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It is easy when you are bringing your new baby home to think about all the things you need to do to prepare and all the things you need to buy for the baby. You think about nursery furniture, pushchair, baby clothes, feeding, and routines but do you think about what might make your own life better once the baby has arrived?
Ask any mum and they will probably be able to tell you how very enjoyable and satisfying the time they spend feeding their new baby is, but probably will also be able to tell you of the time it took them to find a comfortable chair and position for feeding the baby.
Have a look at the chairs you have at home, and work out which one will give you all the things that will make life more comfortable for you, and that you can put in a restful position ready for when you bring your baby home.
Feeding your baby is one of the times when you can really take time to get to know them - most mums soon realise that babies look intently at you while being fed and out of this is created a strong bond between you. If you are getting cramp, or feeling uncomfortable it will make it difficult for you to relax and take advantage of this time with your baby, so what a difference some planning ahead could make.
Once you have your new baby home with you, you will have to deal with the need for attention from your older child at home. It is surprising how grown up a toddler suddenly seems to you as you carry in your new baby, but it is important to remember that they are really still the small child you left a couple of days ago.
They need the same amount of love and attention from you that you were giving during the days before you had the new baby. It is difficult to work out how to spread yourself, particularly in the early days when you are still tired from the labour and learning about the new baby.
One way of making it easier for yourself is to have some new toys ready to give to your toddler once you are home with the new baby. There are lots of different toys from pirate teddy bears to stickers to dinosaurs that will give your toddler something to occupy them when you are unable to spend time with them.
Even while you are looking after the new baby, you will be able to talk to your toddler about their toy and the stories they are making up, and your attention will reassure them that they are still loved.
You probably think that you don’t have any experience of being a mum or dad and that you are going to have to learn everything from scratch. Well, there probably are a lot of new things you will need to know and you will be on a steep learning curve, on everything from nappy changing to the correct position to lay your baby to sleep.
But there’s a lot that you already know, but you don’t realise that you know it. The most important things that a baby needs are love and security and you can love a baby without having to learn anything. Security means that you make sure your baby is fed and cuddled, and you will find that you already know how to cuddle, and organising the feeds is a variation on other things you have had to organise in other areas of your life.
Yes, almost all parents are terrified at first about how tiny and fragile a small baby is, but once you are living all the time with a baby, who is part of your family, you soon learn how to hold them and after while you can’t remember why you were worried.
So, being a parent is a combination of new learning and old experience, and if you can’t help being worried, just remember that all the other new parents you know are going through exactly the same experience.
It isn’t just the way you will find yourself talking to your baby once it arrives – you will find that it affects all your conversation. You and your partner will suddenly find yourselves talking about things you previously had no idea even existed, let alone that you would find them the most interesting topics on earth.
Some of these subjects are about how much sleep you both had last night, and how long it took for your baby to settle back to sleep after being fed and changed. Then there is possetting – had you heard of this? It’s when a baby regurgitates a small amount of their feed, not enough to call it being sick. Cradle cap and the back of the head baldness may take your interest and you will discuss the reasons for these things and what you may do about them.
Then there are the topics of conversation around whether your baby just smiled – was it a real smile or was it wind? And the new way they have started to wave their arms around or kick their feet. Every day you will find a new feature that will prompt another conversation about each small detail on the subject of your baby.
Don’t be embarrassed about this, of course a baby is the biggest thing in your life and you are doing exactly the right thing in making it the central topic of your conversations.
It’s really lovely if you and a friend find that you are pregnant together, or you make a good friend at ante-natal classes. You have someone to share all the hopes and fears with, and someone to laugh with when it can otherwise seem difficult.
Once the babies are born you are a natural twosome, there to offer a shoulder to cry on or to share the delight with. Your babies will be close in age so you can share the developmental milestones.
However, there is one big but to this – don’t allow yourselves to become competitive about which baby is smiling first, or sitting up, or crawling. All mums are incurably sure that their baby is the best, cleverest, most beautiful baby there ever was, and this is how it should be. But don’t expect your friend to share your opinion of your baby, because she knows it’s her baby who is best.
If you keep telling each other all the details of how well your baby is doing, you may just drive each other away. Try to talk about how well your friend’s baby is doing rather than emphasising the brilliance of your own.
And remember to talk about things other than your babies sometimes, perhaps have a meal together occasionally when baby subjects are banned, so you can just enjoy your friendship.
By the time your baby is six months old, they may be rolling over, raising their head up when they are lying on their stomach, sitting up or even beginning to crawl.
However fast they are developing, one sure thing is that they will be growing and expanding their repertoire all the time, going from a small baby who lies in one place, to a rather speedy ‘don’t look away or they’ll be somewhere else’ bundle of energy.
You will need to keep up with all this progress as it is also a big change for you. You will find that it’s fine to dress a small baby in a dress if you have a girl, but once they are on the go, they need to be free to move their arms and legs without getting tangled up.
This is where body suits come into their own and bootees can be very useful to protect their small feet from the floor as the baby rolls or pulls themselves around. Baby feet need keeping safe on surfaces from hardwood floors to carpets which can very easily be rubbed and babies don’t know how to protect themselves. Bootees are made from soft material and non slip soles which offers all the protection the baby needs.
Even when you have prepared your toddler for the arrival of the new baby, they will probably find it very hard to understand what it is all about until the baby actually arrives. So what about a bit of hands on preparation such as a bath time playset that includes a baby doll with a nappy, soap, shampoo and towel. Your toddler can change the nappy, bath the baby and wrap it up in a towel to keep it warm, just like mummy will be doing with the new baby when it arrives.
For a small child, this is a good way of introducing them to what it will be like to have a baby in the house, and to start them with the idea that they will be able to help you with the new baby. Up until now your toddler has had all your attention, so they need to get used to the idea of having another person in the house.
They need to understand that mummy and daddy will be busy with the new baby as well as juggling other commitments such as work. It can also be of great help if they learn how to hold a baby, how fragile it is and how gentle they will have to be. It is easier to avoid jealousy when the older child feels that they are your helper, rather than feeling that you are looking after another baby instead of them.
Sometimes it can seem that having a toddler is just hard work and that there is never time enough for all that needs doing. This is especially true when you have gone back to work after maternity leave, you have become so used to looking after your baby you suddenly realise you need to re-adjust to the outside world as well incorporate looking after your child with your work responsibilities.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, but you can do some things to help yourself. One is, slow down – don’t expect your toddler to keep up with the adult world of work. Once you are home, allow yourself to live at toddler speed so that you can enjoy all the daft little things they do and all the cuddles and affection that toddlers have to give.
If you find that dinner is late, or that the washing isn’t done, try not to get stressed about it, a late meal is better than not having one at all and the washing can be done tomorrow, but the moments when your toddler first achieves something, like a step, or a first word won’t happen again, you will be glad you were there to share it.
Yes, you will feel under pressure and worry about the strain that juggling work and a home life brings, but you need to remember how important it is to be there for your young child to share their most memorable moments.
Your baby’s first smile always feels fantastic, but not far behind is the start of your baby laugher. Babies don’t generally laugh until around 6 months, but around then you will find that if you tickle them, or make funny noises, they are sure to start laughing. Laughter is always infectious and your own baby’s giggles even more so.
Playing peek a boo, using your baby’s soft toy animals to make funny noises or blowing raspberries on your baby’s tummy are all a good way to start your baby laughing. Reading funny books and joining in with the right noises or faces will also make your baby laugh; you can make lots of ordinary activities into an excuse for laughter.
And it isn’t just enjoyment – laughter is a huge part of the affection you and your baby share and it helps you to bond together. Some experts have said that a happy baby is a healthy baby so there is no harm is making various activities in your day more exciting and fun for your baby. As well as this, a sense of humour is a great asset in life, so enjoying yourself now with the assurance that you are helping to prepare your baby for the future.
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Everybody loves the sunshine, but if you have a baby or a toddler you will find the hot weather makes lifting and carrying them harder whilst they are generally unhappy about being too hot and uncomfortable.
Nappies can make any child feel uncomfortable in the heat, however they are essential wear for your baby so ensure that their other clothing is loose fitting, in cool colours and is made out of breathable materials such as cotton.
If you are planning a visit to a local garden or a park nearby, make sure they are not in direct sunlight – at this time of year a small child or baby’s skin can be burnt in only 10 minutes or so and you may not see any of the warning signs such as redness immediately. A shaded area, a high factor sun block and a breeze are ideal for a toddler to keep cool and amuse themselves or a smaller baby can lie comfortably in a pram, with you supervising of course.
Having them both together means you can keep an eye at the same time and what better excuse for you to sit and enjoy the sunshine.
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