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Even when your baby is very young, it is important to talk to them and introduce them to you and your life. When you are dressing a small baby you can talk about the baby gifts people have given. You can talk about how you are putting on the giraffe sleepsuit that Auntie May gave them. Or you can tell them how grandma gave them the rattle you are shaking and show them their photograph in the special photo frame that another relative or friend gave.
You will certainly have visitors from your family and friends and on these occasions you can tell your baby that here is Grandma or Auntie May and start to link the things you have been saying with the wider family.
A small baby won’t understand the words you are saying, but over time as you repeat the same ideas and names, these will become familiar to a baby and as they grow they will come to recognise the names and eventually be able to associate the name to the correct person. Everything you are doing with your new baby is introducing them to the world they live in and all the things you say and toys you use to play with your baby are teaching them about the world.
Having a basket or bag all ready with the things you will need immediately when your new baby is born will make life easier for you once you are home with the new arrival. Before the baby is due, see if you can get a wicker basket or a bag and put in it nappies and nappy bag, baby wipes, clothes and perhaps a soft towel to wrap the baby in. Then you will have these things to hand when you are home on your own and finding it all rather new. Having this already organised will make it easier for you to manage.
Some other preparations you can make are to have the cot or crib already made up and in a safe place in your bedroom and the baby’s bath ready for use. With all your preparations, make sure that you think of safety for your baby. It is a good idea to have everything ready a few weeks in advance as you may know the due date, but your baby may have other ideas. You will find that life is easier to manage if you have all the organising done before the baby is born, rather than once you arrive home with the new baby. You will probably receive many of the things you need through baby gifts from friends and family.
There is some indication that babies may react to music even before they are born, but you can certainly start introducing them to music once they have arrived. You don’t need to start them off with a full symphony orchestra and loud rock bands are certainly not a good idea, but there are varied ways you can introduce music from very early on.
A very popular new baby gift is a rattle. You will probably have one or two of these and you can use them to create new and different noises for your baby. You can make sounds that repeat the rattle’s rhythm so that your baby hears you using your voice in a new way. Even if you don’t usually think you have a good singing voice, there is no need to be bothered about it as this is just between you and your baby.
While you are bathing or changing your baby, you can sing nursery rhymes or other songs and move your baby in time to the music. As you hold your baby and listen to music you can sway your body and step in time to the music. Babies will learn about music and movement from your singing and actions.
When you get home with your newborn baby, you will very likely find that in the first couple of weeks they will lose some weight, whether they are breast or bottle fed. This is quite normal and your midwife or health visitor will be able to explain to you how much weight loss is usual and be able to reassure you about your baby.
You will probably have received some new baby gifts of clothes for your baby and if you are lucky will find that you have a selection of soft body suits, bootees and sleepwear. If your baby is small at birth, you will probably find that everything is too big, but once your baby puts back on the lost weight and then starts growing, you will find that the clothes soon fit and then are soon grown out of.
Wise and experienced friends and relatives will have given you some next size up clothes to allow for this and this gives you the pleasure of opening and using the new baby gifts as time goes on, so reminding yourself of the affection and support you have around you.
Bathing a new baby can seem quite daunting, so it’s a good idea to prepare yourself. The first thing to remember is that no baby or small child can ever be left alone, even for a second, in the bath and a small baby must have their head supported. You also have to be very careful about the temperature of the water and make sure it is not too hot for a baby. It is a good idea to run the cold water in first and then add the hot so you can be sure it isn’t too hot by mistake and always check the temperature before placing your baby in the bath, even if you think it is the correct heat.
This is where some of the new baby gifts you may have received from friends could be of help, as a bathtime set including soft towel, washcloth or sponge and possibly a thermometer will make it easier for you to get everything ready. Having all this to hand means you will not have to lift your baby out of the bath while you find something you have forgotten.
Like everything you are doing with your baby, be gentle and talk to them about what you are doing and how enjoyable it is. The baby will be reassured by your tone of voice and touch and will learn to enjoy bathtime.
Babies cry, it’s the natural way they have of communicating. For a new mother, the baby crying is probably one of the most stressful things to cope with, as it can make you feel that you just do not know what to do.
You can talk to your midwife and health visitor, who will have experience of new babies so will have advice to give you, and will be able to reassure you. There will however still be those uncomfortable moments when you are on your own and feel panicked by your baby crying.
One thing to remember is that, just like your new baby, you are learning all the time. You are learning to recognise the sounds of your baby’s cries, and will gradually, without realising it, come to know when it is a hungry cry, an uncomfortable cry, or most importantly, an unwell cry. So that as time goes on, you will know what your baby needs, whether it’s a feed, changing, or checking in case they are ill. You will learn from your baby what they like, how they like to be held, what comforts them best, whether they like to be talked to or just held quietly.
At the start, it feels so hard to know what to do, but allow yourself time for you and your baby to get to know each other.
Even from the first day, a new baby starts to know their mum and dad and to build a relationship with them. As you look after your new baby, everything you do is part of the relationship and the getting-to-know each other.
As you change a nappy, or put them to bed, you can be gently singing to your baby or talking about what you are doing.
If you have been lucky enough to be given some baby gifts like soft bootees or teddy for your new baby, then you can use these to gently stroke against your baby’s skin, and you will be able to see what their reaction is.
You and your baby will be communicating through your touch, and singing, and facial expressions, and as you talk, sing to and touch your new baby, so they will be learning that you are you, and beginning to know the sight, sound and smell of you. You will begin to make eye contact, and will find that your baby looks intently at you. It seems that babies can look at faces from very early on, and making eye contact with you builds their confidence. So, as you look after your new baby, there are lots of small ways for you to learn about each other.
When you are planning to have a baby, it seems as though it is impossible to ever know all the things you will need to get and to do.
There are lots of magazines and internet sites that you can look at to get ideas about what you will need. If you can of course talk to other new parents as well, to get an idea about what was useful to them. You will find out this way which items are really useful or enjoyable to have, and what advice they found most helpful.
Once you have a rough idea, start making a list of the things you want and have a look at internet sites to get an idea of what is available and prices. If you have relatives or friends who want to get a gift for baby, then they will be glad to know what you would like to have.
Having a baby is an expensive time and you will probably have to compromise on some of the things you would like, so don’t turn your nose up at hand-me-downs from friends. This will leave you with a bit more space in your budget for the necessary items, and for those not quite so necessary indulgent things that you really would like.
Any new baby who arrives this week has impeccable timing – just in time for Mothering Sunday.
So how about a celebration? A new baby gift basket for the new arrival? Or a bottle of something sparkling to toast the parents? It would also be lovely to take new mum and baby’s photographs as a gift to commemorate their first Mothering Sunday.
Even although it’s a special day, Sunday will still feel like the challenging and tiring day that most days with a new baby feel like, but it’s a day that you can choose to consciously allow yourself to relax and enjoy the new feeling of motherhood. If you have someone to help, then you may be able to organise your day so that you have some space and time to really unwind with a long scented bath, or to take it easy with a leisurely lunch, but even if you are on your own, you can prepare a part of the day to pamper yourself with some time to sit down and put your feet up with a good book, or something enjoyable on the television.
Either way, enjoy you first Mothering Sunday, it’s the first of many.
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Once the new baby has arrived, life suddenly becomes a rush, which is probably quite a contrast to the last few weeks, when everything seems to slow down. The nine months of pregnancy somehow manage at the same time to go on forever and to pass by in a flash, apart from those last few weeks, when everything seems to go into slow motion as the waiting becomes very real for mum and dad.
Then, once they are home again with the new baby, they discover what life at the double is really like. Friends and relatives will all want to visit to see the new baby and to bring their gifts for the baby and, if they are lucky, for the new parents as well. There will be lots of socialising and phone calls, and in the midst of all this, mum and dad have to learn to look after their new baby as well.
It’s easy with all this going on to think of the new baby and mum, but it’s a shame if the dad is forgotten – he too now has a completely new life and is finding his way around in this new situation.
So, when friends and relatives are visiting and giving gifts, remember dad too.
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