177. Separation Anxiety
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4
PRAYER: Dear God, physical pain can be excruciating. Please protect us as much as possible from death, sorrow, crying and pain. But, truly the greatest pain is being separated from Love. The comfort of love makes the rest of life bearable. Without love, life loses its meaning. Thank you that you are love. May we always know your love, even in the midst of our deepest grief and pain.
THOUGHT: Once he understood separation, Aaron never liked being left…even into his teen years! Separation anxiety makes parting more difficult, but don’t be resentful or critical. Baby loves you fiercely! She would not leave you for a moment given the choice, and she feels rejected because you’re willing to give her up for a while.
ACTIVITY: On the other hand, don’t be discouraged and stop going out, because your husband needs your relaxed, undivided attention even more than your baby does (believe it or not). Although your husband is not as dependent on your care to meet all of his physical needs, he has a great need for your love and fellowship to keep him happy and motivated. Actually, you also need these times apart to be refreshed and refocus, but it is easy for a mother to get so intent on caring for her child that she loses sight of her own needs. So, keep planning outings and make sure your husband always remains your first priority under God. When you return, just give Baby lots of reassurance and cuddling to let her know that you love her deeply and are thrilled to be reunited!
178. Keeping Baby Channeled While You Work
“So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” Psalm 78:72
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I am reminded of the wonderful verse that likens children to being sapphire-polished arrows. Bless Baby, dear Lord! May he grow into a beautiful, straight arrow for you, one that you can fly fast and straight…one who will travel high and far for you and hit the mark of “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” May I feed Baby on what is good so that he will be healthy and have excellent habits (both in eating and in life), a taste for that which is nourishing, and a distaste for that which is bad! Bless me with skillful hands, so that I know how to guide him into integrity and health.
THOUGHT: Keeping Baby occupied during dinner preparation is always a huge challenge, but don’t wait for hubby to bail you out by entertaining Baby if you can help it! Most men come home roaring hungry and in need of a break themselves.
ACTIVITY: Here are a few more ideas for keeping Baby busy in his high chair. You can teach him to fish cheerios out of a shallow plastic container by putting a few in the bottom of one. Or, you can put a few bits of cereal under a clear plastic container that has been turned upside down over the food and see if he can pick up the container to get his tasty prizes out. You can take a set of nesting measuring cups and put a couple of cheerios in the bottom of each one, and then stack them. See if he takes them apart to get at all the cereal. You can set several small opaque containers upside down on the tray, placing a cracker under one but leaving the rest without any food. Keep that kid channeled, and he won’t mind waiting for chow time quite so much.
179. Soothing Influences for Restless Babies
“In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” Psalm 56:11
PRAYER: Dear God, we put our trust in you! We thank you so much for the wonderful reminder that you have not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind, and that a blissful heaven of pain-free fellowship is promised in the future for all who trust in you. Thank you for reassuring us that perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment, and there is no torment in perfect love! How wonderful to trust in you and rest in you. May I model calm assurance, even in the midst of life’s nightmares, being anxious “for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving” letting my requests be made known unto you, and experiencing your peace that passes all understanding to keep my mind and heart. Bless Baby, precious Lord, so that as he grows up, he may also have a deep sense of peace, learning to cast all his cares on you because he knows that you care for him too!
THOUGHT: A small, familiar light that Baby can see if he wakes in the night can be a comfort and help him feel oriented and secure. We went through a series of nightlights over the years, and we also had a wonderful merry-go-round that hung over the crib. When I wound up the music box, the music played while the animals danced. This soothed our infants numberless times when they weren’t quite ready to fall back to sleep.
ACTIVITY: Do you have a nightlight and/or musical mobile in Baby’s room? Sometimes nothing works, but sometimes a little quiet music, soft light, and something to watch (even a ceiling fan with fluttery paper streamers hung from it) can go a long way toward helping a restless infant return to sleep.
180. Hand Coordination and Practice
“Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.” Psalm 119:73
PRAYER: Oh mighty God who holds the seven stars in your right hand, your hands have fashioned each of us! Bless us, Lord, with understanding so that we may learn your commandments. You have told us that if we love you we will keep your commandments. Help us to know your commandments, and give us the grace and strength to keep them.
THOUGHT: Concerning Baby throwing toys down and picking them up again—the place to practice that is on the floor where Baby can be responsible for picking up his own toys. At the kitchen in his high chair, don’t be too quick to retrieve toys that Baby has dropped, or he will think you are his personal valet. I tried to be compassionate whenever I thought the drop was an accident, but during the phase when Baby is practicing intentional dropping and picking up, if he starts throwing toys in an attempt to start a fetch game, keep in mind that you are his mother, not his dog. A merciful mother might supply a different toy if Baby runs completely out, or tie the toys to the highchair with strings so that they’re easy to place back on the tray.
ACTIVITY: If Baby hasn’t figured out how to pass toys from hand to hand, you can help him learn by actually putting a toy in his right hand, and then gently moving his right hand to his left hand with your hands over his, helping him make the transition. I never actually tried that with our kids (although I read about it), because they seemed to pick it up on their own so naturally, but as with all abilities, a sensitive parent can help teach and encourage where needed.
181. Contentment with What We Have
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
PRAYER: For the second half of the year, I thought perhaps you might enjoy writing out your own “Bless my Baby” prayers in a little journal not only to anchor and reflect your own spiritual journey and aspirations but also serve as a great spiritual treasury for Baby in the years to come. God bless you in your efforts! Even if you can only find time to write one prayer a week, or just a handful over the next months or years, it will be an invaluable part of Baby’s spiritual heritage.
THOUGHT: I used to say that until our kids were about three, they preferred their boxes to their gifts. It is amazing what simple items can stimulate a baby. Just remember, everything is new for her, so try to see the things around your home from her eyes.
ACTIVITY: How about letting Baby experiment with some of these items: a pot or pan; a rubber doorstop; a wooden clothespin (not the kind with wire springs that can come apart); coasters, both the kind for setting drinks on and the rubber or wooden ones you put under table legs.
Also, if Baby is just on the verge of creeping but hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it, you can give her a helping hand by putting your hands against the bottoms of her feet while she’s on her tummy trying to move forward. As she inches forward, keep supporting her feet with your hands, not pushing her, but giving her a surface to push against. Just a minute or two now and then can be the boost she needs to help her become a traveling lady!
182. Sharing What We Know and What We Don’t Know
“Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” Job 42:3
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you that in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Help me to understand true wisdom and be able to share my understanding of you with Baby. Counsel us, Lord! May we marvel at the mystery of your wonderfulness!
THOUGHT: Don’t you love all the exuberant sounds an infant can make? When was the last time you screeched and grunted? I mean, that’s not even considered polite in adult society, right?
ACTIVITY: Luckily, you are not in adult society when you and Baby are communicating, so let go and have fun! Screech, jabber, call, hoot, grunt, yowl, and babble. Imitate Baby’s sounds, and then see if you can get him to imitate yours. Sit right in front of him so he can see your face, and slowly make the sound you want him to imitate. Use sounds you know he knows, such as “ba-ba-ba” or “m-m-m.” Make faces! Wrinkle up you nose, puff out your cheeks, blow, whistle, raise your eyebrows, smile, frown, shake your head, nod, look surprised, excited, and sad. See if you can get Baby to respond to your faces or try to imitate them. If he can’t now, he probably will be able to if you try the same tricks in a month or two. Whatever you do, have fun, and always end with a good laugh and some happy affection. Remember, play and fun are actually crucial elements in healthy, happy living! “A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine.” If you don’t feel jolly, ask the Lord to help you figure out what’s wrong and how to correct it so that you can experience having a heart filled with joy.
183. Healthy Food Options
“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.” Proverbs 30:8
PRAYER: Father, teach me to be grateful for every day that my family is blessed with good food, clothing, and a secure home. Help me to appreciate wholesome food and to be faithful in providing the healthiest options I can for meals.
THOUGHT: As a pretty hardcore naturalist, I never allowed myself to buy prepared baby food. After the rice cereal phase I went straight to grinding up “the real thing” from the dinner table on the theory that freshest was best and regular food contained no fillers or unnecessary additives. Most of my friends thought that was unnecessarily time-consuming and inconvenient. Perhaps my zealous commitment to purity in food practice was a bit more stringent than absolutely necessary, but I would still do it again for the health benefits. Also, today, organic foods are available and worth buying if you can. (Just as an aside, another benefit of avoiding processed foods is that it saved hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars over the course of seven infancies.) Processed foods are not only less healthy, they are more costly.
ACTIVITY: However you choose to select and prepare Baby’s food, make healthy choices while it’s your responsibility to choose for him. Consider getting a small baby food grinder so you can make your own purees from fresh foods you’re preparing for the rest of your family. Consider avoiding refined flour and sugar as much as you can. The first dessert Aaron ever tasted was his first birthday cake. Did it keep him from liking desserts as an adult? No. Is he health-conscious today? Yes.