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It's November. Halloween has just gone, and here I am, already talking about Christmas. But I'm not talking about all the usual preparations, such as presents, menu, decorations (which, nonetheless, is a lovely way to give space to the creativity of every family member). What I'm focusing on are the useful resources for those who have recently become mother and father, and who are going to spend their first Christmas with their baby and possibly with the whole family. And I think it's better to start to think about it a bit in advance.

Christmas time has very peculiar and extraordinary characteristics. People love Christmas or hate it. Christmas can bring joy and excitement as anxiety and nervousness. This set of emotions can create an electric atmosphere, whether it's pleasant or unpleasant.

The hunt for the perfect present begins, we start planning trips to see distant relatives or we welcome them in our house, we prepare delicious menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and why not, even the 26th. Or we start thinking about what our grandma, our aunt, our mother are going to cook for us, and we get a bit worried for how much food we are going to eat. Then there are the decorations, the Christmas Tree, the Nativity, garlands, lights…

Well, I'm a grown up and I definitely love Christmas, but still, if I put all these elements in a row, I must admit I feel a bit under pressure.

How do you think a newborn or a little child may live all this?

Let's not make the mistake to assume that a newborn is not an active subject of this situation, just because she can't speak or move by herself.

Remember! Baby brains mass increases 340% in her fist three years of life! So, considered this, think how receptive a newborn baby can be!

EVERYTHING might represent a stimulus or a trigger to a baby and therefore, might cause a reaction, which might not be immediate, but for sure, it's present and alive.

Christmas colours, the amazing and attractive lights, people entering and leaving our house, or our family going in and out from shops (and malls!), or grandparents, aunts, friends houses: all stimulus.

And how can a baby, who is exposed to this endless series of extraordinary stimulus (meaning out of her daily routine), protect herself, when she's overloaded? Easy, she can't. Well, she can't do it by herself. What a baby can do, with her own resources, event if she's a newborn, is to communicate that she's fed up, game over. How does she do it? She cries. But the tricky point is that if she's reached this level, she's already very stressed and tired, so calming her and relaxing her is going to be harder. Even for us as adults calming down when we're angry or stressed is difficult, so imagine how hard can this be for a few weeks or months old baby, who still has to learn how to deal with her emotions.

So what? Do we have to face the sad truth of our Christmas Holiday spent with a screaming and crying baby? Of course not! I said she can't protect by herself, but you, her mom and dad can take care of her also from this point of view.

If you think about your baby daily routine, you might have noticed that your baby might be more sensitive to some specific sounds or noises, or images, or even people. She might cry at the first sight of your aunt and at the same time, she might delight Uncle Giuseppe, with the most complete set of smiles!

Or you might have noticed that if you go out for a nice walk in the morning, then your baby sleeps in no time in the afternoon, but if you go out in the afternoon, than when the time comes to go to sleep in the evening, your baby is more than awake! I'm talking about possible examples, not absolute truth. What I want to focus on is that, with babies, daily routine is useful, because it helps them to know and trust this crazy life out of the womb, it helps them building some fixed points.

I'm not saying that you have to adopt a military schedule for every activity. Instead, I'd like you to see that if you observe your babies, according to their temperament and their needs, you might create a positive routine for them and for the entire family.

Still, by observing our babies we can realize that before reaching the maximum stress level, she will show early and intermediate signs of uneasiness, meaning “hey, mom, dad, I feel quiet uncomfortable here!”, and that's where we can intervene, in a sweet but efficient way!

Christmas time is an extraordinary moment, which pulls us out from our daily routine and sometimes from our comfort zone. What we can do is an evaluation of which passages of our routine we'll be able to maintain, because it's possible to do that, which passages we definitely need to maintain, because they are fundamental to assure our baby and our serenity, and which we'll have to transform, because there are not the conditions to act as we usually do.

In this way we will also be able to define some delicate but firm boundaries with the friends and relatives we are going to spend Christmas with, in order to prevent stressful moments or disappointments.

Let's have a practical example!

I'm a mom and my baby is two month old. We are going to spend Christmas Eve at home, and me and mom are going to cook for my husband family and my own. Then we're spending Christmas day at Aunt Carla's house. I haven't been seeing her for a couple of years, and she looks forward to see my baby, because she couldn't come to see us right after birth. My whole family will be there, including my father's family, so aunts, uncles, their daughters and sons and uncountable nephews and grandchildren. On the 26th, my mother in law has invited us for lunch.

My baby normally takes a morning and an afternoon nap. In the evening he has to sleep by 10 p.m. or he will keep us awake for the entire night. He doesn't like persistent perfumes and thick wool jumpers, like the ones Uncle Luigi always wears.

This is a common setting for a typical Italian Christmas.

What do we do? For example on Christmas Eve we might have dinner a bit earlier than usual and we might even unwrap the presents earlier than midnight. In this way by ten, I'll be able to go for a while in our room to make my baby sleep and rejoin the family right after. About Christmas Day, I might inform in advance Aunt Carla that after lunch, I'll go breastfeed in a silent room (I'd love some privacy) to allow my baby to have some rest. This might happen even after Santa coming to deliver the presents, so we can have a delightful moment all together, before I leave for a while. I could also propose Uncle Luigi to hold the baby together with his soft blanket, and everyone should be happy!

The 26th: after two days of intense lunches and dinners, parties, and good company, my baby might get easily nervous, even my partner and me might really not need a big lunch. So, we could ask grandma to cook something tasty, but light and that we need some lovely time together, more than big party time.

This is just an example, and what I mean is that your baby is your instruction manual. You just have to observe her and take your time to learn how to read her. Your baby will let you know her needs.

And the other focus point, which I hope is going to be useful, is that knowing yours and your baby needs, you might displace your resources in advance, to face all those particular situations which might happen during Christmas time. And the most important aspect is that you will be able to do that, without stress, without disappointing anyone, but involving family and friends who are looking forward to see you and your baby, sharing with them this Christmas experience with respect and kindness.