Tips for Surviving the Festive Season with a Newborn or Young Baby

It's a good idea to babywear your newborn at Christmas

You’re making a list and checking it twice; deciding which gatherings are going to be intense or be nice. Santa Claus is coming to town.


While Christmas can be fun, joyous, and full of love and cheer, many of us find this time of year incredibly overwhelming. If you have a newborn or a young baby, you may be feeling that way especially, perhaps more than usual. That’s why it’s essential to remember the importance of boundaries – it’s one of your best tools as a parent. While family members and friends are almost always well meaning with their invitations, party ideas, and offers of advice, as the mother or father you get to decide what’s a priority for you, your pēpi, and your whānau. So, here are our tips for surviving this social season:

  • Prioritise rest – for both māmā and baby especially. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave parties early or arrive at a time that suits your little one’s nap schedule. Everyone has more fun when they’re well slept.
  • Most of us find the constant socialising a bit exhausting, let alone those of us who are sleep deprived, learning to breastfeed and still recovering from birth, so if it all feels like too much, decline the invitations that don’t serve you well this year.
  • If you’re asked to bring a plate, choose the easy option of buying something pre-made. Trust us, no one will mind nor notice.
  • Embrace babywearing with a wrap or carrier. There’s an endless list of benefits but most of all it’s a great way to protect your baby if you’re not comfortable with them being passed around.
  • Even if your baby isn’t in the wrap or they aren’t asleep, you certainly aren’t obliged to let anyone hold your baby if you don’t want them to – you can simply say, “No cuddles right now sorry, they need to take a nap,” or “Thanks for offering to take him/her but we’re okay right now.”
  • Likewise, if your baby is being cuddled by someone and they start to fuss, rather than letting your relative “help” take baby back to settle them.
  • Feed your pēpi where you feel most comfortable, whether that’s amongst the action at the Christmas party or in a more private, quiet room – the choice is entirely yours.
  • Stay hydrated. It’s generally recommended that breastfeeding people have 10 cups or 2-3 litres of water per day. A good guide is to drink to thirst.
  • Know that you’ll probably be questioned about your baby’s sleep. You might hear, “How’s your baby sleeping?” or “Are they sleeping through the night yet?” or “Are they a good baby?” Unfortunately, these queries are often followed by unsolicited advice. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to engage in that type of conversation if you don’t want to. Kiwi doctor and mum-of-three, Dr Heath Johnston has some great tips for what to say in this situation – and many others – on her Instagram post here.

The Ministry of Health advises that breastfeeding people are alcohol-free, especially for the first month after birth, as alcohol can pass into your breast milk. However, if you choose to have a drink or two this Christmas, you can minimise the risk to your baby by waiting to breastfeed at least 2-3 hours afterwards for every standard drink you have had. This allows the alcohol to clear from your breast milk.