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“Home for the Holidays” May Look A Little Different This Year

January 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Mia Armstrong 

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” (cue the music!).  Or is it?

For many of us, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years of our lives, and as we quickly approach the holiday season, it leaves us wondering how we can safely spend time with our families during the Covid-19 pandemic. Well, if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s showed us that we need connections with others now, MORE THAN EVER!

Courtesy of Unsplash

Gather ‘round the table

The end of the year is often filled with joy and memories as families gather together to celebrate various holidays. While this year in particular is going to look a little different, we can still make this holiday season memorable, for good reasons! For many, the holidays are filled with delicious smells and tastes as we share a family meal. While we may be tempted to feed the little ones separately from the adults, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) encourages us to make the holiday dinner an event for the whole family. Even infants can experience the sights and smells of a delicious dinner with fun dinnerware items like these from Ashima. Pull up a high chair (like this one from Nomi) to include your baby while the family enjoys the meal.

Mealtime with Baby 101

If you are given any mealtime baby items or furniture as gifts this season, please make sure to review the manufacturer’s website to ensure the item hasn’t been recalled. The manufacturer’s instructions will also provide helpful tips for disinfecting items to keep things as clean as possible. It is important to make sure any infant seats are at eye-level to ensure the baby makes good eye contact with family members. However, the high chair should be positioned at a safe distance away from the table to prevent a curious baby from accidentally touching glassware, utensils, or hot foods. Another safety precaution is making sure that the high chair restraints are secure to prevent accidental falls. By following these recommendations, and making sure your child is supervised, your family can safely enjoy mealtime.

Speaking of food… 

Now is the time many people indulge in decadent holiday favorites, both savory and sweet! Whether you plan to loosen your dietary restrictions (and your belt!) or stick with your health plan, it’s important to consider age-appropriate foods for your young child. Be sure to have foods that your baby loves, but keep a watchful eye to prevent choking hazards. Several child-safe plates and utensils are available to help your child feed themselves and partake in the holiday meal.

What about safety during the pandemic?

Unfortunately, the end of the Covid-19 pandemic is not in sight, so we must be sure to follow the recommended safety precautions during our family gatherings.  It’s important to stay up-to-date on health advisories from the Centers for Disease Control as well as your local health authorities. Try to limit the number of dinner guests as much as possible, keeping in mind that our loved ones can still call in to share the meal virtually with the rest of the family.  Also, if there will be guests from outside your immediate family circle, try to plan seating to maintain an appropriate 6-foot social distance whenever possible.  Likewise, don’t forget that masks are still recommended for all family members two years old and older.  Having an area for handwashing, or bottles of hand sanitizer nearby, will help everyone have clean hands before enjoying the delicious holiday meal.  Depending on the weather, outdoor seating during the meal will help reduce the risk of infection.  A crisp, cool day is always refreshing! And, the family will be in the perfect position to begin the traditional after-dinner football game.

The season of gratitude 

During the meal, take time to share favorite memories from past holidays, as well as focus on gratitude for the love within your family. Though your child may be too young to speak complete sentences, caregivers can still encourage young ones to give thanks by babbling or speaking their own sweet gibberish. This simple activity will encourage language development for your child. There are some great non-tech gift ideas to help engage your children while encouraging learning and language development. Though our lives have been consumed by virtual meetings and classes, holiday meals should be a time to shut down the devices. In between bites of stuffing, create new traditions and memories by teaching kids gratitude.

The New Normal

Though the holidays may look a little different this year, we must strive to maintain a sense of normalcy for the kiddos, while navigating the change of the times. For many adults, as well as children, this time of year can be emotionally challenging, and the addition of a pandemic just compounds that. It’s important to calm little ones’ fears, manage stress, and keep the peace at home. With a little planning this holiday season, families can still celebrate the many reasons we have to be grateful.

References:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/High-Chair-Safety-Tips.aspx

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/Pages/Buying-Furniture-and-Baby-Equipment.aspx

https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/accreditation/early-learning/clean_table.pdf

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/nutrition/Pages/Self-Feeding.aspx

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/language-delay.aspx

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Non-Tech-Holiday-Gift-Ideas-to-Promote-Kids-Language-Learning.aspx

About the author: Mia Armstrong, MD is a Board-Certified Pediatrician and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to her mother, she dreamed of becoming a Pediatrician since the age of three years old! She accomplished her goal by receiving her Medical Degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA. She completed her Pediatrics training in Jackson, MS at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Armstrong loves caring for children and teaching families how to be healthy! Though she enjoys working with children of all ages, she has a special interest in teaching new parents to care for their newborns and offering breastfeeding support as a Certified Lactation Counselor. Her other medical interests include asthma education, routine well care, and immunizations. She also enjoys traveling and exploring new cuisines and adventures. Dr. Armstrong loves to talk, never meets a stranger, and is excited to share her insight with parents everywhere through her blogs!

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.