Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Week 31)

Baby eating cake213. Learning to Self-Feed: A Mess Worth Making

“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” 1 Corinthians 3:2

PRAYER: Dear all-wise, all-knowing Father, please teach us about yourself. We know that we are young and in many ways inexperienced, but we long to draw nearer to you and know you better. Help us to grow spiritually until we are able to chew on the difficult mysteries of life and truly enjoy communing with you.

THOUGHT: It is a very messy process for Baby to learn how to feed herself, and I wouldn’t be too fast to try to teach her. Probably the easiest time to start is when Baby starts grabbing the spoon and is self-motivated to learn. Cover her with a good bib and let her go for it, recognizing that independence is a worthy goal and worth the messy effort!

ACTIVITY: A seven-month old can’t spoon feed herself, but you can let her get in a little practice by putting some thick (so thick it won’t all ooze off) rice cereal or oatmeal on her spoon and helping her steer it into her mouth. After you’ve helped her do it a few times, let her have a turn. Just load her spoon and give it to her. If she throws it on the floor or bangs herself in the eye and starts crying, wait a few weeks and then try again. Another game that will be fun for sure is showing her a little finger food (such as a small piece of bread, a piece of a rice cake, or an unsalted cracker), setting it on her tray, and then putting your hand over it. Let her lift your hand off and grab her treasure. If she doesn’t know what to do, lift your hand up and down a couple of times to demonstrate that your hand can come up. You can even lift your hand off with your other hand. It shouldn’t take her too long to catch on and enjoy this new form of “peek-a-boo!”

Mother and Baby213. To Love and Be Loved

“We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

PRAYER: Oh, Father, how thankful I am that you love me. Thank you for loving all of us and reaching out to us before we even knew you existed! Please open our spiritual eyes so that we can see you more clearly. Please bless Baby with a tender heart and spiritual vision. Grant her faith to believe in you and trust in you from her earliest days.

THOUGHT: Giving and receiving love is one of most important aspects of life. Baby is never too young to hear the story of how much God loves her and that He is the source of all true love. Share your faith with your baby even before she can understand the words. And, as much as is possible, make sure that any other caregivers in Baby’s life have also experienced and will share God’s love with Baby too.

ACTIVITY: Do you have a regular babysitter who knows and loves Baby? If you do, you and Baby are very blessed! As you’re working on new abilities week by week, be sure to let your babysitter in on the new tricks and games. Such familiarity will not breed contempt (as the old saying goes) but comfort, and Baby will feel more secure and happy with someone who plays some familiar games. There are several advantages. Not only do the familiar routines provide a secure atmosphere, Baby and sitter can’t talk yet, so playing games is a major way of communicating, sharing, expressing love, and bonding. Finally, the babysitter will doubtless do things in a slightly different way, so Baby will not only learn more about giving and receiving love, she will become more adaptable and flexible in her interactions with other people.

Eighth MonthCrawling214. He Is Able; Are We?

“And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” John 10:4

PRAYER: Dear Adonai, our gentle shepherd, thank you for calling us and going before us to show us the way. Please help us to listen to your voice and follow you, even when the way looks difficult and frightening!

THOUGHT: We need to trust and follow God just like we hope Baby will trust us!

ACTIVITY: Once Baby starts crawling, there are lots of games to challenge him/her into greater speed and coordination. One of our favorites was the Family Parade, with Daddy out front and Mama behind. Once Baby sees Mama follow, even a timid child won’t be able to resist joining in the fun. There are at least three variations. The first is a simple follow-the-leader style parade around the room, in and out of rooms, down the hall, around the table, under the table, or wherever! The second rendition requires setting up a bit of an obstacle course with chairs, baby furniture, couch cushions, toys, etc. The third is the all-terrain version (for advanced crawlers!) where you build a pillow hill out of couch cushions that you all have to climb over. For this one, a hovering hand to keep Baby from too hard a tumble until he’s learned the necessary mountain-climbing techniques is important. If Baby is unsure about the new venture, have Daddy demonstrate and then call or play “peek-a-boo” from the far side of the hill while Mama stands guard to make sure Baby’s trip over the mountain is safe and happy!

Swinging215. Communicating By Word and Example

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Hebrews 13:7

PRAYER: Oh Father, we learn from the book of Exodus that you are “majestic in holiness” and that you clothe yourself with glory! Thank you for being such a magnificent ruler over me and the whole world! Thank you for teaching us your truths. Please bless us, dear Sovereign. Help us to follow you and any faithful leaders you have given us, and may Baby follow me, but only inasmuch as I am leading him into the ways of goodness.

THOUGHT: Researchers say that babies are much more clever than parents normally appreciate because we tend to underestimate how intentional their actions are. By this stage, Baby may be understanding many things even though he can’t express himself.

ACTIVITY: This is a good time to start asking him questions with gestures and see if he can understand and respond to them. When it’s time for Daddy to leave, say, “Time to say ‘Bye, bye’ to Daddy!” and wave. When you smell a dirty diaper, say brightly, “Do you need a fresh diaper?” while patting his bottom and nodding your head. See if you can get him to nod assent. “Are you thirsty?” and pretend like you are drinking from a cup. “Are you tired?” and lay your head on your folded hands and close your eyes. “Hungry?” might be demonstrated by holding your hand up to your mouth and pretending to munch on something. If you use gestures with key words, and then nod or shake your head when you understand Baby’s response, you will begin teaching your baby to understand sign language, which is particularly helpful for tiny tots between 8-18 months before they can speak well enough to be understood clearly.

Cuddle Time!216. Encourage and Commemorate Daily Life and Growth

“Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet.” Hebrews 12:12-13

PRAYER: Father, help me to delight in Baby just like you take pleasure in my successes.

THOUGHT: What a thrilling time of life to watch Baby’s daily masteries! Although there is a fairly typical pattern for babies’ major developmental skills (almost all crawl before they walk), every child has a unique path of “baby steps” they take to arrive at each milestone, and of course every baby travels at his on pace. The important thing is that Baby is learning and growing, so be sure to notice and encourage him. Remember how special each feat is, and celebrate with him. Being there for your child’s milestones is one of the uniquely precious privileges of parenting, so savor every moment you can!

ACTIVITY: How about taking pictures of Baby at different times of the day and making a memory album you can also use to teach him some early vocabulary? It could be titled “I am…” and each page could have a different action verb: I am sitting, sleeping, laughing, playing, bathing, eating, standing, happy, sad, tired, dirty, getting dressed, drinking, going for a ride, etc. Another variation, but one which requires more sophistication in Baby’s understanding, would be to put the pictures in pairs: I am hungry. Now I’m eating. I am thirsty. Now I’m drinking. I am tired. Now I’m sleeping. I am sad. Now I’m happy. I am wearing a blue suit. Now I am wearing a green suit. Remember to keep the range for flash photos at three feet or more away from Baby to protect his eyes. This album, especially if it’s made of a soft, washable material and the pictures sealed in to keep moisture out, will be sure to become a great favorite with Baby!

Baby hands217. Busy Hands are Happy Hands

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

PRAYER: Dear God our Creator and Sustainer, thank you for giving us life and the measure of health we enjoy. Help us learn how to do everything good that we can! May we become creative sustainers of the world around us, helping those in need whenever we see them.

THOUGHT: Keeping Baby busy and occupied with learning is so good for him! Giving your child opportunities and freedom to explore is like giving him wings, so be as intentional about it as you can be! In a few years, he’ll actually be helping you, too. Basket of ToysACTIVITY: By this age (if not before), Baby is definitely ready for a busy box toy with lots of gadgets that require turning, twisting, pulling, lifting, squeezing, pushing, pulling, and pressing. Anything that requires Baby to perform a specific skill to bring about a positive result will be a hit! A busy box can be strapped to the side of the crib and will often keep Baby content when he first wakes up. You might first know he’s awake by hearing the ding of a bell he’s learned to ring! If there’s the threat of a boredom emergency, Baby’s busy box can be transported to his crib at church or to Grandma’s house. (Just don’t forget to bring it back home with you.) This is the stage where a Jack-in-the-box or a pull string toy is also a major fascination. Do you have a few dollars a week in your budget for educational toys? If you can afford it, it’s a very worthwhile investment! I believe that children who play well as infants learn well as students and perform well as adults.

Rubber ducky bath in style!218. Enlarging the Bathtub Flotilla

“Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for being the God of all comfort, by day and by night!

THOUGHT: Find new ways of enjoying that empty plastic milk jug, yogurt container, or cottage cheese carton that you were going to recycle. Variety is often free for the thoughtful mind. Do you have a recycling container? Before you throw anything out, think about whether or not it might make a good one-time bath toy before it’s recycled.

ACTIVITY: How about some more favorite bath toys out of the cupboard? Plastic food storage containers with the tops on make for a great fleet of ships. An empty plastic dish soap container (completely washed) and filled with bath water makes a great squirter to send streams of water past Baby’s hands for him to try to catch. Plastic measuring cups are good for pouring, stacking, and nesting, and they’ll often float if empty. Washcloths and sponges are always versatile and fun. A washcloth over your hand becomes a puppet. A washcloth dipped in warm water over Baby’s shoulders is a good warming blanket. A wet washcloth filled with a bubble of air underneath makes for a very interesting target to pat. (Actually, tea towels can be used the same way and are also really fun.) Sponges can be islands for depositing large plastic jar caps, or the caps can float by themselves if turned upside down. Ping pong balls (many have a hole; just seal it with a micro drop of glue) and balls for playing raquetball are also good, challenging floaters. Be creative and make bath time fascinating and fun!

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