Bringing Your Newborn to the Holiday Party

Go ahead and RSVP “Yes” to that party or gathering this season.  While having a newborn is a great excuse to get out of getting dressed up and socializing, you don’t have to stay home.

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Most couples assume they either need to miss out on the party, or hire a babysitter to watch a very young new human while they spend a few hours out – typically worrying about their baby.  The best part of the newborn stage is that babies typically sleep, especially when being held.  Granted, they nurse around the clock and also cry, but when fed, are dry, and are being snuggled, newborns generally fall asleep.

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Photo: Moby Wrap

There are a few things to ease your mind about heading to that party with a little one in tow:
    • Know the Party: Do your research before arriving.  Is the party being held in a smoke-filled venue or at a concert hall with extremely loud music?  There are reasons to skip out, but if the environment is not toxic or harmful, then squeeze your postpartum rear into something semi-flattering and head out!
  • You Need a Carrier: A wrap or sling is a mandatory investment with infants, but you will learn just how amazing that sucker is when you wear your baby into a party. Keeping baby near your heart and in kissing distance from you will help her stay calm and happy throughout the night. Your hands are free to enjoy a glass of wine, use the bathroom, or even dance a bit.  This also reduces the chances of others touching your baby. Some will still try, but you can easily offer them a peak of baby’s head or hand and remind them “look, but don’t touch please.”
  • Dress Properly: This goes for you and baby. Of course you want to look the part of a hot-new-mom, and by all means – GO FOR IT!  However, you need to have easy access to your breasts for nursing.  Avoid anything that needs zipped up the back, is too tight to sit comfortably in, and cannot be worn with a bra and nursing pads.  Leaking breastmilk will not be why you want to leave the party.  Perhaps wear a shawl or scarf that can easily double as a nursing cover if you have not mastered the high-level confidence of nursing in public yet. If you are ridiculously Type A, you may even want your sling to coordinate with your choice of outfit for the evening.  (If this is you, welcome to the crazy world of “I NEED more baby carriers.”)  As for your newborn, do not stress over the perfect party outfit.  Chances are, she will need to be changed at least once while there.  Do dress her appropriately for the weather and party environment.  Layers are always your best bet, as you can take something off if needed.  Using a blanket is also a wonderful option while wearing baby.
  • Pack Enough: It’s ok to leave a spare bag in the car with extra burp cloths, diapers, clothes, and everything else. It’s also ok to bring it all in with you if it makes you feel better.  Try to keep it all contained in one bag though.  You’ll want a light blanket, change of clothing (or two), a ziplock or wet bag to throw dirty clothes into and eliminate any smells, of course plenty of diapers and wipes.  If you need anything for feeding baby or a lovey or binky, don’t leave those behind.   If the party venue allows, bring a stroller you can lay baby in if she falls into a deep enough sleep.  This does present the problem with strangers feeling compelled to touch and coo over her though, so skip the stroller if you can wear baby all night instead.
  • Have a Drink: HAVE TWO. Recent studies have shown that it is completely safe to have an adult beverage (or two) while breastfeeding.  This is not your cue to be dancing on the bar by 9:30pm, but if you are able to drive, you are able to nurse.  Don’t stress over those alcohol breastmilk tests either, they have been proven to not work time and time again. Let yourself relax and enjoy the event.
  • Tend to Baby: Your baby comes first.  You will have a wonderful time if you are catering to baby’s needs before she becomes fussy. Nurse or feed baby at the first sign of hunger, change diapers frequently, and seek out a quiet corner or hallway if needed to rock, soothe, or just talk to baby.  Keeping her close by babywearing will ensure that you can notice her cues quickly, don’t over look them.
  • Know when it is Time to Leave: You or your partner may not be ready to go, but baby is starting to get a bit fussy.  Listen to those cues and exit before you do so while crying along with baby.  Have a game plan before arriving about how to handle leaving quickly if need be.
  • Decompress Afterward: Give baby a warm bath and set the mood for a sweet night’s sleep with quiet music and a dark room.  Then you do the same!
Scared of germs and deadly diseases? Take a breath.  It pays to be extra careful for the first month — the younger your baby, the less time her immune system has had to strengthen. (That goes double for infants born prematurely or with other health concerns.) That being said, you do not need to stress over these fears.  Wash your hands when needed and don’t hand baby off to anyone other than your partner just to be safe.  Ask others to kiss baby’s belly or feet instead of the face and hands if you are really nervous. No matter what you decide to do, make sure that you are comfortable with your decision.  No one but yourself can make you happy in this situation! So have fun and enjoy that adult beverage.  Happy Holidays!

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