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Turkey Tots: Make the Most of Baby’s First Thanksgiving

Photo @mrstbonnema

As the parent of a new baby, you have a new reason to give thanks this season. You may also have some qualms about toting your little one over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house for the big day. While babies up the cute factor for any holiday gathering, they can also usher in a new level of exhaustion and require gear you didn’t even think to bring. Here’s how to find joy as you celebrate Thanksgiving with your baby.

0-3 Months: Healthy holidays

Certain cultures dictate that new mothers and infants should stay indoors for up to three months to ward off illness and ensure good health. Turns out, this advice may not be so far off. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, babies born during or just before the winter months are more susceptible to viral illnesses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). 

Of course, skipping out on Thanksgiving dinner with relatives may not be an option. But new parents can help to ward off illness by limiting the number of people who hold their baby (perhaps to just grandparents), asking young children not to kiss baby’s face (ask them to blow kisses instead), and insisting that anyone who holds baby washes his or her hands first. Of course, parents should wash their hands frequently as well. 

Ask your pediatrician about giving your baby a probiotic supplement made especially for infants; probiotics can help bolster you baby’s budding immune system and provide extra peace of mind during cold and flu season.

4-8 Months: Gear guide

New parents rarely travel light, particularly around the holidays. If you’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in someone else’s home with a baby who’s beginning to eat solids, consider whether you’ll need to bring your own high chair, infant feeding spoons, and sippy cups for the meal. If your host has no small children, it’s likely their home won’t be baby-proofed, so ask whether you should bring a baby gate, play yard, and outlet plugs for a newly-mobile little one. 

Finally, you can help ensure a safe and happy celebration for humans and furry companions by asking if your host’s pets are comfortable around babies. On the big day, keep a close watch, as yours will be nearing the tail-pulling stage.

9-12 months: Separation savvy

Nothing puts a damper on a holiday dinner faster than baby rejecting his Grandpa’s embrace or shrieking whenever a parent moves more than a couple of feet away. By nine months of age, many babies are in the throes of separation anxiety, which isn’t always convenient when you’d like to circulate at a family gathering. 

And take note: The arrival of separation anxiety often coincides with the onset of stranger fear, so if it’s been awhile since baby saw Aunt Sally or Grandpa Lou, introductions may be tearful. Don’t force your child to hug or be held by others if it provokes tears; tell relatives that baby needs a few moments to warm up. Like the holiday months, this phase is temporary and passes before you know it. In the meantime, give thanks for extra snuggles from your almost-toddler this holiday.  

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Written by
Malia Jacobson

Malia Jacobson is an award-winning health and parenting journalist and mom of three. Her latest book is Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades.

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November 2019

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