“Strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God…will come and save you.” Isaiah.35:3-4
PRAYER: Dear Father, We read in the Psalms that you dress your priests in righteousness. How I long to be clothed with righteousness, the righteousness of Christ. As I dress Baby every day and freshen him up with new changes when he’s so wet or dirty that he leaks through, or he spits up and gets us both dirty, help me to be thankful that I have clean clothing, and help me to remember how patiently you keep cleaning me up when I get myself all dirty and cry out to you for help. Thanks for being such a great parent! I love you.
THOUGHT: I heard one of those stories lately that can only make you groan or grin weakly in retrospect. My friend’s daughter, Emily, took her baby on a plane to a wedding. On the return trip, the baby had explosive diarrhea. By the time Emily and her baby reached O’Hare, Emily had used everything clean in the diaper bag, and she and the baby were both still streaked and soaked with diarrhea. It was winter and the plane was late, so they missed their connecting flight and had to take a bus home, totally grungy and smelly. She was so embarrassed. So, pack extra and be thankful if you don’t need it!
ACTIVITY: Do you know this little nursery rhyme? It’s a fun one to say (or sing) to Baby when he says “ba-ba-ba!” Say “ba-ba-ba” back to him several times, and see if you can get him to imitate you and carry on a conversation. Then, sing him this little song: “Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool? Yes, sir! Yes, sir, three bags full. One for the master, one for the dame, and one for the little boy (or “girl”) who lives on our lane!”
“Love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statues and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” Deuteronomy 30:16
PRAYER: Oh Lord our God, we do love you! Please bless us today. Help us to walk in your ways and keep your commandments. May we understand your wisdom and judgments so that we make wise choices. Help us to live and grow…to blossom and be fruitful…to bloom where you plant us!
THOUGHT: Some of us just aren’t “shoppers,” but even those who enjoy shopping sometimes find it hard to shop with Baby. If you need just a few items, are in a hurry, and are with your spouse or friend, consider letting someone make the sacrifice of playing with Baby in the car while the partner flies into the store to pick up the needed supplies. Baby will love the opportunity to “inspect” the car’s interior from new angles!
ACTIVITY: There are some pretty fancy “pretend to drive” toys out there, complete with steering wheels and horns that toot. A play station that fits over Baby’s seat is great for busy times when Baby’s awake and bored while you’re in the car. However, a chance at a real steering wheel is also a very fun “toy” for Baby if you’re ever stuck in the car with nothing much to do. Let Baby stand at the wheel or on your lap and balance herself while captaining the steering wheel. Move the wheel gently back and forth, making “vroom, vroom, rum, rum, rum” noises, pretending to jam on the brakes with screeching sounds, honking, beeping, etc. Babies love to make fun sounds and enjoy animated pretending whether or nor they understand what you’re imitating.
“Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son.” Proverbs 28:7 (NKJV)
PRAYER: Oh, dear Father, how we long to be wise and discerning! Help us, please!
THOUGHT: What a blessing it is to have good friends. Of course, it’s a trick for an enthusiastic baby to learn proper etiquette around other babies. Some skills are all in a day’s work, but sensitive interaction with others is all in a life’s work! Make sure Baby always feels validated and loved for loving others, even if he has to be gently trained out of overwhelming his buddies. The first friend Aaron had who was truly a match for him was Jeffry Walter Valk, who didn’t come on the scene for another couple of years. Jeff was so crazy about Aaron that he would “glue” to Aaron when it was time to leave and had to be pried off! Those special “bosom buddies” or “kindred spirits” are rare, though. In the meantime, be sure Baby knows that you are as wildly enthusiastic about him as he is about you! Be his soul mate, bosom buddy, and kindred spirit every day!
ACTIVITY: How about planning a time for exchanging “songs with motions” ideas with a fellow mother? You can also change traditional lyrics a little to make them more meaningful, if you want. For example:
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star” (hold hands up, opening and closing fists like stars) “How I wonder what you are!”
(throw hands outward and shrug as if to say, “I don’t know!)
“Up above the world so high,” (point upward)
“Like a diamond in the sky…”
(make a diamond shape with your thumbs and forefingers)
“Twinkle, twinkle little star”
(hold hands up again, opening and closing fists like stars)
“God has made you all you are!” (raise both hands to heaven in joyful worship).
“In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” Proverbs14:26
PRAYER: Dear Father, I am asking something very special today. I am asking that you will bless Baby with a long and healthy life, and I know that comes at the price of being obedient to you, so help us to love and obey you! I am asking you to watch over Baby constantly. Please help us to fear you so that we will walk in the ways of wisdom and the angel of the LORD will encamp round about us to deliver us from harm and evil. Help me to be a vigilant parent. Give me insight into what might be harmful—spiritually, physically, and emotionally—and may I have the courage and strength to avoid “every appearance of evil.” May everyone in our family be like the proverbial “prudent man” who “foresees the evil and hides himself.”
THOUGHT: Growing independence is a good thing. Make your home a place of refuge where Baby can safely explore and widen her horizons, but understand that she will still need to be under your watchful eye…probably for about twenty more years!
ACTIVITY: Have you baby-proofed your house yet? Study a complete guide from your doctor’s office, but as a separate entry below, I am going to list a few of the most common changes that most couples need to be make in order to “baby proof” their home. Accidents happen in a flash, but they can have lifelong consequences, so go through your house on hands and knees (if Baby’s crawling, you can take her along) thinking of everything a baby might try to do. Ask yourself, “What would happen if…” and make sure the answer is…“nothing too serious.”
A Few Ideas to Start in the Process of Making Your Home Safe:
* no cleaning fluids, poisonous substances (even liquid candles), or breakable glass in low cupboards or tables
* no cords from drapes or blinds that could strangle a baby
* no plastic bags left around that could suffocate or choke Baby (there are cases reported in the newspapers every year)
* There are many “harmless” objects we use every day that could kill a baby if left within her reach, such as pins, objects made from glass, small toys, kitchen magnets, coins, button, candies, etc.
* no open windows or window screens that could pop out easily on upper floors where a toddler could lean out and actually fall out the window
* consider installing baby gates across at the top of all staircases (and across the bottoms too if needed)
* install baby gates and fences to protect children from deep water (my husband works with two different ladies whose toddlers drowned in swimming pools. Drowning can happen so fast! If your toddler is outside, watch her at all times!)
* if possible, install baby-proofing devices to keep cupboards closed (I was babysitting once for just a few minutes while my pastor’s wife friend got ready for church. While I mindlessly washed dishes, the baby crawled over to a cupboard and started pouring Ajax on the floor. She could have been badly hurt or poisoned…all in a couple of minutes.)
* consider securing doors with an extra deadbolt, especially to the outside (We lost our second-born once for two hours in a heavily wooded area along Lake Huron in Canada when my husband and oldest son headed off to the beach. My son Michael was almost two and had never opened an outside door before, but he was determined. That near disaster caused years of night terrors for Michael [and me], and the memory is still painfully fresh each time I recall it.)
* tools, scissors, knives, and all sharp instruments should be stored high and out of sight
* toilet tops always, always left closed
* baby-proof safety caps on electrical outlets
* no plants within arm’s reach (all could choke, and many are poisonous…check them out!)
* no electrical cords dangling in a tempting way down walls or off counters, especially dangerous ones from irons, coffee pots, etc. (I was at a party when a toddler pulled a crock pot full of hot, mulled cider off a counter and was badly burned.)
* no fans or other machinery left where Baby could reach in and have her fingers chopped off or receive an electrical shock
* no electrical equipment with dials that could be turned on (especially for stoves).
* try to turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater so that the hottest temperature is never scalding. We have friends who tragically had their child taken out of their home because of a scalding accident in a bathtub.
Note: This is not a comprehensive guide. Please consult with your doctor’s office and check on line for ideas on how to be aware of dangers and make appropriate changes. Also, remember to pray and commit your child to the Lord. I always feel like it’s a miracle every time a child reaches adulthood still intact!
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25
PRAYER: Oh, Father, you are wise, majestic, glorious, and powerful! Wow! You can keep us from falling and help us to become beautiful for Christ. Please, please do that for each of us in our home!
THOUGHT: Understanding gravity is a real trick. This is the stage where Baby will drop and throw things with a lustiness that will tempt you to throw a tantrum. Resist the urge and remember that Baby’s behavior probably isn’t intended to drive you crazy. He is most likely experimenting to understand gravity.
ACTIVITY: Plan a physics lab with Baby to help him understand what happens when things are dropped. Pick out items with various weights and shapes: a rock, some unbreakable toys, a feather, a leaf, cotton balls, a balloon, several balls, and maybe some dandelion or maple seeds. If you can experiment outdoors, include a water balloon and a lump of dirt or something that will break apart. Let Baby feel each item before you drop it, asking him, “What do you think will happen?” And then, after you drop an item, comment: “Wow! Look at that roll.” “See how that almost floats in the air?” or “That fell fast!” Express disappointment over the clod of dirt that fell apart. “Oh, no! That broke. Too bad.” Don’t give any of the items back, just gather them up and put them in a bag. If you consistently do this with any items or toys that he throws (such as from his high chair or car set), you will train him more quickly to keep himself occupied with what you provide rather than his training you to become his favorite “go fetch” playmate.
“Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him that was falling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees.” Job 4:3-4
PRAYER: Dear, blessed God, thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and guide. Thank you for how he instructs us and teaches us the right way to go, strengthens us and keeps us from falling. May I be a blessing to Baby and those around me, encouraging them through your word. Please keep us all from falling!
THOUGHT: How do you keep Baby from falling? Aaron hated falling. He would climb up my leg and hang on for dear life, refusing to plop down even though his little diapered bottom was only a few inches off the floor! What can you do as a parent to help Baby at this stage? If you can anticipate the possibility of falling, stand guard. Let him try, but try to be there to catch him or break his fall if he isn’t coordinated enough yet to achieve his goal. Remember the adages: “No pain, no gain!” and “Practice makes perfect.”
ACTIVITY: To help Baby learn how much space he takes up and improve his coordination, how about setting up an obstacle course? I’ve already mentioned some courses for crawlers (Day 214), but this game is for toddlers who are trying to walk. Set up a “Mission Possible” obstacle course around and over pillows, through doorways, around chairs and various objects such as a laundry basket, stuffed animal, stroller, etc. However, for this course work, take Baby’s hands in yours and help him walk it. Give him lots of encouragement as you go along, maybe commenting about the obstacles in the path or imagining dangers as you go. Have fun on your “adventure,” and be sure to rejoice with him when you’ve successfully completed your challenging assignment!
“And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armour bearer…” 1 Samuel 14:13
PRAYER: Oh, Father, thank you for making some people so courageous, like Prince Jonathan and his armor bearer! I am also reminded of the inspirational song, “Climb Every Mountain.” Please bless us, dear Lord! Give us courage to climb all the mountains you put in our lives. Make our feet like “hinds’ feet,” set us upon “high places,” and help us to walk there!
THOUGHT: Soon Baby will start to climb, so why not help him learn and in the process also train him to understand what is okay to climb on and what is not. If you don’t want him on top of the piano, shake your head and say, “No!” when he tries to climb up. Pick him up and place him in front of something he can climb on that is not “off limits” and say, “YES!” Baby will learn pretty quickly what is and is not allowed.
ACTIVITY: Cushions are wobbly, but they make soft landing spots. If your sofa cushions come off, they make perfect building blocks for climbing games at this stage. They can be placed on top of each other offset just a little to make a “stairway” up to the couch. If you have three, two can be on the floor with the third on top in the middle so it’s like an up and down staircase. Call to Baby from the far side and see if you can get him to climb over the mountain. Or, set a cushion next to a low chair or table and encourage Baby to clamber up. If it’s summer, consider taking him to a park where there is playground equipment he can climb. The bottom of a slide or merry-go-round works fine as long as no other children are impatiently waiting for a turn. If it’s winter, many malls have a play area for children. Check out your neighborhood and enjoy!