142. Helping Baby Practice His Moves
“When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.” Psalm 94:18
PRAYER: O LORD, thank you for your mercy, and for holding us up during countless occasions when we would stumble or fall were it not for your grace. Thank you also for helping us up when we do fall and setting us back on our feet. Thank you for making us flexible and resilient so that we do not usually break when we fall. Bless Baby with watchful parents. Help us to anticipate problems so we can avoid them like the wise man who sees the evil lying in wait ahead and hides himself. Thank you that your angels excel in strength, hearken to your voice, and obey your commandments. I pray that you would give your angels charge over Baby to keep him in all her ways, lest he dash his foot against a stone… or slip in the bathtub, suffocate, drown, or be injured in any accident!
THOUGHT: Babies are so flexible! Never try to increase your baby’s flexibility, but be sure to help him enjoy what naturally exists. Aaron got so he could catch his own toes and put them in his mouth. Babies love games, and if you can do something for Baby that you know he can also do for himself, he will probably find pleasure in having you help him sometimes, although—obviously—if Baby resists any of these motions or doesn’t seem to enjoy the game, then stop!
ACTIVITY: Ideas: take Baby’s hand gently and put it to his mouth, or take his hand and put it on his knee. Take his arms and cross them over each other across his chest. Take his arms, and if they’ll reach around his great, big head, let his hands touch each other over his head. While Baby’s sitting on your lap, you can lift his arms up and down in front of his body or gently bend his legs into the “frog kick” position. He’ll have fun feeling the slightly different sensations of your locomoting for him!
143. Coming and Going, but Never Forsaking
“Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me.” Psalm 38:21
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for the encouragement that Moses gave to Joshua: “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Lord, we want to claim that promise for our family. Thank you that you never fail or forsake your own, but that you go before us and lead us like a shepherd leading his sheep. May we always listen for your voice and follow you!
THOUGHT: A beloved babysitter is not only a great thing for you, it’s a very good thing for Baby and will teach her things and broaden her in ways that you cannot! Just make sure your babysitter is godly, honorable, kind, and trustworthy. We once hired the sister of a girl we knew and trusted (we were no longer living in Detroit at the time), but we found out later (after investigation) that the girl had been abused herself and was an unfit babysitter (she mistreated Aaron). Just being related to someone who is super doesn’t mean that the other person is super. Better to miss your date than take an unknown “second best” who may be worst.
ACTIVITY: Have you been out for a while? How about planning a date night? If you have a good sitter who obviously loves your baby and invests in him, great! If not, take the time to check with friends and find one. Let Baby experience a little taste of other caregivers from time to time. Just as the Lord never really leaves us, but there are times when we feel alone, so leaving Baby for a few hours will stretch him but help him learn that even when you’re out of sight, he’s never out of your mind, and you will return again. (The photo above is really of a beloved aunt, not a babysitter, but you get the picture! 🙂 )
144. Lullaby and Goodnight
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3
PRAYER: Abba, Father, we commit Baby to your tender care. Help him to find peace, rest, and secure sleep, trusting in you even before he’s old enough to understand or articulate his feelings. We ask that you will send your Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to brood over Baby. We know that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth who comes from you. May he testify of you to Baby, ministering to him, teaching him, awakening his little spirit to understand spiritual realities, and interceding for him with “groanings which cannot be uttered.” We know it is the Spirit that breathes life into our spirits so that we are born again. May your Holy Spirit, like a gentle wind, awaken Baby to a consciousness of you and a peace in your presence. May he believe in you from earliest times and eagerly seek and receive your salvation!
THOUGHT: Night awakenings and frights are common at this age. If Baby wakes up for no apparent reason and cries during the night, reassure him. He is probably developing what is called “separation anxiety,” which means he’s old enough to understand that mother is not always with him and feels frightened whenever she’s absent.
ACTIVITY: If Baby seems hard to comfort in the night, try singing and praying with him. If only nursing will calm him down, then let him nurse. There is a time for bravery, but it’s not when you’re an infant! Babies under a year old have no way of understanding anything beyond their primitive experiences, so lavish him with love and reassurance. If possible, leave Baby secure, content, and very drowsy, but not quite asleep sometimes, so that he learns it’s “okay” to be left alone.
145. When Baby Cries and You Don’t Know Why…
“Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8
PRAYER: Dear Father! You are all wise, all knowing, and always available. Your ears are always open to the upright in heart, and your mercy extends to the heavens to reach even those of us mortals who feel more downright than upright sometimes: downright confused, frustrated, and over our heads. We borrow thoughts from Solomon’s prayer: You have given us a precious child, therefore please give us understanding hearts, so that we may know how to respond wisely, for who is able to care for so valuable a child?
THOUGHT: How can you give a child all she needs without giving her all she wants until she becomes demanding and unpleasant? That is the million dollar question all parents would love to have answered by some magic genie who would promise to be available to them 24/7. Guess what? Every believer has someone wiser than a genie who is available 24/7 and promises to hear our pleas for help and grant us wisdom. What’s the answer to your baby’s current problem? I don’t know, but the Lord does!
ACTIVITY: Next time Baby cries for no discernible reason and nothing seems to help, try taking her into your arms and holding a little prayer meeting with her. If you have not already done so, dedicate your baby to the Lord. Tell him you acknowledge Baby as his child and know that you are simply God’s steward. Ask God to guide you into becoming the kindest, wisest, most loving parent you can possibly be. Ask God to help you make the best possible choices as you attempt to bring Baby up in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). And then, go forward in faith, trusting him to guide you.
146. Lifting Up Our Hands
“My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.” Psalm 119:48
PRAYER: Oh, Lord, thank you that Baby can lift up his hands! May I always be grateful for the things Baby can do, because some children cannot do even the simplest things. Lord, I lift up my hands and my soul to you! “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.” Bless Baby, dear Lord! Thank you for each tiny finger and hand. Thank you that Baby can lift up his hands and touch my face. May I always take joy in quiet, gentle communion with Baby, and even after all the children you may give us are grown, may our family always cherish time for affection and sharing love.
THOUGHT: Baby may or may not be too young to make a clear connection between what he touches and the name of the object, but he’ll sure learn faster if you start trying to teach him! When he reaches out his hand to touch something, tell him what it is!
ACTIVITY: How about a game of naming everything Baby touches? When Baby reaches for your eye, say “Eye!” and point to it yourself. When he reaches for your mouth, say “Mouth!” and point to it. You can also point to his mouth, eye, ear, face, cheeks, hair, etc., or your own hand, strap, breast, neck, etc. touching them lightly and saying what they are. When he reaches out with his little fingers, he is trying to explore you and connect with you, so be sure to understand his emotional need and meet him with gentle kisses or other soft communications while you’re playing this game. Teaching is fun, but loving is the best!
148. Surrogate Mother Comfort
“I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:5
PRAYER: Dear Father, what an amazing privilege to have the sovereign of the universe as our refuge and strength…our “very present help in trouble!” So many times in the Bible you are praised for being our refuge, and we want to claim some of these wonderful prayers as we praise you: “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” “O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.” Bless Baby, dear Lord, may you be his refuge and defense during every experience in life. May he always feel secure and safe in your loving care.
THOUGHT: Usually the stage of acute separation anxiety doesn’t last too long, but it really helps if Baby can have some special object of comfort from home to keep him company and to help him feel more secure while in a strange place…even if the “strange place” is to visit relatives or your church nursery where he goes three times a week!
ACTIVITY: If Baby hasn’t clearly latched on to one favorite comfort toy yet, you might considering buying (or making) several identical such comfort items for routine washing and in case of loss. Teething rings, small, washable stuffed animals, or matching receiving blankets (clearly marked with Baby’s name) make good standbys. Make sure Baby has his reminder of home in his hands or wrapped around him when you leave, and make sure it’s back in his arms when you get ready to return home!
148. Correction to Arrive at Balance
“O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” Psalm 6:1
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for correcting us when we go astray. Although it hurts to be chastened, we know that you do it because you love us and for our good. May your Spirit bless Baby with a meek and gentle spirit. Bless us, too, Lord. Help us to be discerning parents, knowing just how and when to respond to each of Baby’s cries. May your spirit of sweet reasonableness direct all the interactions in our home.
THOUGHT: God loves us all the time, but he corrects us and stretches us—at times painfully—to make us more like Christ. I believe one important goal for us as parents is to train our children to desire to please God: “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20). “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).
ACTIVITY: Train Baby to be reasonable! I realize this is a life work and not one day’s activity, but maybe today would be a good day to take stock of how Baby is developing emotionally. If you have an infant who chronically howls for attention, prayerfully try to understand what his true need is. Is his need reassurance of your love, or does he need to learn to occupy himself for a few minutes? Obviously lots of fun and stimulation is largely good for your child. On the other hand, there’s a certain amount of retraining that inevitably has to occur if Baby has gotten used to constant attention, because as a busy mother, you have some work you really need to do every day in order to keep an orderly and peaceable home. Pray for the wisdom you need to balance your responsibilities.