Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Month Nine, Week 36)

Baby grabbing for toy246. Using Your Hands for Good

“Thy right hand is full of righteousness.” Psalm 48:10

PRAYER: Dear Father, please bless Baby and me. May we become like the personification of wisdom from Proverbs 3:16, “Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor.” May we be like the proverbial woman who worked willingly with her hands and reached out to the poor and needy. Most of all, help us to be like you: May our hands be filled with righteousness and busy with kindness.

THOUGHT: Hand preference often begins very early, but not always. Our only left-hander was our seventh, and try as I might, he was not interested in being right-handed or ambidextrous. It’s good to have some toys that encourage the use of both hands.

ACTIVITY: Matching maracas are great for giving Baby practice in using both her hands at once. Give Baby two maracas and let her go to town shaking them. If you’re into music, play some lively music for her and demonstrate. After you hand her the maracas again, keep time yourself by swaying your head back and forth or lifting your arms up and down as if you were still shaking the maracas. If you don’t have any maracas available, but you have two plastic baby bottles to spare, fill them each with several spoons (or a quarter of a cup of uncooked rice) so they make a clanging noise when they shake. Such bottles also make interesting toys to chase across the floor if Baby is more interested in rolling than rocking. Or, if Baby is at the head of her class in the Honors Program for budding geniuses, you can try to teach her how to unscrew the top, empty out the spoons, and then put them back inside and screw on the top again. However, if she’s not ready for bottle rocket science, try that game again in a few months.

Puzzle Play247. Secrets and Puzzles

“The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” Psalm 25:14

PRAYER: Oh Father, I long for my family to dwell in the “secret place of the most high” and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” I can’t begin to understand all the mysteries of life, but I can trust you to lead me through them. You know that I can’t even understand myself sometimes. Please increase my understanding of life, cleanse me from secret sins, and help me to know and keep your covenant. Please bless my family with the wisdom to obey you and rest in the secret shelter of your wings.

THOUGHT: Puzzles are awesome educational toys for learning to understand spatial relationships and developing problem-solving skills. Babies who are clever at discrimination tasks are probably also ready to tackle a simple wooden puzzle with ideally no more than one to three pieces. Don’t try a puzzle with three to five pieces that fit together to make a shape. Try the wooden-board type with one or two pieces with little handles attached that come out of their spots and fit right back into them.

ACTIVITY: If you can’t afford a puzzle or would like to try something different, cut a piece of cardboard in two via a line with a simple jag in it, and show Baby how to fit the two pieces together. You can color code the sides, or draw straight lines across the entire surface before cutting it to give Baby more clues about how to fit the pieces together. You can also make a puzzle by gluing a picture from a magazine on top of cardboard or felt. If you choose a picture of (for example) a puppy, cut out the dog and leave the rest of the background as one piece, so all you have to do is fit the dog into the background.

Baby in arms248. Lighten Up

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” Galatians 5:22-23

PRAYER: Father, thank you for promising that all those who are willing to abide in Jesus, the Vine, will produce fruit. Please bless us with meek and quiet spirits. Please help me to surrender day by day to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit in my life so that all the wonderful fruits of your spirit will be produced in my life.

THOUGHT: Keep a few games in the back of your brain for times when things are tense and you just need a light-hearted game to make Baby laugh and feel happy.

ACTIVITY: Here are a couple of good, old-fashioned, relaxing baby games! Hold Baby on your lap and chant:

“All around the garden, like a teddy bear” (Walk your fingers up Baby’s arm, across her chest, and down her other arm.)

“One step, two step, tickle me right there!” (Continue walking around tummy and tickle her tummy at the end.)

Also, a song that small children love is: BINGO

“There was a farmer, had a dog, and Bingo was his name, Oh…

B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, and Bingo was his name!”

Sing this verse six times. From the second to the sixth repetition, substitute a successive number of hand claps for each letter in the word “BINGO” as spelled out in the first verse. Usually the first letter is replaced like this: “clap-I-N-G-O”, the second letter: “clap, clap, N-G-O”, etc.

Baby on Grandpa's lap249. Love That’s Deep and Wide

“Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.
Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:14

PRAYER: Dear blessed Father, thank you for accepting my crude attempts to offer you love and affection. It’s such a comfort to know that you love me, limited as I am!

THOUGHT: About this stage, Baby may start giving you some wonderful, open-mouthed, “smuckie” kisses. If an older child or adult ever gave such a sloppy kiss, we’d probably hate it, but when it’s Baby, it somehow just totally melts our hearts!

ACTIVITY: Baby may be able to learn the hand motions to “Deep and Wide” now. Of course the song is declaring God’s loving provision through the fountain of Jesus’ blood shed to save us from our sins, but it will be quite a while before Baby understands such wonderful and profound theological thoughts! In the meantime, Baby can begin to understand a little bit of the depth of your love for her, and this song is a great way to help her get an idea of “how big!” Sing to her and see if you can get her to make her arms show how “deep and wide” she can get!

“Deep” (arms reaching as high and low as they can get) “and wide” (arms reaching as far apart as they can get).

“Deep and wide” (repeat motions).

“There’s a fountain flowing “deep and wide.” (Wave hands back and forth while making fingers go up and down.)

“Deep and wide. Deep and wide. There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.” (Continue the up and down and sideways reaches, and then repeat entire song.)

Stacking rings250. Sharing Responsibility

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and she shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass…Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:4-5,7

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help me to be patient in all the sacrifices I make as a mother. Thank you for the beautiful example Christ gave us in his selfless love.

THOUGHT: This is a thought for dads who work outside the home: Please remember that parenting is a partnership. Playing with your baby is important, but it’s only part of parenting. Accept full responsibility for your child and work together with your wife in every area of upbringing: spiritual nurturing, physical care, and social development. While you’re at work all day, understand that your wife has been working all day too. Don’t expect that you only have to work forty hours a week (or whatever) but your wife has to be totally responsible for Baby 168 hours a week. She needs some time off now and then, just like you do! Take care of her; love her like you love yourself. Work together so that all three of you can get your needs met.

ACTIVITY: Do you have a donut spindle yet? This is a plastic toy with about six rings (shaped like donuts) of various sizes and colors that can be stacked from largest to smallest by placing them on a cone anchored to a block. This is a toy that Baby will definitely need some help understanding, but once she catches on, she will spend quite a bit of time industriously taking the rings off and on. Of course, it will take Baby a long time (many months) to consistently learn how to put the rings on in the proper order, but practicing and experimenting with the on/off and sizing processes is very engaging.

Playing with plush pi. Sucking Fingers251. Being a True Friend

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

PRAYER: Dear Father, you are the Author of Life. Thank you for sending us Jesus Christ—the Son of God and the Son of Man…God in the flesh. Thank you that he was not only your “one and only” uniquely begotten son, but he was also the firstborn among many brothers (and sisters)…of whom I am one! Help me to be a true friend to Baby, just as you are to me. May I reach out in love to her even when I’m tired, even when it’s inconvenient, and even when she’s fussy and unreasonable. Help me to model perseverance, love, and sweet reasonableness even when I’d like to ignore her because she’s been so irritating. Help me to love at all times and “Do right until the stars fall!”

THOUGHT: Has Baby learned to be a friend to you yet? Although she may be starting to be social and affectionate with you, it will take a long time before she’s actually able to play well with other babies. Although babies are curious about each other, at this stage most of their socializing will be “parallel play,” where at best they play next to each other (or crawl over each other) as they explore a mutual set of toys.

ACTIVITY: One game that can work for two moms and two babies at this age is “Super Soccer!” Using a light plastic ball or beach ball, each mom can support her baby by his/her hands a few feet away from the “other team mate” and let her kick the ball back towards her buddy. Baby will love the kicking practice, and if her little partner is shrieking and having fun at the same time, so much the better. (If Baby doesn’t kick yet or understand the game, trying supporting her under her arms and gently swinging her so that her feet hit the ball.)

Baby in Water252. Cooling Down

“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” Proverbs 3:11-13

PRAYER: Dear Lord, you are the “Holy One of Israel.” Help me to understand that when correct me with sorrows and pain in my life, you are doing this out of love in order to straighten me. Help me to respond in faith and learn quickly, and help Baby to grow in wisdom and understanding daily. Please help her to respond well to correction too.

THOUGHT: Hot weather makes everybody grouchy…including Baby! Why not try to cool down bodies and tempers with some water fun? If you have access to clean, warm water, even an eight-month old can begin learning how to tread water (with your support). However, if you’re landlocked, you can bring a little clean, cool water to Baby!

ACTIVITY: While she’s sitting on the grass, how about bringing out a bottle of soap bubbles? Blow some gently by her. If she can’t catch them, bring one to her before it floats off the wire bubbler. Make sure the soap doesn’t pop in her eyes, and make sure to wash her hands so there’s no soap residue left on after she’s done touching a bubble (so she doesn’t accidentally rub it into her eyes). After she’s done with the bubbles, how about ending the party with a bucket of tepid water (which will seem cool on skin) and an empty, well cleaned dish detergent bottle that you can fill and squirt across past Baby so she can play and splash in the water a little. If it’s really hot and Baby is stripped down to just diapers, pour a little cool water over her bare toes and let her splash her hands around in the bucket. Water is such a cool way to cool down!

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