“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8
PRAYER: Dear Father, you are our guide and our great shepherd. You are the one who sets open doors before us and invites us to walk through them. Bless us, dear Lord! Help us to have the courage to push, practice, and learn to walk through all the open doors you set before us! Even though we sometimes seem to have “little strength,” help us to keep your word and proclaim your name. May we cling to you for hope, help, and direction.
THOUGHT: Pushing practice is really good for the development of Baby’s walking skills. Baby will find things to push simply because he will climb to a stand using whatever is handy for support, and if it moves, he’ll walk along with it. At first he may walk along out of sheer terror of losing his support, but before long, he’ll like being able to walk and push. Strollers can go dangerously fast and should not be used unless Mom has a hand on the stroller too. Commercial push toys for babies exist and are well worth the money, but have you thought of this idea yet?
ACTIVITY: A laundry basket full of toys makes a dandy walking aide. You may have to pull Baby a little from the far side to get him moving at first, but if you are careful to have a load that is not too heavy and not too light, a basket does make for a pretty stable baby constitutional. The laundry basket can also double as an easy way to store toys, and you can teach Baby his first lesson on neatness as well as some good athletic skills by training him to play basket ball with you (as in, put the balls and toys in the basket), each day before Dad comes home for supper.
“Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.” Psalm 95:2
PRAYER: Dear Teacher, thank you for instructing us daily. Help us to listen and learn so that we will be happy and come to you with thanksgiving and joyful praises. THOUGHT: Each child needs to learn to be responsible for his or her own behavior, not only for what she’s told to do, but also for what she creatively chooses to do herself. When you see Baby doing something wrong, figure out just what’s wrong about it. For example, I remember catching my son Daniel flushing a rubber duck down the toilet once. Although my first instinct was to spank him for being irresponsible, I realized that I had never given him instructions about not flushing anything but toilet paper down the toilet, nor had I ever discussed what happens when something is flushed down the toilet. In fact, I discovered that Daniel had a tremendous curiosity about everything in the world around him, but that he hardly ever intentionally did something that he knew was wrong. The trick is remembering to teach your baby about all the good “dos” and bad “don’ts” of life!
ACTIVITY: Do you have a large metal bowl, cooking pot, or bucket? Baby can learn a lot by dropping various types of balls into a bucket to see how they clang, bounce, and react with each other. Everything from a plastic wiffle ball to a softball, tennis ball, or beach ball…the more the merrier, and the more different the better. Take turns playing with Baby, dropping all the balls in and then taking them back out. Once Baby can squat, she can reach down and grab the ball back out with little effort, and once she understands the game, she might even enjoy helping you gather up any stray balls that missed the pot.
“Happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.” Psalm 144:15
PRAYER: Father God, truly I am so happy because you—the one and only true God—are my LORD and Savior! You are Yaweh! You have told your people (including me) to believe, bless, exalt, praise, love, honor, and call on your name! You’ve told us to preach and teach in your name and to give thanks for your name. Thank you, Father. May I find my true satisfaction in you, and may Baby be drawn to love you too!
THOUGHT: If you find yourself sleep-deprived, miserable, and cranky, cry out to God for grace to get you through the day and find your joy in the Lord. My father used to encourage me during difficult experiences by saying, “Just remember, ‘This too shall pass.’” Truly, time does pass more quickly than we can imagine. Baby’s infancy is a wonderful, critical, but relatively speaking—very short season of life.
ACTIVITY: Here’s a game that works well with other people, even small children. It’s called “Popcorn.” Place a beach ball (or other light ball) in the middle of a sheet or blanket and let everybody hold on to a side. (Hopefully you’ll have at least one other older person to hold the other end.) Flap the sheet up and down rhythmically, trying to make the ball bounce up and down. As you go, you can chant together:
“Popping corn, popping corn,
Roasting in a pot.
Round and round and up and down,
Never let it stop!
Popping corn, popping corn,
Watch it getting hot,
Round and round and up and down,
Watch the popcorn pop!”
“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;
therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.” Job 5:17 (NJKV)
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for being El-Roi… “the strong one who sees.” Thank you that you are on duty all through the night while I’m asleep! Please keep Baby safe and help him to be able to rest in peace. Thank you for Jesus, who is the “bright and morning star.” All through the lonely nights and all through the busy days, still you are with us, watching over us, leading us, and lighting the way for us. Thank you!
THOUGHT: I always tried to keep some interesting toys at the bottom of my babies’ cribs so that if they woke up they could entertain themselves. Once a baby starts standing, the cradle gym and overhead carousel have to be taken down, but the activity center and music box can always stay. Obviously, you want Baby to sleep in his crib, not just play, but if you have room for some especially interesting toys at the bottom, it doesn’t hurt to give him some activities for times when he should be sleeping but isn’t quite ready to settle down and needs a little time to relax, or some toys to play with when he first wakes up.
ACTIVITY: One especially good toy for such occasions is a pop-up board: a toy with little characters that pop up when a key is turned, a button is pressed, a switch is flipped, etc. At first, Baby may only be able to press the figures back down into their hiding places, and you will have to work the buttons, but before long, he’ll have everything figured out…or close enough. That’s the ideal time to put the pop-up board in a corner of the crib where he can find it if he wakes up and is ranging around looking for something to do.
“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:13
PRAYER: Dear Father, you own the cattle on a thousand hills. You created every living creature and make provision for them all. Thank you for your kindness and concern for even the tiny sparrow that falls! Thank you for the great gift of having food and drink!
THOUGHT: Few outings will ever be more appealing to a small child than a trip to the zoo. Even if your town only has a small zoo or a petting farm, be sure to let Baby have the pleasure of watching the fascinating antics and activities of animals. Petting zoos are good as long as you wash Baby’s hands immediately after touching any animal to protect her from allergic reactions, but watch out for the billy goats, who love to nibble on clothing and cloth strollers. When my son Stephen was a baby he got a nasty cut from a goat that was intent on stealing his sucker. So, make sure you don’t bring children into an area with animals while they’re licking ice cream cones or have any food residue on them!ACTIVITY: “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” is a great song to teach the names of common farm animals and the sounds they make. The song can go on indefinitely with every verse telling about another animal and making another animal sound, such as: pig, cow, horse, rabbit, cat, chicken, sheep, goat, etc! If you’re singing with a group, let each person take a turn declaring what the next animal will be!
“Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o.
And on that farm he had a duck, e-i-e-i-o.
With a ‘quack, quack’ here, and a ‘quack, quack’ there,
Here a ‘quack’ there a ‘quack,’ everywhere a ‘quack, quack.’
Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o.”
“This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you.”
PRAYER: Dear Father, please help me to love Baby like you love me!
THOUGHT: As soon as babies are able, they love to imitate whatever their parents are doing. My theory is to let the kids “help” as soon as they express an interest. Children who are allowed to help learn to become helpful and competent. Of course, their “help” makes the tasks much harder than if you were to do them alone, so it takes a considerable, conscious investment in time, energy, and patience. However, it is well worth it, because in just a few years they will become able helpers, and if you have more than one or two children, you will rapidly need their help! I’ve talked to many women who say it’s easier to cook for their grown children than teach them how. Logically, the parents have lost years of time by rearing overly dependent children, and the children have lost a tremendous amount: expertise from not learning the skills; the deep bond with parents that develops from years of working together; and the sense of confidence that comes from tackling projects and learning how to do them. ACTIVITY: If you’re packing, how about giving Baby an empty box and some toys to pack? Give him some choices, too. Hold up different toy options, and ask him which one he wants; he’ll probably reach for his favorite. While you wash up the dishes, give him a handful of plastic ones and have him wash them in a little (waterless) wash pan on the floor. Sweeping? Give him a whisk broom. Dusting? Give him a cloth. Also, while you work, tell him all about what’s going on, how exciting it’s going to be, and what you’ll be doing next. If you’re cooking, maybe he can watch from a safe perch! Make him just as much a part of your day as he can be, because the more he can enter in, the happier he’ll be. (And, a happy baby makes for a happy mom!)
“For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.” Exodus 32:29
PRAYER: Dear Jehovah Maccaddeshem, “the Lord, our sanctifier,” we dedicate ourselves to you. Please bless us and sanctify us…both today and every day…forever!
THOUGHT: Have you publicly dedicated Baby to the Lord? Aaron was eight months old when we dedicated him, although Michael was only a couple of weeks old and sound asleep, so our aged pastor teased us, “Your son looks like a member already: sound asleep!” Although salvation comes through faith alone, and no public ceremony has any “saving” merit, still, giving Baby to the Lord in a public church ceremony establishes your intention to rear your child in the way of faith and calls on your spiritual community to assist you in the process. What a privilege and blessing it is to have a child and bring him up “in the nurture and admonition” of the Lord!
ACTIVITY: More car rides. But, in this day and age, babies spend more and more time in moving vehicles, so keep working on your repertoire of traveling games! When Baby gets fussy and wants some diversion, try talking to him in strange voices. Try to imitate the voices of your favorite cartoon characters: “What’s up, doc?” “C-c-can I go home without my prizes?” Try sounding like a tough guy from the Bronx or a southern belle…an aristocrat from Boston or an intellect from Great Britain. Speak with a squeaky, high voice like a little child, and then with the deep, throaty sound of a man who can sing bass. Baby will love to hear all the variations in sound and texture, and it will help to keep him entertained and content in the car.