“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Psalm 98:4
PRAYER: Oh Lord, our King: Jesus said that even the rocks would cry out in praise if the children of men refuse to do so. May Baby learn to praise you from her earliest days!
THOUGHT: Note from my linguistics-major-from-Stanford niece: “Later on, when children are trying to learn to speak specific words correctly, do not adopt their mispronunciations because they seem cute to you. Keep speaking correctly so the child has proper modeling as she struggles to perfect her own pronunciations.”
ACTIVITY: Some parents only talk in baby talk to their babies; some parents never talk in baby talk to their children. I think there is a room for both! When you coo and repeat sounds that Baby makes, it helps her understand that sounds can be imitated and repeated. She knows you’re interacting with her, and that will often stimulate her to become more verbal. She will also take joy in your “talking” together, which will establish a solid foundation for communication. Speaking to Baby like you would to other adults helps her understand that the sounds you make are meant to communicate with her as well as others, and she begins to get used to the patterns, tones, and rhythms of speech. So, Baby needs both types of communication and profits from both. If you haven’t been up to talking in “infant talk,” how about getting right down into the nitty-gritty of being on her level today and practice making all those cool noises that she can make. Blow some bubbles with your “ba-ba-bas” and show her how to do “ma-ma-ma” and “da-da-da” too.
“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”
PRAYER: Precious El Shaddai, the all sufficient one, our nourisher and sustainer, thank you for the Bible, both the milk of the word to sustain babes in Christ, and the meat of the word to challenge the most mature and intellectually astute believers. May we treasure your words above silver and gold and esteem them more than our necessary food. Order our steps in your Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over us. Amen.
THOUGHT: Are you reading the Bible to Baby? Of all habits (beyond sustaining physical life), I can’t think of anything more critical than the daily habit of meditating on the Bible and prayer. It is like spiritual breathing—breathing in the Word and breathing out prayerful response. Many call this “daily devotions,” and it is the spiritual feeding habit that provides nourishment for our spiritual life.
ACTIVITY: Of course, Baby won’t understand what you’re saying if you read to her, but including Baby in a short time of Bible reading and prayer every day lays the foundation for this best-of-all, life long habit. Have you already established your own devotional study time? If you have, and it’s while Baby is sleeping, I wouldn’t do anything to change that! But, perhaps you could begin by reading just one verse a day with Baby first thing after feeding and washing up. Or, perhaps you could read this little book together day by day, talking about the verse in particular, your plans for trying to implement any of the ideas you like, and ending by praying the prayer together.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 (ESV)
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for names. Thank you for sharing with us in the Scripture some of your names that sparkle like facets of a diamond: Almighty God, Shepherd, King, Creator, Rock, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Author of Salvation, Counselor, Friend, Wonderful, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, The Bright and Morning Star, Comforter, Teacher, Jesus Christ, Lord of Lord and King of Kings…your names are like healing balm for the soul. Thank you for giving us “pet” names too: sons of God, children of God, believers, Christians, saints, etc. May we always call Baby by names that will delight her, encourage her, and inspire her to goodness!
THOUGHT: Do you have pet names for Baby? I’ve read articles that suggest pet names are almost universal and signify intimacy and endearment. In my natal family, my siblings and I all had multiple nicknames for each family member…some sweet and some pretty nutty. One of the many that comes to my mind is “Lambie Pie.” Some of our names for Aaron when he was a baby included Little Monkey, Punkin, Lambie, Punkie Bear and Baby Cakes.
ACTIVITY: Do you have pet names for Baby? If so, how about writing them out today? If you don’t have pet names, or if you’d like to think of more, take a few minutes and make some up! Your baby will feel very loved and honored in years to come if she can look back and read the affectionate names you and your husband had for her!
“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.”
PRAYER: Dear Father, all-wise and infinitely ingenious creator, thank you for speech! Thank you for every sound that Baby is learning to make! May he, by your grace, become articulate and able to express himself. May he always rejoice in you and shout for joy because you love him and defend him.
THOUGHT: Baby doesn’t need to hear you whining and crying back at he if she is being cranky. That’s “fighting fire with fire” as they say and simply adds negative static to an atmosphere already charged with unhappiness. However, there is a time for exuberance and exaggerated expression, and excited communication with Baby is good for both of you! Aaron’s firstborn, Reuben, earned the nickname “Shrieking Eel” at this stage! I have several friends with autistic children who do not speak, so rejoice with your child in the sounds of joy. Verbal communication is a tremendous privilege!
ACTIVITY: “Rock and Roll:” Place Baby tummy down on a large ball and gently roll him in various directions while supporting him under his arms so he can practice balancing his head, arms, and legs. After a few minutes, lay Baby on his tummy on the floor, and very gently roll the plastic ball around on his tummy as a “tummy massage.” See if he won’t grab the ball and move his arms with you. Finally, if Baby can sit up a little with back support, put him in a sitting position and let him hold the ball in his arms while you gently move it slightly up and down, in and out, and around in circles.
- Immunizations and Records“With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah.”
2 Chronicles 32:8
PRAYER: Precious Healer and Defender, thank you that you are the LORD our God and you fight our battles for us. As parents, we are helpless to make Baby’s shots effective in protecting her from disease. You are the one who takes the immunizations and makes them into something good in our lives to protect us from more deadly exposures to disease. Help us to accept all the inoculations of life—all the trials and tribulations—understanding that it is for our good. Just as you delivered King Hezekiah when he cried out to you some 2,700 years ago, we know that we can still rest on your promises today.
THOUGHT: Organization is a real key to locking in efficiency and locking out frustration. The more children, the more necessary organization becomes, but if you develop good organizational habits from the outset, you will save huge amounts of time and frustration over your mothering career.
ACTIVITY: By now Baby is probably starting to have some pretty special firsts. Would you consider making a chart where you list the date and feat? I noticed that over the years I sometimes lost track of the kids’ immunization cards. A large manila envelope, some file folders, or even a legal-sized envelope will work. Consider making a record keeper for Baby’s physical milestones and health information. Have a special place for it, maybe in the top right-hand corner of Baby’s clothing drawer or with your own health records. Just be sure you keep it somewhere specific and easy to access, so you’ll actually use it.
- Fostering Friendships“He who walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
PRAYER: Dear Abba, Father…our God who called Abraham his friend, thank you for coming to us as Immanuel, “God with us,” and as “God incarnate”…God in the flesh. Thank you that Christ walked among men, loved them, taught them, healed them, and called his disciples his “friends.” My dear father and friend, please bless our baby! May we as a family be worthy of being known as the friends of God! Lord, like King David, may each of us in our family always be “a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.” Help us to choose wise, loving, and loyal friends to be our close companions, and may we be wise, loving, and loyal friends to others.
THOUGHT: Reaching out in friendship, especially with other young mothers who have children close to the age of yours, is a great way for both mothers and babies to multiply the pleasures and divide the pains related to this stage of life.
ACTIVITY: Do you have a friend who has a baby close to the age of your baby? If you do, it would be well worth the investment for both you and Baby to interact with your friend and her child on a regular basis. Maybe you could set up a weekly or monthly lunch, prayer, and share time while the babies play, alternating homes so that each mother only needs to host once or twice a month. If you don’t already have a close friend with whom you’d enjoy spending so much time, maybe you could invite various friends from your church family over so that you can get to know each other better.
“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
John 13:5 (ESV)
PRAYER: Dear Father, I know it is worldly wisdom that declares “cleanliness is next to godliness,” but what a privilege it is to live in a country where it isn’t hard to keep clean! We don’t have to draw our water from a village well and carry it up a steep hill. We don’t live on a landfill or have a dirt floor. Most of us have warm, running water at our fingertips any time of the day or night. Thank you for life’s cup overflowing with blessings. Not only warm water to make our bodies fresh and clean, but the water of life to purify our hearts. Surely cleanliness of heart is next to godliness, because you have assured us, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
THOUGHT: Bath time should be one of the most relaxing, pleasurable times of day, and even the process of getting dressed can be fun.
ACTIVITY: Try wrapping Baby in a towel and “flying” him (held securely in your hands) around the bathroom over to the changing table before you dress him. If Baby responds with pleasure, then it could become a simple part of your routine that costs you nothing but a moment’s time and gives Baby a little treat to anticipate. On different days you could have different modes of transportation. Baby boys love screeching car brakes, braying donkeys, and sputtering motorboat sounds with lots of fast action. Some girls doubtless do too, although others may prefer more gentle rides on the wings of unseen angels or securely inside a coach drawn by imaginary, prancing white horses.