5 Ways to survive the festive season with a newborn

5 Ways to survive the festive season with a newborn
5 Ways to survive the festive season with a newborn. Image source: Unsplash

If you’ve welcomed a newborn into the world, this coming festive season will look very different to how it did pre-kids. For starters, there’s more pride, more love and more reason to celebrate thanks to your bundle of joy. But with the constant feeding, burping and sleep cycle, it may also be dawning on you that these holidays won’t be as relaxing as they used to be. To help you adjust to this new reality, here are six ways to get through your first festive season with a newborn:

  1. Lower your expectations. Resist the need to have a ‘perfect’ first holiday or Christmas with a newborn: the reality is that your new baby will take the bulk of your energy. Once you’ve accepted this, adjust your expectations accordingly, whether that means scaling back on your usually elaborate gift wrapping or table decor, buying the odd store-bought meal instead of cooking everything from scratch, or skipping every single celebration you usually attend. This doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love about this time of year – it simply means being more selective so that you can make life easier for yourself while you’re short on time, sleep and energy.
  2. Be ok with staying home. While you may usually go away at this time of year, travelling with a newborn can be more upheaval than it’s worth. Besides all the extra paraphernalia you need to bring with you, your baby’s regular feeding and nap schedule may mean that you need to swap days on the beach with days spent indoors and alone. Because of this, staying at home may be the less stressful option than trying to ambitiously recreate the holidays you had pre-kids.
  3. Try avoid overstimulation. The busy festive season can lead to your baby being overstimulated, which in turn can mean increased fussiness and more trouble getting them to settle and sleep. Keep this in mind if you’re out socialising, especially for the last hour that they’re awake. Do whatever you need to keep your baby calm during this time, such as using a muslin to block out light and distractions, or installing a white noise app on your phone. Babies need downtime and a regular rhythm to cope with the day, and it’s up to you to help them do this.
  4. Keep your post-partum appointments. South Africa seems to shut down after mid- December, so make sure to arrange your paediatric and post-partum appointments around this. It may be tempting to skip them, but your physical and mental health should be a priority now. Also ensure that you have a plan for emergency contacts during the holidays should you or your baby need medical help. If you belong to a medical aid, you may be able to get extra support through them. Fedhealth, for example, offers a free 24-hour Nurse Line for all its members, where experienced nursing staff can answer any questions you may have if you’re worried about your baby.
  5. Ask for help. While the holiday season can be overwhelming if you have relatives staying, on the plus side this can also mean extra sets of hands – for example by having someone watch the baby while you take a shower, or asking them to take the baby for a walk while you sneak in a nap. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate domestic chores if you can, such as getting others to do the grocery shop, prepare food or clean up.


While the newborn season can be challenging and those sleepless nights feel relentless, the important thing to realise is that it won’t last forever. Even a year from now you’ll have a robust toddler who can stay awake for many more hours of the day and is far more sociable. For now, embrace the magic of the festive season while doing it within your limits as a new parent. What you need is rest and connection, so allow yourself to do just that by embracing the stage you’re in.