“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.” Psalm 100:1
PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for being the master of creativity and ingenuity! Thank you for making vocal chords and eardrums…for the world of sound and language, music and musical instruments! Please bless us, dear Lord, so that our hearts are tuned to you and we are constantly making melody in our hearts to the Lord.
THOUGHT: I always thought my second-born, Michael, was quiet until my firstborn started school…and then I sometimes wondered if Michael would ever quit talking! Rejoice when Baby babbles at you, and be sure to respond with happy babbles back!
ACTIVITY: When Baby starts developing a vocabulary, you can have many happy “conversations” by imitating sounds together. When he says, “Ba-ba-ba,” say “Ba-ba-ba” back to him and see if you can get him to respond to you by smiling or repeating the sound. Once he has the idea of imitating, try another sound, such as “ma-ma-ma” or “da-da-da.” “La, ha, ga, va, pa…etc.” When you hear Baby making other vowel sounds, such as “oo,” add that to your repetoire: “ma-ma-ma” then “moo-moo-moo,” “ba-ba-ba” and then “boo-boo-boo.” “Boo, Soo, doo,” etc. or if you catch her saying “ooh!” you can see if you can get her to say “low, bow, so, mow, or go-go-go!” Try to listen and record all the sounds you hear. If you’re inclined, make a poster to put next to the changing table where you keep a record of sounds you know he can make, and practice “talking” with him while you change his diapers. Remember, every positive experience is a way of bonding and expressing love if it’s done in the spirit of love and joy. Make your times together always bright and warm and full of cheerful communication!
“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help me to protect Baby and cherish him, even as you do us!
THOUGHT: When Baby gets whiny and clingy for no apparent reason, your gut reaction may be to feel overwhelmed, and a red light may start flashing in your brain: “I need space; I need space.” Commit your frustrations to the Lord and pray for grace. If Baby needs your attention because he’s insecure, unhappy, sick, or tired, it’s always good to give him reassurance. On the other hand, some children are very dependent and need some gentle encouragement to play alone. At this stage, if you can give a child a toy that requires quite a bit of cognitive reasoning to master, you might be able to sidetrack him with something other than his obsession to get straight to Mama!
ACTIVITY: Blocks and nesting cups are great for this type of project. Start with two blocks. Stack them and see if Baby can take (knock) off the top block. Put the block back on and see if Baby will take it off again. Then, take the second block and set it on top of the first. Take it off and give it to Baby. See if Baby can set the second block on top of the first. Then, put a block inside a nesting cup and take it back out. Give the block to Baby and see if he can put the block inside the nesting cup. Nesting cups usually come in sets of three to five, each a different color and size, and they are made to be placed one inside the other. Few babies understand what the cups are all about to begin with, but if you demonstrate how one cup can be put inside the other (or turned over and placed on top), before too long, Baby will get the idea and start working on various combinations.
“Your words have upheld him that was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees.” Job 4:4 (NKJV)
PRAYER: Dear Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls, thank you all the times you’ve upheld me with the wisdom of your Word. Thank you for restoring me when I fall. How good forgiveness and restoration feel! Thank you for your encouragement in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Just as I learn from your wonderful care of me, please help me to know how to give Baby both protection and enough freedom to practice. Please give me great wisdom to know how to help Baby when he’s stumbling and restore him when he falls!
THOUGHT: Before crawling becomes passé for Baby, be sure he has some opportunities to experience negotiating various surfaces on all fours as well as by walking them while securely holding your hand.
ACTIVITY: Of course the cushiest surface is a well-padded carpet, but Baby needs to be able to negotiate all types of surfaces. How about going afield into the highways and byways of your world to find some relatively clean, safe crawl-ways? Make sure he’s wearing a pair of sturdy overalls (and wash his hands between experiences), and then let his try his hands (and knees) at slick linoleum, braided rugs, shiny polished wood, concrete sidewalk, an asphalt walkway, grass, sand, and if you can find some—astro-turf or polished marble. Let him get some practice at negotiating new turf!
“Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
PRAYER: Bless us, dear Lord! Please lead us, protect us, and keep us safe every day!
THOUGHT: When Baby starts barging through doors, it’s time to teach him some lessons about how doors work so he doesn’t get hurt. (Of course, sooner or later he will get hurt, but the later and lesser the better.) Notify your husband to always watch for Baby over the next few months, since Baby could be coming in behind him or behind a door where your husband is heading. Train yourself and your hubby to open and close doors slowly and gently to make sure Baby is not on the other side just wishing to come through. If you are trusting a door to keep a stairway safe, make sure the door is not only closed but also has its metal latch firmly engaged.
ACTIVITY: Disappear behind a door and let him find you. Crawl with him in and out of doors, showing him how to push them with your hands or head, or pull them open with your fingers. If you have wooden closet doors that fold in the middle, show him very, very gently how they come together and pinch in the middle. Demonstrate on your own finger and say, “Ouch!” Pull your finger out fast and pucker up like you’re going to cry. Put his finger in the door frame by yours and gently close the door until you feel a little pinch (which shouldn’t pinch Baby’s finger enough to really hurt, since his is smaller than yours) and say, “Ouch!” pulling out your finger and his hand very fast. Baby probably doesn’t yet have the power to hurt himself badly (except by accident), and if he experiments on his own, he won’t pinch his finger too severely. But, if he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, his finger could be taken off by a slamming door.
“You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off.” Psalm 139:2 (NKJV)
PRAYER: Oh Father, help me long to be with you as much as Baby longs to be with me!
THOUGHT: If Baby spends most of his waking hours trying to track you down and climb up into your arms, remember to be thankful that he’s healthy, social, and likes being with you! Aaron used to crawl to my leg, stand up, and put his hands up with an “Uh! Uh!” gesture that meant, “Pick me up!” When he got big enough to talk, he’d say, “Be held! Be held!” So, I called him my “Be held Bunny.” Enjoy being so valued!
ACTIVITY: Here’s a game that’s good for Baby when he loves to stand. When Baby wants up, say, “Elevator Up!” and pick him up (under his arms, never by his arms lest you pull his elbow or wrist out of joint), lifting him as high as your face and greeting him with a kiss and a hug. Then say, “Elevator Down!” and put him back down on the floor. This teaches him both the meaning and sensation of the words “up” and “down.” Sometimes Baby will love the game and want to play several rounds (or until you’re tired), but other times he will just want to be held. If that’s the case, hold him for a few minutes or sit (or lie) down with him on your lap. After you’ve had a little “snuggy mom (or dad) time” stop, say, “Elevator Up!” and pick him up again. Take him over to a toy or play area, and then say, “Elevator Down!” and put him down by some toys. Sometimes you can get him interested in playing for a while, and sometimes he’ll crawl right back over to you. When you feel like pulling your hair out because you can’t get any work done, just remember that loving and caring for your family is the most important work you do!
“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” Proverbs 29:17
PRAYER: Dear Father, Please help me to be consistent and kind at all times with Baby.
THOUGHT: “Scripts” are predictable patterns of activity that help children develop memory patterns. That’s one reason why bedtime, bath time, and eating routines are so important to babies. If you follow a predictable pattern, Baby will learn to anticipate what is coming. This is called “memorizing a script.” If you explain what you’re doing as you go, so much the better! Baby won’t understand all the words, but he will be picking up some word cues. When the script is pleasant and the pattern consistent, Baby will feel secure and able to prepare emotionally for the event. Research indicates that the best way to get people to sleep easily is to get them up at the same time every morning. For this reason, try to pick a wake-up time that works well for you and your husband (every day if possible), and then put Baby to sleep as close to the same time as possible every night in order for him (and you all!) to get a good night’s sleep.
ACTIVITY: For everybody’s peace of mind, develop a pleasant bedtime routine. We used to bathe our babies in the evening to get them relaxed and happy, and then I’d nurse Baby while rocking and singing lullabies before tucking him/her in. We even started reading Aaron a bedtime story out of The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes long before he understood the words, and I’d use a little song as a cue that it was bedtime:
“Wee Willie Winky, runs through the town”
(run with your fingers up Baby’s leg),
“Upstairs and downstairs in his night gown”
(run up one arm, over head, and down the other arm).
“Rapping at the windows”
(knock on arm of chair),
“Calling through the locks”
(cup hand to mouth and look like you’re looking for someone),
“Are your children all in bed? For it’s eight o’clock!”
(Or, nine o’clock, or whatever is Baby’s bedtime!)
“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.” Ecclesiastes 11:7
PRAYER: Dear Father of Lights, thank you for creating a world warmed by the sun and filled with an ocean of air for us to breathe. We take joy in the miracle of life! Thank you for blessing us with our amazing bodies and your amazing world! May we delight in your creation and care for it, as you have ordained for us to do.
THOUGHT: An evening constitutional with Mama and Daddy is another extraordinarily good habit for your whole family. Baby can watch the world go by from his safe perch in the stroller and listen to the lilting tones of Mama and Daddy as they discuss amazing mysteries. Baby will work hard at learning to decipher their exciting code. This wouldn’t be the best time to begin a hot argument, but it would a great time for sharing all about your day and emotionally unwinding together. Remember to always speak well of Baby in his presence and tell of his latest progress and exploits. He’s gathering more information about himself than you think, and your positive regard for Baby will help heighten your husband’s appreciation for what a precious privilege it is to be his parents. (Obviously if you have concerns, these need to be addressed also, but try to discuss problem areas alone after Baby is soundly sleeping and won’t become distressed.)
ACTIVITY: Could you take 20-30 minutes each evening for a family stroll? If there’s a park nearby where you can stop for even five minutes and let Baby go on some rides while held in your arms, so much the better! Sunshine and fresh air on pleasant evenings are good for both parents and children. The experience will increase your metabolism, relax your body, and help quiet your mind.