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Counting Sheep

I remember the sheer bewilderment we felt the first night we were home from the hospital with our daughter. We were all a bit traumatised from her entrance into the world and it perhaps didn’t help matters that we got home around 10.30 at night. At that point, due to my random superstitions and paranoia, we still had to put a sheet in the crib and work out how the bottle steriliser worked.

Do you remember the first time?

The calm before the veritable storm

The calm before the veritable storm

On arriving home, we placed our daughter in her car seat on the sofa. At the opposite end sat the cat who, along with the rest of us, had little idea of the impending crisis about to hit us all. What the hell were we supposed to do with our little bundle of joy??

That was the calm before the storm. Then the crying began. Me and her.

We tried putting her in her crib. She cried. We tried holding her and cuddling her. She cried. We tried feeding her. She drank a bit. And then she cried.

“Well, she was quiet in her car seat – let’s put her back in that.”

The car seat was placed carefully on our bed and our daughter was put in safely and securely and we rocked the car seat. She cried. We got her out of the car seat. And still she cried. It was getting towards 4 o’clock in the morning and none of us had slept for the preceding 72 hours.

“What was that sheep thing you got at that baby show thing you went to?” asked my husband.

Gingerly, I stood up (as I did most things gingerly for the first few weeks) and rifled through the wardrobe full of things I’d bought during pregnancy, not really knowing what would be useful and what would be a waste of money. And there I found Ewan; still in his packaging – luckily with batteries in him.

We pressed one of his legs (I forget which one) and through the calming tones of the sound of rain we heard it for the first time. Silence. Contentment on our daughter’s part. We’d calmed her!!

I can’t remember a worst time

Ewan the Dream Sheep

Calming the storm

OK, so I’m not sure how much credit we can take for it, but from that first night, Ewan the Dream Sheep became a stalwart of our nightly routine. He’s also played a part at nap times, not to mention he became a sleep aid to my husband and I when we were sleeping in shifts, desperately trying to catch 40 winks in the day time so we could cope with the night times!

On the outside, Ewan the Dream Sheep doesn’t look that special. He’s got a quirky face, he’s soft and cuddly and he glows. So what – so do many other cuddly toys for babies.

What makes Ewan the Dream Sheep a special is that, when pressed, each of his legs plays calming and soothing sounds which are perfect for a baby.  One is a lullaby, whilst the other three play soothing white noise sounds of the hoover, rain or womb sounds.  I know there are various apps you can buy for far cheaper that play similar things, but aside from the fact they’re not as cute as Ewan the Dream Sheep, you’re then left without your phone, iPad or other device whilst your baby sleeps!

ewan-the-dream-sheep

Peace at last!

Don’t you know that we’ve changed so much since then, oh yeah, we’ve grown

As our daughter now nears one year old, I’m more than aware there are various schools of thought on sleep cues. Indeed, I wondered for a time whether our potential overuse of  Ewan the Dream Sheep had meant she couldn’t settle herself to sleep without him.  But I’m happy to say that not only is Ewan now played with during the day as a teddy, she can sleep without him if needs be, but does still enjoy his gentle harp lullaby each night whilst she’s crawling round the cot having a quick adventure before bed!

Visit us at www.practicalbabygifts.com

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Rockin’ in a Shy Way

3 x Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, 2 x Oranges & Lemons, 1 x Baa Baa Black Sheep, 1 x Beautiful Dreamer, 1 x classical ditty from a bank advert in the ’90s…just some of the plinky-plonky lullaby tunes so far endured in trying to get our little one off to sleep in the past few months. Oh, and I forgot – a few versions of ‘Rockabye Baby’. But not on a tree top….!

The cradle will rock

lullaby-renditions-of-the-cureNope – the Rockabye Baby I refer to is soothing music at its best.  It’ll rock your baby to sleep whilst keeping you entertained with humming along to the songs you know and love – albeit, they might sound a little bit different.  What Rockabye Baby does is transform rock favourites into instrumental lullabies.  Guitars and drums are traded for Xylophones and bells.  And they’ve been a sanity saver! Whether you prefer the more classic rock titles from Queen, or the poptastic Madonna, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.  And it’s educational for babies too!

Boys Don’t Cry

Well, baby boys probably do.  But here are some of our favourites from Practical Baby Gifts.

Heaven knows I’m miserable now

Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

When I’ve mentioned Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths to friends, many have suggested it might be a bit too depressing for a baby!  But what can be more entertaining whilst getting increasibly frustrated with a non-sleeping baby, than hearing (in your head) Morrissey lament Thatcher’s Britain through the medium of harp music?!

Tonight, Tonight

If today is the greatest day you’ve ever known and tomorrow’s much too long, then the Lullaby Renditions of Smashing Pumpkins is for you.  This is a definite treat to the ears and number one on my list of practical baby gifts for a few friends…they’ll just need to actually have a baby first!  (When they’re ready of course!).

Enjoy the Silence

If you just can’t get enough of Depeche Mode, this one’s for you!  We tested (possibly) one of DM;s biggest fans recently with tasters of the Lullaby Renditions of Depeche Mode and can attest to their authenticity!  I think the score was seven out of eight!

In Bloom

Or for the friend in your life who’s In Bloom, but still prone to reliving her grunge-youth, there’s always Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana.  Whilst we can’t promise it comes packaged in a Heart Shaped Box, the CD does offer very faithful renditions of Kurt et al’s best work.

Not yet in production, but here's hoping - Lullaby Renditions of The Doors

Not yet in production, but here’s hoping – Lullaby Renditions of The Doors

The time to hesitate is through

i could go on….and I think you’ll guess from the selection of Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions CDs we’ve chosen so far, our grunge and Britpop leanings have slightly tainted our decisions!

And then there are the titles Rockabye Baby are yet to turn into Lullaby Renditions!  Whilst the vaguely ‘cool’ part of me is leaning towards the production of a Lullaby Renditions of The Doors, there’s a large part of me hankering for lullaby versions of Belinda Carlisle!

What do you think?  Aside from the artists already given the Rockabye Baby treatment – who would you like your little ones to drop off to?

If you’re looking for something a little bit different to give as a baby gift – look no further! than http://www.practicalbabygifts.com/sleep-time/soothing-music

Or view our whole range of Practical Baby Gifts at practicalbabygifts.com

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Our Guide to Buying Baby Gifts

The Practical Baby Gifts Guide to Buying Baby Gifts

When buying for a new parent or baby it’s easy to be overwhelmed.  We’re all guilty of choosing something that’s pretty over something that’s practical, and with so much choice out there, it’s easy to get carried away.  Here at Practical Baby Gifts, we’d like to share a few observations that may help you when trying to find the perfect baby gift for your loved ones.

Practically perfect in every way!

Practically perfect in every way!

Parents are still people too

Contrary to what some people think, ‘new mum’ didn’t have a lobotomy nine months ago and lose all her personality and style preferences.  If you’ve never seen the new mum you’re buying for wearing pink, chances are she’ll have strong views about not dressing her little darling in shades of pastel pink.  The same goes for nursery accessories.  Similarly, some new parents want to express themselves and their clothing tastes through their little ones.  With the increased availability of mini band and film t-shirts, it’s more and more likely a mini Blur t-shirt will be better received than a ‘Daddy loves me’ t-shirt.

Buying clothes is a minefield

Buying clothes for a new baby can be tricky.  If you’re buying before the baby’s born, you don’t know what size it will be.  I’ve had friends with babies ranging from 4lbs to 12lbs, meaning it can be months before even newborn sized clothes come into use, or they may never be used at all.  With clothes, at best, they’re going to get 6-12 weeks’ wear.  With so many other people likely to buy  clothes as well, the new parents will have such a range that they won’t have chance to dress the baby in half the outfits they receive – meaning that what time they don’t spend washing the clothes, they spend feeling guilty for not getting much wear out of the baby clothes.

Toys and other accessories have a longer shelf-life

Most toys, whether soft toys, hanging toys, teethers or rattles, have a far longer shelf-life than clothes.  If you buy clothes, chances are you won’t see the baby in them anyway, but you’re far more likely to see them using and enjoying a toy for six months to a year and maybe beyond.

Other useful items such as towels, muslin cloths and sleeping bags will be used time and time again, and will be remembered as far more practical gifts from new parents.

Don’t expect ‘Thank You’ cards for at least three months

In fact don’t expect ‘Thank You’ cards at all.  People show gratitude in many ways, and a heartfelt Thank You at the time of giving and receiving the gift should be enough to show you it’s appreciated.  Many new parents don’t have the time, inclination or indeed money to spend on writing Thank You cards, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love and appreciate your gift.  Personally it means far more to see a baby using a present months on, or to have the parents comment about how ‘so-and-so loves the present you bought him’ six months later, than a Thank You card I’ve long since discarded.

If the new mum is Wonder Woman and manages to arrange buying cards or ordering personalised cards, then it’s a bonus.  It’s even more of a bonus if you receive one within three or four months of the baby being born.  Before that time, she’ll have been lucky to have five minutes to herself when she’s not feeding, bathing, washing or generally recovering!

Mums need to feel special too…

I’m not saying it’s not lovely to receive lots of pretty and practical gifts for a new baby.  But equally, mums need to feel special too.  She’s just been through a hell of an ordeal.  Whether the birth was straightforward or otherwise – it was a complete bodyshock.  Take some flowers (preferably already in a vase) or just some cake and sandwiches, as chances are food for herself is the last thing on her mind!  If you want to treat Mum, consider something practical like a new changing bag or something that she’s likely to use time and time again that will make her feel special and treated.

…As do Dads!

Whether it’s taking Dad for a pint, or taking him some chocolate round for energy, don’t forget New Dad either!

What have you experienced when you’ve given a new baby gift, or received one?

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