Posted by: Roseann Murphy | November 30, 2010

Parenting During the Holidays

Parenting During the Holidays

Having a new born changes everything in the dynamic of a family and day to day life. When raising  an infant it is important to be patient, let them grow and learn at their own pace and establish consistency and continuity with their everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, bathing and playing. However, with the holiday season approaching, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain the routines, and sometimes we might feel that we have to compromise some of the needs of the infant to get through the stressful season. This does not have to be the case, and the most important thing to remember is to have clear communication and be dedicated to maintain the continuity of day to day activities the best that you can.

During the holidays with relatives, travel plans and general stress the environment of an infant will be affected with many different changes. It is hard and unreasonable to expect nothing to change for the child when clearly our own life and routines change. One of the most important ways to help and infant adapt and know what to expect is to very clearly communicate with them what the changes are and how they will be affected. For example, if you are traveling or visiting relatives, you might want to tell the child, “We are going to be eating at your aunts house today, I know it’s different, but I am here to help you.” Maintaining this level of communication with all the daily activities of a child will reassure them that while their immediate environment is changing, they still can have the level of comfort and security doing their daily routines as when they are in their home in their own environment.

Keeping open communication is also key with your family and friends and whoever you might encounter during the weekend. Different people have different philosophies on raising a child, some friends and relatives might share your way of parenting, while others might come from the “ throw the baby in the air” school of parenting. During the holidays it is important to let your family and friends know beforehand verbally, and by example, in the way that you treat your child, what kind of interaction is appropriate, or not, for you as their parent. Usually, when there is a new baby in the family, everyone wants to touch, hold and play with them. There is a time honored tradition that is called “pass around the baby.” While this is often seen as a way to introduce the child to the loved ones it is important to look at the perspective of the infant. If the child has never met someone before, regardless of who they are in your life, to the child they are a complete stranger who looks different, sounds different, smells different and is completely different to who they interact with in their every day life. For this reason it’s important to clearly and kindly inform your relatives that you would rather give the baby time to know them from their comfortable position in their own time. Allowing the child to be in a comfortable position with your presence, they will be able to observe your interaction with your relatives and you will model for the child your love for your relatives without putting them in the arms of a stranger.

At the end of the day as long as you are keeping the interest of the infant first you will be okay. Of course, inevitably one relative will try to break the kissing record on your babies face, or another may show up with a loud shaker of some kind, if something like this happens don’t worry, it won’t make or break your child’s chance of getting into Harvard, but it will help to let them know what just happened, “Your aunt loves you and she shows it by kissing you…a lot.”

Post by, Magdalena Palencia


  1. Magdalena, thank you for such a helpful and timely post! The parents in the infant classes at RIE will be sharing their Thanksgiving adventures with me this Friday. Some have already mentioned over-stimulating experiences the relatives. Oh, well. As you say, it’s always best to at least keep our babies abreast of the situation!


  2. And I LOVE the photo, by the way!


  3. Wonderful article, Magdalena. I have waited a long time to see this in print. The essence of the article speaks to both the parents and the children during the holiday time. Your insight will make many of those little stressful moments easier to deal with!! Thank you so much!!


  4. Thanks for posting this for all those new mothers out there who will feel overwhelmed and pressured to hand their baby off to strangers during the holidays. Wonderful article!!


    • Patt, thank you! Hopefully there will be less stressed out parents this year.


  5. Magdalena, THis is Ed Murphy. Your article is fantastic!


  6. This is beautifully written and very helpful. And fits exactly our situation. My parents are going to be over for Christmas and they already mentioned stuff like “Well if you won’t help him learning how to crawl wait till we are there…”.

    And especially when routines change in the stress I tend to forget the most important thing: the communication. This will help me remember.
    Thank you !!!


    • Nadine, It seems that everybody has something to say when a new baby is born. We should listen to the child.
      Thank you for your comment


  7. Mom! I’m so excited about your first post;excellent article. Thank you for not perscribing to the “throw the baby in the air” school of thought! I love you!!


  8. What a good article! It’s too true that we often take our kids along on the Christmas Roller Coaster without really thinking about how stressful it will be for them! Even though my children are much older now, they still get stressed out when we go to the large family parties where they know only a few people. Thank you for addressing this issue!!


    • Joanna, you are so right. This type of stress during the holidays affects us all on different levels. Being respectful of one another’s tolerance level makes the holidays more enjoyable. Magda Gerber’s philosophy definitely spans all ages.


  9. Thank you for reminding us to try to take the point of view of the baby when it comes to the holidays. And thanks for all of the good ideas about how to make this busy time less stressful for little ones.Finally thank you for these words, “Your aunt loves you, and she shows it by kissing you…a lot.” What a lovely way to let baby know what’s happening, without starting a family feud! The reality for many families is that as much as they may show respect for their baby, they may not be able, or willing to stop over eager, and well meaning relatives from showering baby with affection. In cases like that, it is helpful to remember to talk to baby!


  10. Thank you Lisa for your encouraging comments!


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