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At some time, the one to one period with your baby will end and you will have to share them with someone else. If you find that you are a bit anxious about this, it is no wonder that your baby may not be too happy about it either. It’s not unusual for clingy behaviour to start at around nine months when your baby reaches the stage of understanding that there are different people around who are not all familiar people to them.
It can be quite difficult not to be a bit impatient with a baby who won’t go to someone else, even for a short while, when enticing them with baby gifts and toys does not seem to work. However, patience is what is needed, so that you can give your baby the reassurance they need, that it is only for a few minutes, that you still love them and that you will soon be back.
As your baby has the experience of being away from you and then coming back, they gradually learn through repetition what is happening. Eventually they will know from the outset that you will be returning and they don’t need to worry about it.
It’s not always easy to get to this stage and all babies vary, with some taking much longer than others to get there, but if you can stay patient and optimistic, you will get there in the end.
It is impossible to look at a baby or toddler without wondering who they look like. Is it mum or dad, or grandma or grandpa or maybe one of the aunts or uncles? It is surprising how much you can see a likeness even in a newborn baby and of course, once they are toddlers there is lots of resemblance, probably to more than one person.
Some of the similarity comes from the baby’s looks – their colouring or features really do look like one of the family, but some of it develops as the baby develops. This can happen because the way that babies learn is through copying, so that even their expressions and the way they move will become unconscious copies of the people around them.
So even if your baby does not look very like you in features, don’t worry, you will very likely find that as time goes on, they will become more and more like you in the way they appear. Their actions can take on the same quality as yours and you may end up with strangers telling you how like you your child looks, even when you don’t see it yourself.
It may seem that all new babies are the same and are too young to really have individual personalities but most parents will tell you that they could see their child’s emerging personality pretty much from day one. You will probably find the same, that each baby has their own ways of dealing with the world and you will find out what these are.
Some babies can get to the age of 3 months and their parents will tell you that they’ve never really heard the baby cry – even if a feed is late; the baby is placid and happy to just wait until it arrives. Night time feeds of course do have to be given, but the little one goes back to sleep afterwards and in the morning will be found happy in the cot, awake but quiet.
Other parents will have the opposite experience of a baby who cries as soon as they wake and can’t be left to wait for their feed.
Does this mean that one baby is ‘good’ and the other is ‘naughty’? Of course not, these are expressions of the baby’s personality, whether they are placid or more active; perhaps it may indicate whether they are more or less anxious, but small babies simply don’t have the mental ability to know what is being good or naughty and so cannot behave in either way. As they grow, you will see the personality developing from these early signs.
Once you are home with your new baby, you can indulge yourself with taking as many photographs as you want of the newest member of your family. New babies grow fast and it is hard to keep up with the changes in their life, so starting a first year’s photo album will give you the framework for recording all these changes.
New baby gifts from relatives and friends will be part of these photos, as you take pictures of your baby in their special outfits or with particular toys. Sending photos to the givers of these gifts not only says thank you to them but also shows them that you really are pleased with the gift and are using it.
You may have a keepsake box for items such as the baby’s hospital bracelet, which you could keep with the photo album as a reminder of how your baby looked and how small they were when they were born.
Photographs should also include brothers and sisters, who will love to be photographed either on their own or with their new sister or brother. If they have been given some gifts as well, then these can be included in the photos as part of the memories of this special time.
When you have a second baby, it can be really difficult to have enough energy to look after the baby and your toddler or older child. Simply feeling tired because of broken nights may make you feel that the demands your older child makes are unreasonable. But don’t forget that they are also adjusting to the changes in the family and so need your reassurance, and still have the same needs as they did the day before the new baby arrived.
The most important thing young children need is your love and attention – a few meals replaced by a sandwich won’t do much harm, but feeling that you no longer love them because of the new baby may cause problems. Even if you are exhausted, try to give your older child a smile, some words and a cuddle whenever you can. Sometimes it feels that you simply can’t take on their demands, but children can be quite affected by not being answered and feeling ignored, so give them at least an answer and if possible an explanation if you can’t do what they want at that time.
A small ‘token’ such as a special gift you gave them when the new baby arrived may help, for example a rag doll that you can suggest they cuddle at the same time as you are cuddling the baby, may help them to feel that you are both together, doing the same thing.
It can be easy when your baby is very small to spend most of your time at home with them and to find the idea of going out socialising a bit daunting because of all the preparation that going out involves. For some mums, this period of being at home is great and they really enjoy the one-to-one with their new baby, others may prefer to get organised and go out and about.
Once you reach the time when you do want to start going out, one way is to go to a mother and baby or mother and toddler group. This has the advantage that everyone else is in the same situation as you, so you don’t need to worry if you’ve had a bad night and feel that you look awful, someone else is bound to be feeling the same. You get the advantages of conversation and shared experience.
Depending on your baby’s age and developmental stage, they may be completely unbothered by being in a group or may be apprehensive and cling to you. It doesn’t matter as long as you are able to give them the attention they need whilst you are benefiting from your conversation with other parents. Once your baby is old enough to start exploring and enjoying the contact with other babies, they will benefit from this early learning by becoming a more sociable person.
You may be breast feeding your baby and be worrying about how you can manage to go out when you don’t know whether you will find somewhere to feed your baby, or even if you should do so in public. It’s really up to each individual to decide if you want to do this, so don’t be misled into thinking that it is right or wrong – it is entirely up to you and how you feel about it.
There are choices – you may feel perfectly ok about feeding in public, or you may want to find a ‘halfway house’ of feeding while you are out, but find a private place to do this. It’s surprising how many people you will find who are willing to be helpful if you ask – larger shops may have dedicated baby areas, but even in small shops, the staff are often willing to lend you the use of a back room for a while. Stations and airports may have a ladies room, which may or may not be suitable for feeding a baby, but it’s worth finding out. If you’ve been given a good sized shawl or baby blanket as a new baby gift, these can be used to wrap around yourself and give you some personal privacy.
Decide what you are comfortable with, make your preparations so that your baby gets fed whether out or at home, and your baby will be happy with whatever you choose.
Before your baby was born, you will probably have spent hours thinking of all the names you know and trying to decide which one is the one for your baby.
For some couples it is easy, as they find that nearly all the names one likes the other doesn’t and vice versa, so in the end there are only a couple of names that they can agree on. But there is a lot to think about when choosing your baby’s name or names.
There is a long tradition of giving a baby at least one family name, often as a middle name; either a previous surname that the family don’t want to lose completely, or more often, a first name that tends to run through the generations. This is likely to be one of the time-honoured names that feel as though they are part of everyone’s history. If you want to give an unusual name, a traditional name given as well can add more depth to the baby’s whole name.
There is always the point to remember that the baby will grow up and will have to live with their name for the whole of their life. A beautiful little baby in her pink outfit may look like a Rosebud, but will she really want to be called this when she is 30?
Once the name is chosen, let other people know, so that they can have the pleasure of choosing newborn baby gifts like bowls and mugs, that you can use when your baby is little, and will afterwards make a lovely keepsake.
Once a baby reaches about 8 months or so, they become much more alert to everything that is going on around them. They’ll realise that you are moving around doing the housework tasks, and will notice that the phone is ringing, or the radio is on, or someone coming to the door. All this means that they are highly distractible, so that almost any activity they are doing can be interrupted by anything else that is going on around them. This new behaviour may surprise you, but it’s because your baby has developed enough to notice the world more, so has found that there is lots out there that they don’t know about, and want to learn about. This is the time when you have to be very aware of all the interesting but dangerous ordinary things in the house, like electric sockets, lamps, and ornaments that can be pulled over and much more.
You may find that you have to give your baby one of their baby gifts and then change it for another one fairly soon so that they don’t get bored and fractious. You could keep the toys out of your baby’s reach, so that you can always find something that they haven’t seen for a while, which will hopefully seem new and interesting to them again.
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Every time you smile at your new baby, you are teaching them about love and affection. Babies learn through copying, and even though everyone says that babies don’t really smile before about 6 weeks, that it’s wind or discomfort making them grimace, all mums know that they are seeing a smile. So smile a lot at your baby and you can hope that they copy your smile back all the sooner.
Another thing you will notice is how intently your baby stares at you, even from newborn. Babies can’t focus very well at first, but do look very fixedly into your eyes as you are feeding them, and as time goes on, they will learn what you look like, and associate you with all the comfortable things that happen to them, like feeding, winding and cuddling. And why should all the learning be one way? You can copy your baby and look closely and lovingly at them, so that the bond between you grows.
Also, don’t keep all this love and affection just to yourself, dads, brothers and sisters can enjoy all this smiling and looking as well, so that the whole family develops a strong, warm bond, and that’s what families are all about.
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