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If you already have a toddler, then this can be a daunting time in the first few weeks with your new baby. You will probably be tired first thing in the morning from the disrupted night, and your toddler will still be waking bright and early as toddlers usually do.
Being tired, you may find it difficult to think of eating first thing, which means it isn’t easy to provide a good nutritious breakfast for your toddler. However, if your toddler sits down to a good breakfast, with your attention while they do so, then you will get off to a better start to the day. Your toddler will then find it easier to settle to their activities during the morning, so you will then have time to do the things you need to, or to have a sit down if the baby allows it.
It always sounds unappealing to think in the evening of preparing the breakfast, but if you can get the table laid, everything ready, and your toddler’s clothes out neatly, it will make it so much easier to give the time and attention to your toddler in the morning. If you are super clever, you could have a first activity ready for your toddler to be doing while you are getting the breakfast – such as the toddler keeping the baby occupied with baby gifts. Remember, keeping both them and yourself happy is the key to a good start to the day.
Once you know you are pregnant, the excitement of planning for a whole new way of life will begin. You will find that things you had previously not even realised existed suddenly have a great deal of importance to you.
And you will find there is a whole world of baby items that never before appeared on your radar like new baby gift baskets containing soft toys, baby clothes and towels and booties.
Of course, everyone has a budget they need to keep to, so don’t expect to be able to buy all of the baby gifts that catch your eye. But it’s a good idea to start browsing quite early on so that you have plenty of time to choose from the selection of gifts for babies. These days, there are many different types of baby clothes available in different colours and designs, including organic clothes. Then there are bath items and toys, not to mention the absolute basics like nappies.
Spend some time browsing in shops and on the internet, and once you have some idea of what is out there, see if you know anyone who has small children so you can ask their opinion, and if possible, perhaps try out some of their things.
Not everyone wants to buy everything before the baby is born; some like to wait to see what they will need. The important thing is to find out what is around and then pick the right options to suit you and your family.
Some people believe that you can tell when your baby is about to be born because you will start what they call ‘nesting’. This means you have a clean out and tidy up of your home, and especially the room you plan to be the nursery.
Some new mothers confirm that they did indeed suddenly feel the need to clean and tidy and then found that the baby arrived shortly afterwards. Whether this is true for everyone, it is a good idea to have your nursery and all the baby items ready well in advance of your due date. This avoids the need to do this when you are not feeling up to it.
If you have planned what nursery and baby items you want, then you will be less stressed about the arrival of your baby. You might even be lucky enough to receive some of the items as baby gifts from friends and family. A new baby gift basket is a popular baby gift and if you receive one of these, you will be better prepared for when the baby arrives.
If you find that your nesting instinct kicks in, indulge in a little light dusting and sorting. If you are well prepared, then there should be no need for any heavy duty moving and cleaning.
Do you have a routine? For most of us, this is something that gets imposed upon us as a result of going to work. You have to be there at a certain time, so everything else gets arranged around this.
But once you are home on maternity leave all of this suddenly disappears and you have a lot more spare time on your hands. Before the baby is born this is great as it means you can do exactly what every mum to be should do at this stage of pregnancy, which is to relax and look after yourself.
When the baby is born, there is a need for a routine again and you will have to take time to work out the best one for you. Of course, some of it will be dictated by the baby’s needs for sleep, feeds, changing and entertaining, but you will be the person in control of the overall day.
If it feels daunting, remember that there is no right or wrong – how you organise your day is up to you. You can choose whatever time of day feels right to you for going out, shopping, housework and visiting friends and relatives. The important thing is to have a routine that you are happy with. It must ensure that your baby is being looked after and it must allow you to get everything done.
Why do babies cry? Of course, you really do know the answer. It is their way of communicating, but it can sometimes seem as though nothing you can do is any help.
One tip, once you’ve checked all the usual things, like feeding and changing and making sure they are comfortable, is to put your baby in the pram or buggy, and take them for a long walk. Walking is good exercise for you and it can help to lift your mood when you are feeling down, which can often happen with a crying baby.
Just as the motion of a car or train can send any of us to sleep, so a baby has the same experience with being pushed in their pram or pushchair. If you can keep a nice gentle motion going, you will gradually calm your baby and allow them to relax enough to go to sleep. You will benefit from being out and about and from the exercise and you will feel better for doing something, rather than being stuck in the home with a crying baby.
Even if it doesn’t work, and your baby continues to cry, somehow it is less trying when you are out in the fresh air and not cooped up in a room together. You can also try giving them some of their new baby gifts to play with as you push them along.
When you take your baby out in the pushchair, how do you decide whether to have them facing you or the way you are going? One of the delights of a baby is the eye contact you can have with them – even with a small baby you will find that eye contact with them gives you a feeling you can’t get from anything else. So if this is what you want, then have the baby in a pushchair that faces you so you can look at them and talk to them.
On the other hand, babies and small children are intensely interested in everything around them, so it makes sense to give them the opportunity to see all that is going on. This doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to them, you will just have to remember to lean over and chat each time you see something to interest them. Anything will do; it may sound a bit daft if you are not used to it, but say to your baby or toddler things like: “look at that blue car” or “did you see that big red bus?”
This not only strengthens you relationship with your small child, but also helps to build up their knowledge and interest in the world, as the shapes they see around them are explained. They can also play with the baby gifts that have been given to them by friends and relatives.
So, the answer really is to have the choice of facing forward or back and to decide when you are going out if you want to chat with your baby uninterrupted or to enjoy all the events going on around you together.
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.
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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.
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