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The best present you can give parents celebrating the birth of their second baby is an extra set of hands. Many second-time parents will tell you that having another child more than doubles their work, so offer to help with the housework, pick up Junior at preschool, or feed the baby. Here are some other great suggestions to help welcome baby number two:
Dine-in certificates and movie streaming coupons
When the beds are still unmade at five in the afternoon, the firstborn wants attention, and the baby's having a good end-of-the-day cry, the last thing a new mom or dad wants to do is make a meal. So give second-time parents what they really want – one less thing to worry about. Buy a certificate from a food delivery service in their area, or spring for a certificate at their favorite restaurant (just make sure they deliver). While you're at it, throw in a subscription to a movie streaming service. Mom and dad won't be making a trip to the cineplex anytime soon, so keep them, and their firstborn, entertained with the latest movie release.
Home doula service
While mom's in charge of the baby and dad spends time with Junior, who takes care of everything else? Enter the doula. Hire one for a few hours or a whole day, and they'll thank you forever. Doulas can wash the dishes, make dinner, and do the laundry. Plus they're trained to care for newborns, so they can pitch in with the baby when needed. For more information, visit Doulas of North America.
Camera or video camera
Secondborns often get the short end of the stick when it comes to baby pictures. Make sure mom and dad can catch every milestone with a complete photo gear package – a digital still or video camera, a gift certificate for a printing service, photo albums, frames, and even an extra battery or memory card to keep in the diaper bag at all times. This gift can get pricey, especially if you opt for a high-quality video camera, so it's best for groups and generous grandparents.
Books on temperament, sibling relations, etc.
Just as first-time parents need information on how to manage life with a baby, second-time parents need guidance on how to handle life with more than one child. Get them started with The Contented Baby with Toddler Book by Gina Ford, Welcoming Your Second Baby by Vicki Lansky, or Twice Blessed: Everything You Need to Know About Having a Second Child by Joan Leonard. Books on sibling rivalry and temperament are also great choices.
Family membership to a museum
Museums are great destinations for families – most allow strollers, some offer art classes for kids on weekends, and all have the power to nourish the mind and the soul. A membership to a science, art, or children's museum is a wonderful nontraditional family present. Parents will appreciate the fun of a children's museum, and while the kids may not yet be able to tell a Picasso from a Pissaro, they'll like the colors and shapes in the paintings and sculpture. Aquariums and train museums are popular with kids all the way into the school years. Make membership your signature gift – renew it for them year after year.
If second-time parents have a roomy yard (and you've got other friends who will go in on a gift), offer to buy and install a swing set. Their firstborn will swoon over having a mini playground right at his doorstep, and mom and dad won't have to worry about scheduling a walk to the park into their already busy day. The baby can join in the fun when she's a little older. Later you can expand on the set by adding a slide or a sandbox.
Picture this: Your friend has just had a baby and she's so busy with the newborn that she hardly has time for her firstborn, who is disoriented from all the change. In the meantime, her partner is busy trying to keep the household together. A hammock can literally scoop them up and give them the collective hug they sorely need. Just make sure it's big enough for the entire family, and offer to hang it up for them.
Baby bike seat or trailer
If they're biking enthusiasts, no gift will make them happier than a baby bike seat, or trailer, with a matching mini bike helmet. Make sure the helmet you get comes with pads of different thickness to adjust to the child's growing head. And remind them to wait until the baby is at least a year old before hitting the bike trails with her.
Double strollers aren't just for twins. They come in handy for toddler and baby combinations too. Depending on the model, children can enjoy the sights while sitting side by side or one behind the other. As a bonus, add developmentally appropriate stroller toys for each child so both they can entertain themselves while mom and or dad pushes.
The birth of a new baby is earth-shaking to a big event for a sibling, even one who wanted a brother or sister in the first place. And although second-time parents may try hard to include their firstborn, few have enough time to juggle all their duties the way they'd like to. One of the best gifts you can give the family is your time. Offer to babysit for their older child so mom and dad can concentrate on the new baby, or care for the newborn so the older child can have one or both parents all to himself occasionally.