11 Real-Mom Tips For Making Baby’s First Thanksgiving The Stuff of Memories

Introducing your new addition to your family over Thanksgiving? Here's how to make the most of it without losing your new mommy marbles.

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There's no greater "first" holiday to experience with your little one than a celebration completely devoted to giving thanks. After all, your list of things to be thankful for this year is probably at an all-time high. But along with the excitement and anticipation comes a great deal of stress and pressure. Get ready for the holidays with these family-party pointers from real moms who've been there.

Pay little-to-no attention to unsolicited advice.

"Friends and relatives will be full of tips and suggestions for you, but remember: every baby's different. Someone else's experience is not necessarily going to be your experience. Hearing other people's perspective can be helpful, but don't let the comparisons and blatant warnings cause you to doubt your own parenting skills. Enjoy the holiday, but remember you're in charge!" —Cara Maksimow

Don't focus on having the "perfect" first holiday.

"Things are going to happen that we can't control. I was so frazzled because our bedtime schedule wasn't going as planned, dinner ran late, the turkey wasn't done, etc. I was missing out on quality time with my daughter because I was so focused on what wasn't going 'as planned.' Take time to be present in the moment because that's what you'll remember." —Erica Hornthal

Decide with your partner how you want to celebrate.

"As parents, you and only you (not even the grandparents!) get to decide what kind of holiday you wish to create for your new family. Weeks before, set aside time to talk to your partner about what you want to do. Together, set your boundaries. Tell relatives, 'We love you and enjoy getting together for Thanksgiving, but this year we're going to XYZ.' Be cheerful and enthusiastic about what you can do. Maybe it's Skyping instead of driving 12 hours in a snowstorm, or coming for dinner but not staying overnight."—Lesley Yadon

Let people help you!

"If a relative offers to hold your baby so you can eat, let her! If she offers to watch her so you can enjoy a glass of wine with your husband, do it! I was so worried about bothering other people with the burden of a newborn that I ended up eating a cold meal hours after everyone else was done. It sucked!—Denielle Kennett

Pack even the things you think you might not need.

"Almost every year, my husband and I travel with our children by car to his hometown. One year I mistakenly packed for the weather in my city, not thinking that a three-hour car ride was going to make a difference. Boy, was I wrong! We drove directly to the nearest Walmart to stock up on holiday clothing. One minute of research could have saved me $50. Never again."—Jasmine A. Edwards

Trust your intuition as a parent.

"My son Gus was born premature and spent two weeks in the NICU. Coming home, he only weighed four pounds, so we took a timeout from big family gatherings and instead had a small celebration at home with a few close family members. I was nervous to let the rest of the family know we wouldn't be traveling for the holiday, but keeping our baby safe from the possibility of illness was our top priority." —Rachel Romoff

Wear nursing-friendly clothes.

"There's nothing worse than not being able to access your breast when your baby is screaming for food. If you're on a plane, for example, you can easily nurse your baby in your seat. On a car trip, you'll have to pull over, of course, but as long as you're dressed in clothes that allow for breastfeeding, you'll be fine." —Melanie Herschorn

Cook baby's food ahead of time.

"Especially if you're a regimented mom who wants to control exactly what your baby eats, be sure to pre-make purees ahead of time. Thanksgiving appetizers and dishes have all sorts of excess sugars, dressings and additives that your baby may or may not have already been exposed to, which can affect them (aka food allergies)." —Brooke Taylor

Bring sanitizer for everyone holding your baby.

"Babies' immune systems are still getting strong their first year and the number one way germs and infection spread is through hands. Since no one can resist squeezing a baby's cheeks as soon as they lay eyes on them, have hand sanitizer accessible for everyone to use. My baby was five months old for his first Thanksgiving, so it was the first time he was exposed to that many people at once. Between being overwhelmed with taking a young infant to such an event and knowing all the people he'd be meeting, we wanted to make sure we didn't leave with unwanted germs that could make him sick!"—Skyler Gardner

Spread out seeing both sides of the family.

"Everyone will want to see your baby on her first Thanksgiving. If you can't fit in both sides of the family in one afternoon, try a breakfast or a 'second Thanksgiving' on a separate day. Sometimes quality visits are better than a stressful and rushed day-of appearance! And don't sign yourself up to bring a main dish. You are bringing the baby—that should suffice." —Stephanie Walsh

Remind family members not to take "stranger danger" personally.

"This may be especially hard for family members who don't see your baby often, like those who live far away. But let them know stranger danger will ease up. If your baby is showing signs of fright, like turning his head away, the initial reaction may be to bring him closer, like placing him on a family member's lap. But this may make things worse and make him even more frightened. To help, we gave these family members our child's favorite snacks to feed him and asked them to let him approach them on his own time." —Roxanne Lee

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