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Top 10: Tips on coping with your newbornRex Features

I feel uncomfortable when assigned the tag of “expert” because I’ve had five children. After all, I’m not an expert on all babies and I wasn’t even an expert on my newborns.

However, that said, I do sometimes look at new mothers these days and think “oh, if only I could tell you this or that”. But I don’t want to get a reputation as an interfering old know-all in my real life.

Here, I have no such qualms so I have written out my top ten tips on coping, whether it’s your first or fourth. I shall, however, try to stop short of saying “in my day……”. 
1. Ignorance can sometimes be bliss: I’m not talking about not knowing the signs ofmeningitis or preeclampsia, of course. But I had no idea that having a c-section was supposed to make breastfeeding harder, for example. It wasn’t a walk in the park at first but I didn’t know any different and stuck at it. And, if you haven’t had your baby yet, don’t talk to women about their birth experiences.
2. Have a babymoon: Admittedly this was a new concept to me but one I wholeheartedly embraced with babies four and five. It’s hard to do but really important. You chill out in your PJs, preferably in bed at home, with your little one (and partner too, although he is on kitchen duty) for at least a week. And if you have other children they can join you, but once you’re dressed you’re back to full-on doing-it-all mode. If there’s one thing you do from this list, let it be this one. 

3. Embrace imperfection: The laundry piling up, the dust settling, being in your nightclothes still at 4pm — all of that doesn’t matter. Things will get done. Just not right now and not as quickly as you’re used to. Exhale, let it go and snuggle with your baby. That’s all that matters.

4. Accept help: I know, this can also be tricky. People say “if you need any help let me know” which is a cop out because then you have to take the initiative. But take it you shall. Tell them you’d like nothing better if they could bake you one of their chocolate cakes/take your toddler out/cuddle the baby while you take a bath. They’ll be flattered to be asked and if they’re not, perhaps it might teach them not to make empty offers.

5. Forget putting your baby in proper clothes: I did this for the first few months (but maybe that’s because I’m lazy). Those teeny pairs of jeans look so cute but avoid at all costs. Babies need changing with alarming regularity and really, you don’t need to give yourself more work. Plus, I never thought proper clothes looked all that soft for little ones. Babies in white babygros with a knitted cardigan, on the other hand, look lovely.

6. Go to National Childbirth Trust antenatal classes: NCT classes are not populated by placenta eating, natural birthing hippies, at least not round my way. Mothers who join them seem to form such tight knit groups that trying to infiltrate is harder than joining the Freemasons. You will meet other mothers everywhere but having friends with babies very close in age, at least at first, is priceless. Avoid competitive mums though.

7. Dismiss 99% of all advice: Apart from this list, obviously. It is all very well people telling you to “leave the baby to cry” but it’s not them standing there with leaky breasts and tears streaming down their face. Do it your way (which could also mean leaving the baby to cry). You’re not a perfect mum (who is?) but you’re the perfect mum for your baby. Repeat it under your breath as a mantra.

8. Don’t get your baby weighed too often: I made this mistake at first. You feel so good when baby puts on nearly a pound (a pound!) in a week, especially if it’s thanks to your boobs. But a paediatrician advised me that monthly visits to the baby clinic are enough because you get too much “noise” on the chart otherwise (they will put on more weight some weeks than others, it’s the overall pattern that counts apparently). Obviously go if you have a question or concern but you know if your baby is thriving.

9. Breastfeed: Controversial, I realise, but I can’t ignore it. It was probably one of the best things I have ever done. It wasn’t easy. My nipples felt like they were trapped in a red hot vice for what felt like hours at first. Apart from all the well documented benefits, it means you have to slow down to baby’s pace. Don’t be afraid to use all the advice there is. With my fifth baby I had to enlist a breast feeding counsellor’s help. If you don’t want to do it, or can’t do it, that’s fine too. Your baby will still thrive.

10. Enjoy it: It’s corny but oh so true that this time really does go by so quickly. I don’t want any more children, but if I could have a superpower I’d choose to travel back in time to when mine were babies. I would worry less, choose who I spent my precious time with more wisely but I really wouldn’t change much. I snuggled lots and the housework built up but I enjoyed them so much.

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sunny glass

You see it in color, 
You see it in black and white, 
You see it differently, 
Only through the sunglasses.
The sunglasses are magical, 
They turn black and white into color, 
And color into black and white.
How does this happen? 
No one even knows.
I ask so many questions, 
About these mysterious sunglasses, 
But I can’t crawl deep enough, 
to find the far away answers.
I have asked so many questions, 
I no longer have anymore, 
They will never be answered, 
This mystery will never be solved.
Yes, the sunglasses, 
I have them still with me, 
They turn black and white into color, 
And color into black and white.

Lauren Meredith Gould

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Want to get your kids started on some new crafts at home? Buy them a book – we’ve rounded up 10 of the best.

Crafting With Kids

Crafting With Kids

This bright, fun book has 35 colourful projects for both girls and boys, including fancy dress costumes and seasonal decorations. Get kids started on potatoe prints, papier mache, sewing, stencilling and puppet making.

By Catherine Woram, it costs £12.99, Ryland Peters & Small(opens in a new window).

Crochet for children book

Crochet For Children

If your kids are keen to crochet, this book will get them started. Basic techniques are covered (perfect for beginner adults, too!) and there are 35 achievable projects – from simple juggling balls to more ambitious ideas, such as a scarf, rag doll and teddy bear.

By Claire Montgomerie, it costs £14.99, Cico Books(opens in a new window).

Craft book

Christmas Crafting With Kids

Ideal as a pre-Christmas gift or just as a year-round sourcebook (who says Christmas crafts have to be limited to the festive period), this book has 35 seasonal projects, beautifully photographed.

By Catherine Woram, it costs £14.99, Ryland Peters & Small(opens in a new window).

craft book

Christmas Crafting In No Time

Packed with 50 step by step Christmas projects, this book is ideal for older kids or young adults who want to have a go at sewing, stamping, decorating and even cooking. Projects include papier mache tree baubles, reindeer and mice and stockings to make.

By Clare Youngs, it costs £14.99, Cico Books(opens in a new window).

craft book

Cute Clothes For Kids

Not so much for kids as for adults who want to make clothes for kids. This book has 25 projects for 0 to five year olds, and includes full-size, pull-out patterns and templates to make over 40 items.

By Rob Merrett, it costs £12.99, Ryland Peters & Small(opens in a new window).

Felt Button Bead book

Felt Button Bead

Get ready to devote your old socks, fabric remnants and clothes they’ve grown out of to their new obsession for fabric-based crafts. This book has 40 fun projects, including sock glove puppets, hand-print tea towels, decorated jeans, and belts and badges.

By Catherine Woram, it costs £14.99, Ryland Peters & Small(opens in a new window).

How To Knit book

How To Knit

This simple introduction to knitting has step by step instructions to get them started, followed by 25 easy to achieve projects, starting with simple ideas, such as scarves, working up to knitted toys and accessories for their rooms and clothes.

It costs £12.99, Usborne Publishing(opens in a new window).

Making Cards Book

Making Cards

If they love making cards for their friends and relatives, why not give them ideas to copy. This book has 26 ideas – from simple swirly flowers to cute fabric collage animals, fold-out and pop-up cards – and there’s also instructions for making envelopes and ideas for wrapping paper.
By Fiona Watt, it costs £9.99, Usborne Publishing(opens in a new window).

Starting Needlecraft Book

Starting Needlecraft

Ideal for beginners to needlecraft, this fun book has simple instructions and easy to achieve projects to get them started. There are also internet links to help them develop their skills once they become more adept.

It costs £4.99, Usborne Publishing(opens in a new window).

Super Cute Felt

Super Cute Felt

This book has 35 simple step by step projects – from hair accessories to toy animals to snuggle with. Fun for kids to do – and adult beginners seem to love lots of the projects, such as coasters, tea cosies and brooches, too!

By Laura Howard, it costs £12.99,

Why not send in your Crafty kids Ideas to poetreecreations@yahoo.com

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sunshine

A hint of sunshine and the kids are off like a shot, but catch them with the sun-cream to keep that sensitive skin safe from UV damage.

Why sunscreen matters

One hint of sunshine and we’ll bet your kids are stripped off and gone, leaving you waving a sun-cream bottle and bleating for them to ‘come back right now!’. Sound familiar? It’s enough to make you wonder whether it’s worth the effort. It is. A child’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than an adult’s, so they are at greater risk of suffering damage from exposure to UV radiation, says Melanie Anglesey.

The four hours either side of midday are the times at which you should take the greatest care in the sun. Avoid long periods of exposure to your skin between 10am and 3pm. Children should wear protective clothing, preferably with a high ultraviolet protection factor – UPF factor. The areas to keep covered are the neck, legs and arms. Opt for a wide brimmed or legionnaires hat (with UPF) and sunglasses (with an environmental protection factor – EPF) to protect the eyes.

Children’s skin needs high protection. Use sunscreen with a high SPF factor to protect exposed areas and choose hypoallergenic sun creams or those for children’s sensitive skin, as the chemicals in some sun creams can irritate children’s skin.

Remember that skin can burn even on cloudy days and prolonged exposure to the heat can lead to heat stroke, so take regular breaks in the shade and offer children plenty of water to drink.

Sun safety tips

  • Babies and infants should be kept out of the sun at all times.
  • Always put a broad-brimmed hat on children – a flap down the back gives added protection.
  • Invest in some sun-protection clothing or, at a pinch, dress them in cool, light-coloured clothes
  • Apply sunscreen half an hour before going outside to allow absorption, then reapply regularly, especially after swimming or towel-drying.
  • Apply sunscreen generously and use a minimum SPF15 on kids (lighter skins burn more easily so higher ratings required). Make sure sunscreen offers UVB and UVA protection.
  • Use a waterproof sunscreen (SPF15) for children when swimming or playing outdoors with water, and reapply regularly.
  • Use 100 per cent UV-blocking sunglasses with wrap-around protection.
  • Plan trips and garden play that avoids 11am to 3pm peak intensity.
  • Encourage children to play in the shade.

Find out more

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sunshine

  • Set good habits for the future Teaching children safe sun habits while they are young sets a good pattern for later life.
  • Remember you can burn in the UK The Great British sun is quite capable of burning your child! Take extra care at home as well as abroad.
  • Use shade Keep babies in complete shade: under trees, umbrellas, canopies or indoors. Provide shade for prams and buggies, if possible.
  • Cover them up When outdoors, protect a baby’s skin with loose-fitting clothes, and a wide-brimmed hat that shades their face, neck and ears.
  • Wear sunglasses Buy good quality, wraparound sunglasses for children, as soon as they can wear them. Sunglasses don’t have to be expensive brands.
  • Find hats they like Encourage children to wear hats with brims, especially if they are not wearing sunglasses. The wider the brim, the more skin will be shaded from the sun.
  • Use sunscreen wisely Use at least a factor 15 sunscreen and choose a “broad-spectrum” brand that protects against UVA rays – the more stars the better. Apply to areas that cannot be protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands. Choose sunscreens that are formulated for children and babies’ skin. These products are less likely to contain alcohol or fragrances that might irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions.
  • Apply sunscreen generously and regularly. Put some on before children go outdoors. Sunscreen can easily be washed, rubbed or sweated off – so reapply often throughout the day.
  • Don’t forget school times Remember play times and lunch breaks on summer school daystoo. Give children a hat to wear and, if they can’t apply sunscreen at school, cover their exposed skin before they go.

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The winter weather is slowly sneaking up on us and soon we’ll all be heading out to enjoy lots of fun, but cold festivities. We want our little ones to have a good time and enjoy the sites and activities and the last thing we want to spoil their holiday cheer is becoming a popsicle. One thing we know is that it’s cold, but how do we keep the kiddos warm and dry?

Let’s think layers. It’s much easier to remove layers than to wish you had more to cover up with, and when it comes to children who use the potty or even diaper changes, separates are the most easy.

  • Shy away from cotton. Believe it or not cotton, (the fabric of our lives) is not the best choice as the bottom layer. Cotton will only absorb moisture and stick to your child’s body. Instead opt for a polyester fabric that will wick moisture away from your little one’s body.
  • The next layer should be some type of fleece. {All that fluff holds in heat.}
  • The coat should act as a protective, waterproof, insulating covering.
How to Keep your Kids Warm

Some other great tips for keeping your children warm in the winter:

Keep an extra pair of socks and gloves on hand and a pair in the car as well, in case the original pair gets wet.

Mittens keep fingers warmer than gloves.  Just imagine little digits wiggling in the cold. If your little one does not want to wear mittens, the mitten/glove hybrids are a great alternative and make both mom and child happy.

Hats. Yes they may snatch it off a zillion times, but with the wind chill and cool air it is necessary. Try one with a chin strap to secure it.

Scarves are great but if you can opt for a snood {scarf + hood = snood}. Less chance of unraveling and avoiding a choking hazard.

For infants your best bet is an all-in-one outfit or onesie. Find one that comes with a hood, flaps that fold over the hands, closed footies and zippers NOT SNAPS!  You’ll be thankful for that when its time to change diapers.  Keep it simple.

Remembering these great bundling up tips are sure to keep those kiddos warm and toasty as you “Jingle Bells”, “Deck the Halls”  and go “Dashing Through the Snow” this holiday season!

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