- Balls, Chimes, and Other Joyful Sounds“You who dwell in the gardens, the companions listen for you voice—let me hear it.” Song of Solomon 8:13 (NKJV)
PRAYER: Father, thank you that you are not only a father to us, but that you have given us the Lord Jesus Christ as the great lover of our souls. Jesus is the greater than Solomon who came “to seek and to save that which was lost”…and that is us! Thank you that our lives can become your garden, where your Holy Spirit gently plants seeds from your word, waters and washes our souls, weeds out sins, and prunes us into your image. Thank you for calling to us like Solomon did so long ago: “You who dwell in the gardens, the companions listen for you voice—let me hear it.” Father, may our voices be heard blessing you and sharing kind thoughts with others. Bless Baby with a voice that someday not only declares love and wisdom here in our home, but also around the world.
THOUGHT: In this day of Internet, each of us can share our thoughts with people everywhere. As we are going into “all the world,” may we also share the wonderful news of peace and goodwill that can come to all through faith in Christ.
ACTIVITY: How about a time of play with baby at a swimming pool, enjoying the joyful sounds of splashing and kicking a ball? If you don’t have access to a pool, do you have a toy that is weighted on the bottom so that Baby can knock it over as she reaches for it, but the toy will always return to an upright position? We have a very colorful chime ball that can roll around but always returns to the upright position. There are a variety of these interesting toys available, and such a toy is well worth the investment. Once Baby starts reaching out and can locomote a little, a toy that begs to be touched but is so big it’s hard to grasp…yet continues to lure—particularly with a cheerful sound—is the perfect “playmate” to entice Baby into trying to learn how to crawl.
“Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.”
2 Corinthians 3:12
PRAYER: Dear Lord, even though you are “the Majesty on high,” thank you for speaking clearly to us! May we use great plainness of speech to convey hope and blessing to Baby, speaking with love and grace in our hearts. May we be imitators of you, and inasmuch as we imitate you, may Baby imitate us.
THOUGHT: It is very common for toddlers to imitate sounds for many months and then go through a stage where they stop imitating and just listen for some period of weeks. I believe it is a transitional time when they begin to recognize that certain sounds have a particular meaning, and they are trying to understand those meanings. I’ll never forget one of my sons as a toddler asking, “Wha dat?” and then whispering quietly to himself, “Orange, orange,” (or whatever). He wouldn’t say anything aloud until he was sure he had it right!
ACTIVITY: Keep those imitation games going, and if Baby becomes less verbal for a while…don’t stop talking! In fact, he’s probably listening with more intention than ever before, but he’s ready to understand real words, so go slowly! This is the stage where you’ll want to start speaking very clearly and simply when you’re actually trying to teach him to connect a certain word with a certain item or action. Hi! Bye, bye! Daddy, Mama, sleep, eat, bed, chair, food, drink, bath, and names of favored friends, items of clothing, toys, and body parts are all good beginning words to teach. However, don’t stop your friendly flow of chatter, because he also needs to continue hearing the rhythmic patterns of speech and to understand that you are interested in sharing and imitating sounds with him.
“The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” 2 Timothy 4:13
PRAYER: Dear Father, what a treasure you have given us in books! Thank you for written language and the world of knowledge we can absorb because we can read and write. Bless Baby with a keen interest in language: in reading, writing, and learning. Lord, we know that “of making many books there is no end,” and that there can be evil books as well as good books, so above all, may we honor your Word, which is will point us to truth, and teach Baby to cherish it. Thank you that although the world could not contain all the books that could be written about Jesus, you have given us one book that tells us all we need to know in order to live a life of godliness and contentment. Thank you also for the book of life, from which all men will be judged some day, both the small and the great. Lord, we pray that Baby’s name as well as our names will be written down in the Lamb’s book of life, and may we live with you forever. THOUGHT: As Baby grows, one of the very best gifts you can give him is to provide reading materials appropriate for his age that will edify and delight him with all that is bright and beautiful and will fit him for understanding and interacting with the world.
ACTIVITY: Let Baby feel books and paper of various textures, such as an old greeting card, an envelope, magazine page, wrapping paper. You can also make many different balls for Baby to feel and test while sitting in his high chair facing you. Possibilities? Crumple up into a ball: a paper sack, typing paper, waxed paper, aluminum foil, a plastic shopping bag, sticky tape, paper towel, and a paper cup. Give him one ball at a time and let him play with it until he either drops it, loses interest, or tries to eat it.
“O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.” Daniel 10:19
PRAYER: Dear Father, how we long for you to bless Baby and make her strong like Daniel…greatly beloved of God, unafraid, and full of peace. We want to claim your promise to the house of Judah also: “I will save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.” Please save us, make us a blessing, help us to “fear not,” and have hands that are always strong to do that which is right and noble. Thank you for being our rock, our fortress, our strong habitation, and our continual “resort”… because we continually resort to you! We love you, Lord! Thank you for being our God and oasis.
THOUGHT: Do you have any bells? We have a cowbell from Great-Grandma Alma’s farm, and an old school bell from Great Aunt Annie’s schoolroom. We also have bells from different places we’ve visited. If you don’t own a bell now, it might make an interesting double-purpose souvenir from your next trip!
ACTIVITY: How about a day of bells? Look for all the things around your house that make tinkling sounds, and let Baby hear and play with them. If you have a bell, put Baby on the floor and start by ringing the bell from different parts of the room. See if he can visually locate you and the bell. Set Baby somewhere and attach a rope to the bell in such a way that if he pulls on the rope, he rings the bell. See if you can teach him how to pull the rope and ring the bell. A string of jingle bells tied on a sturdy circular cord is another great idea. Candy Williams used to take a single jingle bell and secure it tightly to my daughter-in-law, Carleen’s, shoes when she was at the wandering stage to help Mrs. Williams keep track of her! Sounds like a great idea (but make sure it doesn’t come loose and choke Baby)! 🙂
“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6
PRAYER: Abba, Father, how we miss you when we can’t see your face! I feel like an infant…totally calmed and secure in your presence, and totally lost and confused when you hide your face because I have sinned. Help us to be pure in heart, so that we see can you clearly and walk in the light of your presence. Father, we pray this blessing upon our dear child, and may you extend your favor to our entire family: “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee; The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
THOUGHT: Stephanie Johnson started using a version of the following song with her children, and her little two-and-a-half year-old daughter picked it up, suggesting various members of the family that she would like to have catch her when she sings!
ACTIVITY: Do you know the old nursery song “Rock-a-bye Baby?” I never liked the lyrics, so I changed them at the end like this:
“Rock-a-bye Baby in a tree top.” (Rock baby gently in arms.)
“When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.” (Rock Baby with a wider, still gentle swinging motion.)
“When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.” (Lift Baby up to about your eye level.)
“But Daddy (Mama, Sister…whoever) will catch you, cradle and all!” (Let Baby drop gently from your eye level to your waist level, always held securely in your arms.)
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
1 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV)
PRAYER: Dear Father, do I want to stand up when I should be sitting down? Or, am I sometimes guilty of “sitting on the outside but standing on the inside”? Do I want to play with “forbidden toys?” Please bless us with hearts that long to please you. Help us to know when to sit or stand, stop or start, come or go. Help us to be patient in waiting for your timing to explore the world around us. You know just when and how it’s best to proceed in life. Help us to be wise parents for Baby, and help her to trust us, even as we desire to trust you.
THOUGHT: Nowadays they make rubber ducks that have a heat sensor on the bottom so you can tell if the bath water is too hot, which I think is great! Also, when you choose tub toys, make sure they can take a little bleach. That way, if Baby accidentally ends up pooping in the tub, you can take the toys out and clean them by soaking them for five minutes in a plastic basket filled with hot water and a tablespoon of bleach. Avoid toys that trap water though, or make sure to carefully drain out all the water after each use. (PS—Carleen points out that many tub toys are now dishwasher safe for easy disinfecting. Just read the labels.)
ACTIVITY: It may be time for a plastic basket full of toys to keep Baby occupied while sitting in the tub. Among Aaron’s favorite toys were a family of yellow rubber ducks, and I’d often propel the mother duck by him, bobbing her up and down while singing that cheerful song from Sesame Street: “Rubber ducky, you’re the one; you make bath time so much fun! Rubber ducky, I’m awfully fond of you!” He couldn’t resist and would always want to grab the ducks and suck on them or splash them up and down too!
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
PRAYER: Dear Lord, how big is your big toe? Can you still stick it in your mouth? Sometimes it’s hard to imagine you, and yet we know from Scriptures that you have feet and hands, eyes, and ears, a mouth…arms and legs, and fingers…so you must have toes too. We know that Jesus had toes and was once a little baby, just like ours! Surely Jesus must have dug his toes into the sand along the Sea of Galilee when he was little. How we want to know you! Bless Baby, dear Lord, with a great desire to know you and love you too. May we begin by fearing to displease you. We know that this is the beginning of truly knowing you and all true knowledge. Help us never to despise wisdom and instruction, but to be humble, thankful, and eager for training that will make us wise.
THOUGHT: Both knowledge and wisdom begin with the fear of the Lord, although everything we teach our children of goodness and truth will help them learn about God.
ACTIVITY: Here is a little rhyme you can use to increase Baby’s awareness of his toes and begin letting him hear numbers. When he’s sitting on your lap, take off his booties and socks and play this game, touching each of his toes one at a time as you go, starting with his left little toe and ending with his right little toe:
“One, two, where is Baby’s shoe? Three, four, I can see two more! (toes) Five, six, now we have a mix (combining the big toes from both feet). Seven, eight, I hope I’m not too late…nine, ten, to play the game again!” Then run with your fingers up over Baby’s head and back to the first toe for another round.