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Just at the point when a new mum may start to find that she is disappointed that she can’t keep her home as spotless as she would like, relatives and friends may have thought that they should stop visiting and give the new family some space to themselves. Of course, there is a lot of truth in this and it would be most thoughtless to keep interfering when not wanted, but it may be that there is something you could do to help.
Offering to help with the boring but necessary tasks of household work and shopping might be just what a new mum needs to restore her sense of comfort. It is easier and more pleasant to look after a baby in a home that feels ordered and fresh so this is something you could offer to help with, so that the mum can get on with spending time with her baby, or just taking a break so that she can regain some energy.
Most mums with babies find that they simply can’t fit everything in, and many find it hard to understand why, with all the time that should be available, but they are not taking into account how much hard work they are putting into the baby. Your help with some of the other jobs may be just what is needed.
Sometimes it can be easy to make the mistake of thinking that because you are at home full time with a baby, you should be able to keep your house spotless and perfect. After all, here you are with all the time in the world to do the housework and cleaning – no having to be out of the house by 8am to get to work and not getting home until 6pm when you are too tired to do anything except get a readymade meal and then slump in front of the television.
So why isn’t it working out as you expected? Instead of the perfect home, it may seem even worse than it did before. Well, there is one reason, it’s called a baby. You didn’t give up work to do the house cleaning, you did it to look after the new baby and babies take up a lot of time and attention. You are also on a steep learning curve as most people don’t have a great deal of experience of babies until they have their own, so there is a lot to learn in a short time.
So don’t worry if you see the dust accumulating, or realise that the painting and decorating didn’t get done. You are doing a far more important job in caring for a new human being.
One of the most interesting aspects of having a new baby is watching them grow through all the developmental stages. Most new mums and dads will have done some reading about what to expect during the first year, but seeing it happen is rather different.
It is exciting to watch your baby as they change almost every day. At first you will be just getting to know your baby and learning the different cries so that you begin to understand what they want. You will notice their jerky, uncoordinated movements, especially when they are excited, for instance when feeding.
Then comes the magic moment of the first smile and from then on it seems that they are in a race to see how much more they can do. They reach the stage of being able to hold up their head and will now seem much more alert and interested in what you are doing and what else is around them. Rolling from back to front may come soon and before you know where you are, you can’t take your eyes off them for a minute without them moving away from where you had put them.
Crawling or bottom shuffling will follow and by now you will probably be having reciprocal conversations with your baby, even if you are not sure what the language is.
By now, you have a strong relationship with this small person, who is no longer just a baby.
It can be a bit difficult to decide what sort of present to give when one of your work colleagues leaves to have a baby. You may not have a great deal of experience of babies so feel a bit out of your depth in having to choose something for a newborn.
This is where it can be really helpful to browse the internet and find gift sets that have been designed for just this occasion. You don’t need the knowledge yourself; you can leave it to the experts to come up with the ideal gift for a newborn baby, whether it is clothes, soft toys or a rattle.
You can choose what sort of baby gifts you want to give, perhaps jointly with your other work colleagues and you can decide on what message to put in with your gift. It is often nice these days to add a little something for the new mum and dad, so that they also have the pleasure of a new gift.
You may be surprised to find how much you enjoy the process of choosing all the tiny clothes or toys, especially if you haven’t had much experience of small babies so it is all a new experience for you.
If you know someone who has had a baby recently, why not think about giving them a special day to enjoy. It often happens that there is a great deal of excitement when the baby is born and for a few weeks after, and the new mum and dad may be overwhelmed by visits and new baby gifts, but then everything goes quiet.
Dad will have to be back at work, and the new mum is left at home alone with her new baby and new routine. Although it is lovely to be at home with a small baby, it can also be lonely and sometimes worrying, with so many new things to deal with.
So if you arrange to visit after a few months, you may find that you are very welcome. You could bring a gift set for the new baby; all the baby gifts from the time of the birth will be in use by now, so a bright new baby gift set, some clothes or toys will be much appreciated.
Your thoughtfulness will be valued as you will be reminding the new mum that she hasn’t been forgotten and people are still thinking of her and if you bring a luxury treat for mum as well, then it gives her a real treat and a reminder that she can still sometimes enjoy and indulge herself.
It might seem impossible to think of babies and the environment when you are in the middle of preparing for your new baby. There are so many necessary things to buy and it seems impossible to unite the two. But it is possible to make a start on bringing up your baby in a way that won’t be environmentally unfriendly.
You could buy, or ask for organic clothes for your new baby. Crops that produce organic materials won’t have had any pesticides sprayed on them and there are other benefits, like the reduction in use of artificial fertilisers, which can cause harm to rivers and wildlife. Artificial fertilisers also use energy to make them, which all adds to environmental problems.
Once you have the organic clothes for your baby, you could decide to research on other areas that might help – for example using ecological washing powders. As your baby grows, you can make sure that you choose organic baby foods and sustainably produced toys and baby gifts.
You can choose activities to do with your baby or toddler that don’t need a lot of travelling or energy use, like going to the park, or to other interesting local places. And reading together or playing games at home and in the garden are ideal for enjoying time with your baby or toddler and being environmentally friendly.
Most of the time, we try to do many things at once, we have to go to work, get the shopping, do the housework and keep in touch with friends and family. We may thus become very good at multi-tasking.
This is very useful when you have a baby, especially if you already have an older child, but if it is at all possible, don’t forget to find some time to be just you and the new baby.
There is nothing quite like being uninterrupted and doing nothing when you and your new baby are together. It is difficult these days for us to believe that it is all right to do nothing, but that is exactly what is a good thing to do with a newborn. Just sit and relax holding your baby close and cuddling. You can talk or sing to them, or if you prefer, just sitting quietly is good too. You will both benefit from the relaxation and closeness, and your baby will be comforted by your warmth and touch.
Don’t allow the pace of life to stop you from having this experience – new babies don’t stay new for very long, so take advantage of it while you can.
You might not remember bootees – and surely these are something that used to be knitted by elderly members of your family. But if you look around, you may see quite a few babies out and about with bare, slightly cold looking feet. Babies do need to be kept warm enough, and it is surprising how even a day which can feel warm to us as we walk around, can be cool when you are not moving. Even though a baby being carried against your body will be kept warm, the dangling feet may not be.
So put out of your head ideas of old fashioned knitted bootees (although these are also very nice when knitted especially for you) and think of modern designs in soft materials that will keep your baby’s feet warm and look good.
Or, if you are looking for a present for a new mum and dad, bootees are an ideal gifts for babies as this is something they may not have thought about, and is not too expensive. You can choose from bootees for the very cold weather or just for that bit of extra warmth for the baby’s feet in any weather.
You might feel that it is impossible for one parent to be in two places at once, with a small baby who needs feeding, changing and cuddling, and with a toddler who wants to be entertained. It can be easy to think that just keeping your toddler amused isn’t as important as the needs your small baby has, but you do need to remember that the needs of your toddler are just as important in a different way.
Your toddler is not constantly demanding your attention because they are naughty, but because they really do need your guidance in order to direct their activities. Young children have a fairly short attention span, which is why they cannot concentrate on anything for too long and come back to you asking for another activity.
One idea to fill a gap is to gently lay your baby on a large piece of paper on the floor – if you have any left-over wallpaper this would be ideal – and help your toddler to draw carefully around them. Once you have the outline, you can give your toddler some crayons, sticky paper, or if you have them, scraps of material and paste, and while you are feeding or changing the baby, your toddler can be drawing in their face or sticking on and colouring the clothes.
This way, you are both “looking after” your babies, and your toddler will be entertained and will not feel left out.
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It is a shock to anyone to find that they are expecting twins, even if they know that twins are in the family. Everything suddenly has to be doubled, including of course, the mum-to-be’s bump.
You will probably have to take more rest during pregnancy because of the greater demands on your body, and the planning and preparation for the new arrivals is a bit more complicated, as you need to plan for two instead of one.
Luckily, if you can get friends and relatives to help out, you can find new baby gifts that are designed for twins, so that they and you can enjoy choosing just as you could for one baby. Toys, outfits, blankets and teddies can all be given in twos, just ready for the new babies, and often you will receive these gifts in a basket that you can then use to store the babies’ things in.
Having twins means double the excitement of planning and preparing for the new babies as you look for nursery items that are designed for your needs, and two lots of nappies and baby clothes and toys.
If you are expecting twins, then you have an excuse to ask for help from your friends and relatives, and they can have the pleasure of finding pretty and practical new twins gift sets to help you out.
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