- Following the Light“Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world: Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
John 8:12 (NIV)
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for being the light of the world and the light of my life! Please become the light of Baby’s life too. May we walk in the light, as you are in the light, and enjoy fellowship with other believers. Thank you that if we walk in the light of faith in Christ, then your blood will cleanse us from all sin (I John 1:3,7).
THOUGHT: Lights fascinate. Use soft lights to attract Baby’s attention.
ACTIVITY: Never shine a bright light into your child’s eyes, but you can hold up a shiny object like a nightlight. Put it several feet in front of Baby’s face until Baby sees it. Then, very slowly, move it in various directions, letting Baby’s gaze follow. You can do the same thing with your finger or by holding up a teddy bear or other interesting object, such as a multicolored party favor or even a stick wrapped in shiny aluminum foil. (These are only toys for Baby to see, not handle!) Try standing about one foot away at first, but then move slowly backward and see if Baby’s eyes can follow you. Try moving the object very slowly up over Baby’s head and down towards Baby’s feet, from side to side in a 180° arc, and then closer and further away, between about six inches and five feet. Within a few weeks, Baby will be able to follow you easily with her eyes.
- Becoming a Proficient Nurser“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:8 (NIV)
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the milk of your Word, the Bible, which teaches us how to be saved and grow in our faith. Our access to your word is as abundant as a mother’s milk gushing out. Help us never to take your word for granted or spit it out the way Baby sometimes spits out a nipple! May our drive to take in the Bible be as strong as Baby’s persistent cries when he needs milk, and may we grow as rapidly as our little one!
THOUGHT: If your baby is a sleepy nurser, try rubbing his feet and hands, jiggling him, or singing bright songs. If he’s a chowhound…well, just be thankful!
ACTIVITY: You can make a game out of nipple chasing. If Baby accidentally lets go of the nipple, gently take your breast and rub it against his cheek until he finds it again. If he’s playing with you by spitting it out, take your breast and gently bop him on the nose with it, then move it a little out of the way so he has to search to get it back. Keep chow time light-hearted and happy!
PRAYER: Abba Father, thank you for loving us first. Thank you for all the love you poured out on me before I even knew you existed. As I pour my life into Baby, help me to consider your sacrifices for me. May I grow to love you more deeply, and may Baby come to understand both my love for her and your infinite love for us. Also, please help us share your wonderful love with those around us!
THOUGHT: Truly, being a parent is a tough job! When you find yourself exhausted, frustrated, and impatient, take a minute to consider how hard it must have been for your mom to take care of you, too! Have you thanked her lately? Despite the failures of those who reared us, it’s good to be grateful for the many sacrifices they made so we could survive and have a home.
ACTIVITY: Being with other people is tremendously stimulating for Baby. Affection from friends who are healthy and kind is a mutual blessing, so share love generously! Most importantly, intentionally make opportunities for Baby to interact with her relatives and close family friends. Start making plans for a trip “back home” in the next few months if you can. Baby will get lots of hugs and affirmation just for existing, and you will bring great joy into the lives of those who helped care for you during your youth.
- Friendly Smiles “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV)
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help us to be true friends: first of all to you, by loving and following you faithfully; second of all to one another in our family, making our home a haven of peace and friendship; and finally to all those around us in the world outside our home.
THOUGHT: Is protecting Baby an activity? Absolutely! You can tell when Baby has had enough handling: he gets fretful and whiney. Doubtless Baby feels totally at home and secure with you, but he will not relax as completely when he’s with someone who’s not a member of his immediate family, and he will have a definite time limit for his ability to smile and enjoy company, especially if they are actively engaging him.
ACTIVITY: When Baby needs “Quiet Time,” but isn’t sleepy, then snuggling him on your lap or cradling him in a front pack is a great way to let him see what’s going on without having to directly engage anyone. My kids love the new “moby wraps,” but there are lots of great products out there, or you could make your own with a long piece of cloth. However you do it, find a way to let Baby rest when he’s done being friendly and needs a break…but make sure he can rest in a way that’s comfortable and doesn’t strain your back!
- Balding and Cradle Cap
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving: sing praises on the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow on the mountains.”
Psalm 147:7-8, NKJV
PRAYER: Dear Creator, thank you for the clouds and rain; thank you for the grass that grows on the mountains and the hair that grows on Baby’s head! Help me to take care of my child through every change—both normal and abnormal. Guide us into the ways of wisdom and health.
THOUGHT: A common problem in babies is “cradle cap” (seborrheic dermatitis). It appears as thick, yellowish scales on their heads (or other skin surfaces) and is not dangerous, contagious, or the result of bad hygiene, although it looks unpleasant. If you notice cradle cap on your infant, you can try brushing her hair several times daily with a soft-bristled baby brush to loosen the scales, washing daily with mild baby shampoo, and massages to improve circulation, but be sure to discuss treatments with your doctor.
ACTIVITY: Massaging Baby’s head is both pleasant and helpful, whether or not Baby has a skin problem. Use a soft, circular motion with just the tips of your fingers moving in small circles all around Baby’s head and down the back of her neck. Although cradle cap is not normal, balding is! Almost all babies lose at least some of their downy hair, but more often than not it grows back rather quickly.
- Hungry Babies and Sore Nipples“The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.”
PRAYER: Dear Lord and Master, thank you for inviting us to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need! Thank you for hearing my cries and faithfully giving me what I need when you know it’s best. Help me to heal when I’m sick and still be able to care tenderly and patiently for Baby, even as you care for me with such compassionate affection.
THOUGHT: Debates over “how often” aside, babies need to nurse when they’re hungry. The amount of time between feedings has more to do with how much they drank at the last feeding, how active they’ve been, and how fast they’re growing. You can’t spoil babies by letting them nurse whenever they’re hungry, but you may dishearten a hungry child by delaying feedings. Patience in a child is better learned by waiting for pleasures—not necessities!
ACTIVITY: If your nipples are sore from over-nursing, there are ointments to help. Also, try to lengthen the time between feedings a little by making sure you allow Baby to nurse fully on both sides. Between nursings, use a pacifier, a bottle of warm water, or a ride in something that bounces gently or swings. Try distracting Baby with lovely music. Appeal to all Baby’s senses: touching, hearing, seeing, and smelling as well as tasting.
- Learning to Sleep“I will lie down and sleep in peace: for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
PRAYER: Dear Father of Mercies, thank you for living in a country where there is safety. Even more importantly, thank you for being our true refuge and strength. Thank you that you are our hiding place and the keeper of our souls. Thank you that we can lie down and sleep in peace because you are watching over us. May we always rest in peace because we are resting in your love.
THOUGHT: The less Baby disrupts the comfort and routines of those around her, the happier everyone will be. Daniel, our fifth-born, got so used to activity that he had trouble napping in his crib! When he got tired and really fussy late in the afternoon, I found that the easiest way to get him to sleep was to tuck him into his baby car seat and plunk him down in the middle of the kitchen right where he could watch me fixing dinner and the kids bouncing around everywhere!
ACTIVITY: To help develop Baby’s flexibility, try laying her down for a nap in an unusual (but still safe and warm) place when she is already asleep or nearly so. Help her learn to sleep in various settings and with natural levels of light and sound. Babies can learn to sleep with light and the continuation of routine (but not boisterous) activities, so don’t “baby” your baby too much! Flexibility is a great quality, and you can help her learn.