Visions of sugarplums make us think of the holidays as children's celebrations. Indeed they are, but it may be helpful to think of them from a 1-year-old's perspective. Your child is now on the borderline between babyhood and childhood -she is not yet able to regulate her emotions and cope on her own with the excitement and fatigue the holidays can bring. This doesn't mean you have to trade in your jingle bells for a Grinch suit, however. Small adjustments in your family's routine may be all that's necessary to help your child take the holidays more or less in stride.
The greatest holiday pitfall for your child is overstimulation: Too much of a good thing is an almost sure bet this time of year. Whether your youngster finds this season's celebrations overwhelming depends a lot on her temperament.
You are the best judge of how much your child can happily handle. If her good humor depends on her having a nap at 2 p.m., don't go out to buy a Christmas tree at 1:30 and expect smooth sailing. If your child is easily overwhelmed, ask family members invited for a celebration to arrive a few at a time, rather than all at once. You are the holiday gatekeeper. Structuring your plans and setting limits for yourself and the rest of the family will result in a celebration that your 1-year-old can enjoy.
Help your child stick to her regular eating and sleeping patterns as much as possible during this busy season. Compensate for occasional holiday goodies by giving her simple, nutritious meals at her usual mealtimes. Make sure that your child gets all the sleep she is accustomed to having, and on a normal schedule. If your child attends daycare or has a regular babysitter, stick to that routine, too.
Inevitably, your child will become overstressed at some point during the holidays. Follow these suggestions for unruffling your worked-up 1-year-old: