You looked forward to your baby’s first holiday season. It was to be a magical time of picture perfect festivities. However, your little bundle of joy is wailing and clings to you with a steel grip when anyone tries to hold him. How will you survive a holiday gathering without a happy baby?

Breathe deeply and take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.  Others have experienced the same let down, exasperating experience.  Here’s some pointers on how to handle your baby’s crankiness without becoming a Scrooge of a parent:

Adjust Your Expectations – Be realistic in how you envision the event.  Even the happiest of babies get tired, hungry, or need a diaper change.  Of course, you can take a slightly negative thought and make it positive.  If you expect your child to be cranky, you will be pleasantly surprised when he is not.

Shorten Your Visit – A few hours at a friend’s house may seem like a brief visit to you, but your baby may have another opinion.  In a 4-hour span of time; depending on the age of your infant, a baby could nurse or take a bottle more than one time, have one or two diaper changes, and even take a nap.

Bring on the Ear Plugs – No, not really … but, the noise of several people talking, or even background music, may overwhelm your little one.  If the noise upsets your baby, try to graciously make your way to a quieter room.  Or, excuse yourself to give your baby a break for just a moment in a quiet nook.

Dress Your Child in Comfortable Clothing – You have visions of showing off your new little one in the fanciest dress or most adorable holiday outfit.  Keep in mind that if your baby is uncomfortable, she will most likely let you know.  Consider the comfort when dressing your baby.  There are plenty of adorable 100% cotton or soft outfits available.  You might also want to dress a little cooler and comfy yourself, because you may be accessorizing your arms with a heavy, screaming, upset infant for the duration of your holiday visits.

Pack Your Bags – Make sure you include some of your baby’s favorite toys in a diaper bag, along with a change of clothing, a few diapers, wet wipes, an extra bottle (if applicable) or non-messy snacks (if the infant is eating finger foods).  This sounds obvious, but learning how to pack a diaper bag properly is a skill they don’t teach in college.

Don’t Panic – Remember that when your baby starts to fuss, something triggers your nerves.  You go into mommy mode of trying to immediately meet your child’s need.  However, your friends and family members may not think twice of your baby’s tears.  Unless your baby is breaking the sound barrier with shouts of protest, others may not even notice the sounds that are causing you to come unglued.

Relax – If you are stressed about the gathering, your baby will sense it and most likely become crankier.  So, breathe in and breathe out.  Then, do your best to downplay the crankiness.

RSVP – If all else fails, come up with an excuse as to why you can’t make it to the party.  And, send a nice picture of your new arrival.

When it’s all said and done, whether you have a cranky baby or the cherub that everyone is passing around the room oohing and awing over, it will still be a time to embrace and look back at. These are memories you cannot recapture once they’re gone.  You might even want to break out the camera and take some realistic holiday photos for your scrap book, or to save to show at your child’s wedding.  Most of all, enjoy your holidays with your cranky baby.