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Bathing a new baby can seem quite daunting, so it’s a good idea to prepare yourself. The first thing to remember is that no baby or small child can ever be left alone, even for a second, in the bath and a small baby must have their head supported. You also have to be very careful about the temperature of the water and make sure it is not too hot for a baby. It is a good idea to run the cold water in first and then add the hot so you can be sure it isn’t too hot by mistake and always check the temperature before placing your baby in the bath, even if you think it is the correct heat.
This is where some of the new baby gifts you may have received from friends could be of help, as a bathtime set including soft towel, washcloth or sponge and possibly a thermometer will make it easier for you to get everything ready. Having all this to hand means you will not have to lift your baby out of the bath while you find something you have forgotten.
Like everything you are doing with your baby, be gentle and talk to them about what you are doing and how enjoyable it is. The baby will be reassured by your tone of voice and touch and will learn to enjoy bathtime.
Babies cry, it’s the natural way they have of communicating. For a new mother, the baby crying is probably one of the most stressful things to cope with, as it can make you feel that you just do not know what to do.
You can talk to your midwife and health visitor, who will have experience of new babies so will have advice to give you, and will be able to reassure you. There will however still be those uncomfortable moments when you are on your own and feel panicked by your baby crying.
One thing to remember is that, just like your new baby, you are learning all the time. You are learning to recognise the sounds of your baby’s cries, and will gradually, without realising it, come to know when it is a hungry cry, an uncomfortable cry, or most importantly, an unwell cry. So that as time goes on, you will know what your baby needs, whether it’s a feed, changing, or checking in case they are ill. You will learn from your baby what they like, how they like to be held, what comforts them best, whether they like to be talked to or just held quietly.
At the start, it feels so hard to know what to do, but allow yourself time for you and your baby to get to know each other.
Even from the first day, a new baby starts to know their mum and dad and to build a relationship with them. As you look after your new baby, everything you do is part of the relationship and the getting-to-know each other.
As you change a nappy, or put them to bed, you can be gently singing to your baby or talking about what you are doing.
If you have been lucky enough to be given some baby gifts like soft bootees or teddy for your new baby, then you can use these to gently stroke against your baby’s skin, and you will be able to see what their reaction is.
You and your baby will be communicating through your touch, and singing, and facial expressions, and as you talk, sing to and touch your new baby, so they will be learning that you are you, and beginning to know the sight, sound and smell of you. You will begin to make eye contact, and will find that your baby looks intently at you. It seems that babies can look at faces from very early on, and making eye contact with you builds their confidence. So, as you look after your new baby, there are lots of small ways for you to learn about each other.
When you are planning to have a baby, it seems as though it is impossible to ever know all the things you will need to get and to do.
There are lots of magazines and internet sites that you can look at to get ideas about what you will need. If you can of course talk to other new parents as well, to get an idea about what was useful to them. You will find out this way which items are really useful or enjoyable to have, and what advice they found most helpful.
Once you have a rough idea, start making a list of the things you want and have a look at internet sites to get an idea of what is available and prices. If you have relatives or friends who want to get a gift for baby, then they will be glad to know what you would like to have.
Having a baby is an expensive time and you will probably have to compromise on some of the things you would like, so don’t turn your nose up at hand-me-downs from friends. This will leave you with a bit more space in your budget for the necessary items, and for those not quite so necessary indulgent things that you really would like.
Any new baby who arrives this week has impeccable timing – just in time for Mothering Sunday.
So how about a celebration? A new baby gift basket for the new arrival? Or a bottle of something sparkling to toast the parents? It would also be lovely to take new mum and baby’s photographs as a gift to commemorate their first Mothering Sunday.
Even although it’s a special day, Sunday will still feel like the challenging and tiring day that most days with a new baby feel like, but it’s a day that you can choose to consciously allow yourself to relax and enjoy the new feeling of motherhood. If you have someone to help, then you may be able to organise your day so that you have some space and time to really unwind with a long scented bath, or to take it easy with a leisurely lunch, but even if you are on your own, you can prepare a part of the day to pamper yourself with some time to sit down and put your feet up with a good book, or something enjoyable on the television.
Either way, enjoy you first Mothering Sunday, it’s the first of many.
Once the new baby has arrived, life suddenly becomes a rush, which is probably quite a contrast to the last few weeks, when everything seems to slow down. The nine months of pregnancy somehow manage at the same time to go on forever and to pass by in a flash, apart from those last few weeks, when everything seems to go into slow motion as the waiting becomes very real for mum and dad.
Then, once they are home again with the new baby, they discover what life at the double is really like. Friends and relatives will all want to visit to see the new baby and to bring their gifts for the baby and, if they are lucky, for the new parents as well. There will be lots of socialising and phone calls, and in the midst of all this, mum and dad have to learn to look after their new baby as well.
It’s easy with all this going on to think of the new baby and mum, but it’s a shame if the dad is forgotten – he too now has a completely new life and is finding his way around in this new situation.
So, when friends and relatives are visiting and giving gifts, remember dad too.
Some mums-to-be find pregnancy a great confidence booster – one of the advantages of pregnancy is that the normal hair loss we all have slows down, so your hair looks wonderfully thick and shiny. There can be a huge boost of energy too, and a wonderful feeling of wellbeing.
Sadly, not everyone feels like this and other mums-to-be have the opposite experience of feeling sick, tired, uncomfortable and feeling that they look horrible.
In either case, the birth of the baby brings a huge change – suddenly after months of living with the bump, it is gone, and the now proud new mother thinks again of having a waist and maybe even a flat(ish) stomach.
Whether she is now breathing a sigh of relief at no longer feeling awful, or missing that lovely feeling of pregnancy, how could any new mum fail to appreciate a gift of some luxury, pampering bath and skincare products, to make her feel like her own self again?
It doesn’t have to stop with mum though, how nice for the new baby to have some lovely, gently skin balms and oils as well. One of the nicest things for a new mum and her baby to do is to relax together and get to know each other, and encouraging her to pamper herself and the baby will give them both great benefits.
Babies have small feet. Of course, this is obvious, but it leads on to another detail – babies get cold feet. That’s why it’s been traditional for grandmothers and aunts through the ages to spend their time knitting small booties for expected babies.
You may not know how to knit one, purl one, and turn the heel, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot produce a pair of booties for the new arrival. Bootie design has progressed and there are now all sorts of footwear you can give to babies. If you are a traditionalist, you can still buy the knitted type, but if there is a cold snap, a good choice would be some snug sheepskin style booties – what cosy toes a new baby would have in these.
Or, for a not so cold day and for a baby to look smart, you could give some soft leather booties that look more like shoes. Either will keep the baby’s feet lovely and warm and protected from the elements, at the same time looking modern and stylish.
Just don’t expect the baby to walk in them!
Most new mums and dads are proud to show off their new arrival, but they still can find it difficult and disruptive to keep inviting people to their home at the same time as they are developing their new routine with the baby.
A novel idea for a gift, is to provide the venue – suggest to them that you invite them and other friends to your home, so that you can provide refreshments and somewhere comfortable for them to chat to friends and for everyone to meet the new member of the family. Your mutual friends will be pleased to have an opportunity to meet the new baby and give their new baby gifts, knowing that they are not disturbing the new family.
It might be a good idea to suggest that people come for a time between say, 12 noon and 3pm. You could provide some easy snacks and drinks, and friends could drop in as and when they can.
Set aside a private place for feeding or changing the baby, or for mum and dad to spend some time quietly with the baby if they think it is needed.
This will give the new parents a lovely easy way of keeping in touch with their friends without having to disturb their home and routine, which probably feel a bit fragile at this time. Your gift of friendship will be long remembered.
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Gifts for newborn and small babies may seem difficult to choose. Safety is an important consideration and toys need to be easy for tiny hands to hold, and contain bright colours because very young babies cannot clearly focus their eyes.
Toys that are made from soft plastic, with different colours and which can be put in the baby’s mouth are ideal. Children up to the age of about two or three will put things in their mouth because by doing this they understand more about the shape and taste of the things they are touching. Make sure that the toys you are giving to a small baby meet the appropriate standards and are labelled as suitable for under 36 months.
Toys that are designed to be for teething are also ideal, as the baby will be able to chew on it to soothe sore gums. Teething toys that can be cooled in the fridge or with cold water are particularly helpful as the coolness can help to soothe the gums.
Even as early as the first months, everything the baby is does aids their learning and development, so as the baby puts a shape in their mouth, they begin to learn about the connection between what they see and what they can feel.
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