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One of the hardest things to achieve after your baby has arrived is to get back your shape. Just as you are on a steep learning curve with the new baby and finding yourself exhausted from broken nights and breastfeeding, as well as all the nappy changing and washing, you want to find the time and energy to exercise. The temptation to give up and to eat easy-cook meals may lead to even less energy and less chance of getting your figure back.
One way round this is to link up with other new mums who are in the same position as you. There is nothing quite like mutual support and encouragement from other people who know what you are going through. The advantage is that there is usually someone who is up when others are down, so you all get a turn in being encouraged or being the encourager. You can also share baby gifts for the babies.
Arranging some brisk walks together with your babies in buggies would be a good start; you don’t have to invest in expensive gym memberships and you could arrange swimming sessions together – lots of pools have mother and baby sessions. You could take it in turns to have a proper swim while the others look after the babies, always remembering the important safety rules for babies near water!
You will be surprised how much easier it all is when you have company.
Once a baby reaches about six months, they are much more able to play games with you and you don’t need to do anything complicated as the old-fashioned well versed games are often the best.
You are sure to have a good supply of soft toys that were given as baby gifts for your newborn, such as teddy bears, bunnies and other animals and you can use these to make up simple stories for your baby to watch – such as bunny hopping on the chair and teddy trying to follow, while giraffe stretches up a long neck to watch what they are doing. You could give the toys to your baby to hold as they wait their turn in the story, so your baby is included.
Then as you baby becomes able to understand it, you can play hide and seek with the toys and a blanket – the toys hide behind it and then come out with a peek a boo to your baby. By about seven or eight months they will be laughing with you and getting lots of enjoyment from this game.
As your baby develops, they will be able to take part more, and will be able to move on to doing the hiding themselves, and peeking out to surprise the toys.
Not all toddlers want to have a bath, they may be busy doing something else, or may be a bit nervous of the bath. It may not seem obviously frightening to you, but to a small child the bath seems big, and the taps and plumbing may be noisy with rushing water, and then there’s the plug that seems to suck everything away.
So making bath time fun and unscary is quite important to avoid upsets and tears. As you bath your toddler, try to make sure that you are holding them securely, so that they don’t have any fear of slipping under the water. And of course, you know that you have to make sure all the time that they are safe.
Talk to them about the bath and what fun the water is, and encourage them to make a few small splashes, but try to avoid splashing their face as most small children won’t like this. Bubble bath can also makes bath time far more exciting for a baby or small child.
Having some special bath toys will help, especially if they are kept just for bath time and not available at other times. It is always worth asking friends and relatives to ask for these toys as a gift for your baby. Boats that your toddler can pull along in the bath, or special bath time sticker toys are ideal as they are designed to be played with in the bath so won’t come to any harm.
As your toddler enjoys playing with their toys in the bath, you can be encouraging them to help with washing themselves, perhaps the boat can pull the soap up to them to use, or bring them the flannel. Before long, the tears and fears will be a thing of the past.
Most small babies will need to sleep for more than half the time during their first few months, although not all will do this. Some babies carry on sleeping for long nights with a couple of naps during the day right up until they start nursery school, while others will reduce the number of hours of sleep and may not even have a nap at all by the time they are eighteen months old.
Whichever group your baby falls into, you will find out as the days go by, and you will need to adapt your routine to fit in with it. Even if you have a baby who does not sleep so much, it does not necessarily mean that you will have to be with them all the time. Some babies are very contented to lie in their cot or pram looking at the world around them, following you with their eyes and looking at the toys you have had given as baby gifts. As they develop, they will be able to do more, and will start to play with their toys and amuse themselves.
If you have one of the waking, needing attention babies, don’t despair, even these babies will sleep sometimes, and you can find that even when exhausted and holding a baby at 5 in the morning, there is a strange fulfilment in feeling that just the two of you are awake in the world.
Toddlers are at the stage where they have an enormous interest in the whole world, but don’t have very efficient ways of dealing with what the world throws at them, so they can be wildly upset by very minor events.
It can be tempting to see it from an adult perspective and think that they are being silly, but really they are simply being a toddler – they can’t see the world as we do and don’t have any choice in their reactions.
You will be the best judge of your own toddler, and more often than not be able to work out what is going wrong for them. It may be being over-tired or hungry or thirsty that has set them off, or they may be bored but not realised it.
When a toddler is whining or grizzling, it can be good if you can manage it, rather than ignore the behaviour. Distract them with an activity, or if you do think they are hungry or thirsty give them a snack or a drink. If they are upset because you have said ‘no’ try not to reverse your decision, or they will learn that whinging will get them what they want.
It can be a good idea to have a few small baby gifts, toys or playthings tucked away to get out at times of stress so that they are new to your toddler and immediately distract them.
Once you know that you are pregnant there is a blissful period when you dream about what it will be like with a beautiful baby and lots of time to enjoy them in a relaxed and calm atmosphere. You’ll probably find that once people know about it they can’t resist telling you how awful it will be, with sleepless nights, nappy changing and crying.
However true this may be, the other side of it is the experience of a completely different way of looking at life, so that the sleepless nights and all the rest of it are part of the package and become in their own way a satisfying experience, if not immediately enjoyable.
What you can do to prolong the pleasant expectations is to plan what you will need for the baby and have a baby gift list ready for when friends and relatives ask what you would like for the newborn baby. Spend this preparation time looking in shops and on websites to see what gifts for babies are out there – you will probably find that there is much more than you had thought, from organic baby clothes to new baby gift baskets to treats for yourself and your partner to not-being-left-out presents for older brothers and sisters.
Enjoy the expectation while you have it, and then prepare to enjoy the reality.
This is a lovely time for nearly-to-be grandparents, whether again or for the first time. You have a special place with the new baby and the new parents and can offer practical help and assistance in buying new baby items.
Do remember the first rule of being a grandparent – check first, don’t assume. The new parents will have their own ideas about what they want and how they plan to do things. There is nothing quite so wonderful as a grandparent who is there when needed and provides moral support and sympathy, as well as cups of tea and the odd small present for the baby or new parents and this is the role you want to be in.
It is traditional for the grandparents to help with buying some of the larger items such as a pram or cot for the new baby, so get together with the parents to be and find out from them if they would like you to do this, and what sort of gift they would like.
There is nothing to stop you adding on the odd extra item as time goes on, such as bootees, or other small gift for the new baby. You may need to tread carefully as you negotiate your relationship with the new family, but the rewards can be great.
If you are looking for a present for a new mum and dad, perhaps a work colleague or friend, and you are not sure what sort of gift to get, especially if you are on a budget, one idea is to put together a basket of items that they will find really useful when the new baby arrives. Items such as baby soap, towels, and a soft baby flannel will make bath time easier and you could add to this some small things such as a bib or two and some bootees.
These small items won’t break the bank, but will be very useful to and much appreciated by the new parents, who will have them to use as soon as they are needed.
Another idea is to ask your friend or colleague what they would like – most expectant parents will have their own list of other items that they need to buy and they will be pleased to have some of these things ticked off the list for them.
You can make up a pretty basket or parcel with a few of these small gifts for the new baby so that you have an attractive gift to give to the new parents and their baby.
Double the pleasure and double the work, an instant family, that’s just a couple of phrases that come to mind when you hear about twins. Two of everything is needed – there will be no waiting for clothes to be outgrown or toys being tired of as both babies will be doing everything at the same time. If you are buying gifts for parents who have or are expecting twins you will have to buy two of everything.
You can choose from specially produced gifts that are made up for twins – a basket of toys and clothes with everything doubled up – or in the case of triplets, everything in triplicate.
Your gift will be appreciated by the new parents who will probably be struggling to make sure that they have enough of everything. There is a great deal to be bought for any baby and when you have to provide for more than one, it can be quite an effort.
So your carefully chosen gift for twins will be very pleasing to the new parents who will know from this the thought you have given to the new baby gift you have chosen.
Another gift that will be much appreciated with twins is the gift of time – if you can offer to do some of the everyday tasks for the new parents, such as shopping or cleaning, you will free up some of their time and energy so they will get more enjoyment from their new babies
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Most mums would agree that they are thrilled for their new baby to receive loads of attention and new baby gifts. Congratulations and showing off the new baby are part of this time and mums and babies deserve every bit of it.
It might be enjoyable for the new mum as well as all this, to have some time just for herself as well, as this is a time of great change and a transformation of life for her, so a gift that encourages her to spend some time to herself, such as a pampering bath set, could be just the thing. New mums would love relaxing in a bath full of fragranced bubbles.
Then, once mum is feeling relaxed and mellow, it could be the baby’s turn for some bath or baby oil pampering with some special baby wash and skin balm. This could lead to a relaxing evening and with luck, maybe even a quieter night as mum and baby relax into sleep. A soothing session such as this every so often may make all the difference in those first few months when there is so much to learn for both mum and baby.
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