you’re going to be out late! Even if you don’t bring a pack n play or plan to lay your child down around their usual bed time, changing them into PJs can make it easier to go straight to bed when you get home.
If you’re going to someone else’s house or plan to be out the whole day, bring familiar objects. For example, some toys from home, maybe a blanket or lovey, or favorite book.
Whether you go out for the holidays or stay home, be sure to give your child some quiet time. Being with a large group of people and/or with people your child doesn’t usually see can get stressful and overwhelming. Your child may get over stimulated from all the commotion and may just need a few minutes of mommy/daddy alone time to recoup.
If your baby or toddler is starting to act out or get crabby, don’t get upset or yell at them. Just try taking them to another room for some quiet time. They may be having a hard time holding it together and may not be able to verbally tell you how they’re feeling.
Remember to put yourself in your child’s shoes. The holidays get hectic for everyone so remember to be patient and understanding with your baby or toddler and enjoy this time with them while it lasts!
By: Emily Bettis, MOT/L
Emily Bettis, MOT/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and mother. She has been working with children birth-5 since 2008 and has been a mother since 2013. Emily is the founder and author HeyMommies.com