Keeping Calm at Christmas

There are many studies that demonstrate and show the effects of stress in babies from a multitude of factors.  Everything from medical disease or dis-ease, lack of attention, food sensitivities, limited human interaction, and prolonged periods of hunger all can create highly stressful situations for a baby and young child.  Now that the holidays are here, it is important to consider your baby in the hustle and bustle and make provisions to assure their health (and yours) comes first.

Linda Folden Palmer, DC wrote a very in-depth article titled Stress in Infancy which explained the relationship between cortisol and stress.  The article stated that “occasional surges of cortisol throughout the day can be beneficial, but continuously elevated stress hormone levels in infancy from a stressful environment are associated with permanent ‘negative’ effects on brain development.”  Why is this significant?  Because when a baby’s system is in a prolonged or constant state of stress, it finds it hard to balance itself off or find peace both inside and out.  This can have a negative long-term effect of their brain development, growth, and even happiness.

Babies are very receptive to the world around them and they are especially receptive to their parents and caregivers.  You can never spoil an infant with too much attention or too much closeness and affection.  Babies need that to feel safe and at ease.   When they are at ease, they grow, flourish, and learn at much faster rates then when under extreme or constant distress.

So what is the best way to keep baby happy and cooing this holiday?  How do you work, entertain, do all of the family chores, and care for a baby all at once?  First of all, you must surrender to the fact that there is a little one in the home this year.  And with that, it is perfectly fine to consider dropping a few of the normal hustle and bustle activities for some easier ones that require less headache and stress.  It may even be a good time to consider your “why’s” and choose only the activities that make you and your family truly happy.  Just know your baby is counting on you for love, attention, and calm assurance that he or she is still the center of your world.  Until they are ready to and are capable of participating more, they need you to be with them where they are at.

Dr. Palmer cited that some nerve cells might be destroyed as a result of chronic stress and elevated hormone levels.  Continual exposure to this kind of anxiety can have certain long-term negative effects.  This should be reason enough to think up creative ways to enjoy a slower pace this year and revel in the new addition to your family.  After all, it is Christmas and Christmas is certainly a time for miracles, family, love and yes, even calm.

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