Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for the Tenth Month, Week 41)

Giles on Telephone281. Learning Just What to Say

“Teach us what we shall say…for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness.” Job 37:19

PRAYER: Oh dear Father God, you have given us the Lord Jesus as our perfect teacher, model, and example! May we always desire to be his disciples and learn from him. Often we don’t know exactly what to say, but you can teach us, so please do!

THOUGHT: As a tyke, Aaron sometimes spontaneously sang “Jesus Loves Me” or other children’s choruses while sitting in the shopping cart, which always brought smiles from the other shoppers (thankfully). However, once on a bus he saw a man smoking and declared very loudly, “That man should stop smoking. Doesn’t he know it might cause cancer?” Learning to “speak the truth in love” with graciousness is a real trick—for all of us!

ACTIVITY: Consider buying a toy telephone to invite Grandma over for tea. Of course, phones really come into their own when Baby can actually talk, but now might be a good time to introduce Baby to the idea of jabbering on the telephone. When Aaron was a baby, he could be playing very happily, but as soon as the phone rang, he would make a Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde flip flop and start crying for attention. If Baby has his own phone, when the phone rings, hand him the toy phone and let him jabber while you talk to your friend. Of course, the jig’s up when he figures out that you are talking to somebody besides him, and that there’s no one on the other end of his line, but unless Baby’s really sophisticated with phones, at this stage he may be pretty willing to imitate while you “model” talk. Also, it’s the perfect opportunity to practice pretending with Baby. “Hi” is often one of the first words a baby learns, so you can help him practice by picking up your phone and saying, “Hi!” See if you can get Baby to pick up his phone and say, “Hi!” too.

Little Bandit!282. The Door

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

PRAYER: Abba, Father, thank you for giving us Jesus, who is a door of hope for us and the door that we must enter to be saved. Please bless Baby. May he believe, be saved, and go in and out, finding green pastures and quiet waters for his soul.

THOUGHT: Despite my best efforts to provide “green pastures” for resting, one time Aaron just howled after I’d put him down for a nap. I thought that I’d let him cry it out because I “knew” he was fine. In fact, he’d caught the buckle on his pants in the webbing of the playpen and couldn’t lie down. After that, I always learned to check, if only long enough to make sure he didn’t have a dirty diaper or some other unexpected change of status (which will happen on a rare occasion). It’s frustrating, because some babies will cry, “Wolf!” ninety-nine times before they need to, but part of parenthood is being a truly watchful shepherd…all the time. If you’re totally exhausted, try sending your husband to the door of Baby’s room to remind him of the Golden Bedtime Rule: “Go to sleep!”

ACTIVITY: Here’s a grand old spiritual about the love of God and our need for his salvation. It’s a good one for keeping Baby occupied while the rest of your family is trying to finish eating or before bed. Set Baby on your lap facing out and sing softly:

“Rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham; Rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham; Rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham; oh, Rocka my soul.”
(Hold her hands in yours, cross both sets of arms across her chest, and rock Baby side to side while you hug her.)

“So high, we can’t get over it,” (lift hands high into air)
“So low, we can’t get under it,” (lift hands way down low)
“So wide, we can’t get around it, (gently stretch arms wide apart)
“Got to go in through the door!” (Put arms straight ahead and bend forward.

Drip Castles283. Sand and Water Play

“They shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and the treasures hid in the sand.”
Deuteronomy 33:19

PRAYER: Dear God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, thank you for sky and land, water and sand! Thank you for Jesus, who is the water of life and the bread of life. Thank you for your abundant provisions for us both physically and spiritually!

THOUGHT: Grandpa always says he spent the first fifteen years of his life playing in the sandbox out behind his house, and by the time the Aaron was four, he had his own sand box in our basement where he and Michael spent many hours in contented play. (I’ve since learned that proper ventilation is important if you’re going to undertake such a grand investment for your kids’ winter entertainment.)

ACTIVITY: If you have access to a public beach, give Baby many opportunities to enjoy creative sand play! Where the water is really warm and reasonably clean, dig out a super shallow pool with a channel to the lake and let Baby sit in the middle and pat at the water around her. You can try to teach Baby how to make a drip castle by digging up a watery handful of sand and letting it drip into a mound. After repeated efforts, a small “castle” of drips will appear. A pail of wet sand, carefully overturned on the beach, can make another “something” for her to play with (and knock over), or it could be the first building block in a larger structure. Just remember that Baby isn’t very coordinated, so despite her fondest hopes of becoming a civil engineer like her parents, she can really only express her enthusiasm by trying…and failing! Enjoy the process, and if you really have a bee in your bonnet to build, have one parent play a few feet away while the other prepares a glorious monument for all to admire…later…from a respectable distance.

Hammock. Baby and Father swinging 284. Gathering Fruit

“I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” Song of Solomon 2:3

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for being our heavenly husbandman! Thank you for your great patience in waiting for good fruit to be produced in our lives. I know that “the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9) and that it only comes from abiding in the Vine, our Lord Jesus. Please help me to be patient with Baby…and myself! May I sow in peace and delight in the fruits of righteousness.

THOUGHT: God calls us to take joy in resting in him and enjoying his fruit. Are we?

ACTIVITY: Here is a little game that you can start playing with Baby on your lap, but eventually you can play with Baby standing on his own two feet! You can hold him standing on your lap and plop him down at the end on your lap, or if he can stand already, then let Baby stand between your legs while you are sitting facing him. Your knees can be slightly pressed together to support under his armpits. Take his hands in your hands and recite to him:

“Pick an apple”
(Lift up his left arm as if he’s reaching up to pick an apple off a tree above him.)
“Pick a pear”
(Lift up his right arm in a similar way)
“Pick some cheeries wa-a-y up there!”
(Both arms up high)
“Pick an apple”
(Repeat with left arm)
“Pick a peach,”
(Repeat right arm)
“Pick some oranges out of reach!”
(Both arms up high again)
“Pick and apple”
(Left arm up)
“Pick a pear”
(Right arm)
“Pick some plums”
(Both arms up)
“And sit right there!”
(Pull him up by supporting him under his arms and setting him on your lap.)

Standing Together!285. Praise Ye the Lord

“Stand up and bless the Lord.” Nehemiah 9:5

PRAYER: Oh, LORD God, you are our eternal, everlasting God…the desire of all nations…the only true God, who is “gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy” (Psalm 145:8). How we praise you! Truly, you are an awesome God.

THOUGHT: Whether you’re feeling discouraged or happy, one good habit to acquire is meditating on the goodness and attributes of God every time you sit down to nurse Baby. If you stop for even a few minutes to center yourself on God before taking up other mental tasks, it will clear your mind and help you enter into the “rest” of God.

ACTIVITY: Here is a song you may have enjoyed as a youngster. It’s a favorite with small children in all Sunday school classes and is the perfect way to encourage toddlers who are learning how to squat and stand! Baby may need you to start by holding both his hands in yours to steady him, but by the time he’s walking, he’ll be able to do it all alone just imitating you.

“Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah!”
(Stand still facing each other and hold hands.)
“Praise ye the Lord!”
(Squat down or sit down on chairs.)
“Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah!”
(Stand up again. In fact, every time you sing “Hallelu!” stand,
and every time you sing “Praise ye the Lord!” sit.)
“Praise ye the Lord!”
“Hallelujah!”
“Praise ye the Lord!”
“Hallelujah!
“Praise ye the Lord!”
“Hallelujah!”
“Praise ye the Lord!”

In some months, when Baby becomes an expert all on his own, you can switch so that you sit on “Hallelu” and stand on “Praise ye the Lord!” Switching several times or going faster can challenge or confuse even grade school children, so use caution but have fun!

Checking out Bible Story Book286. Baby-sized Devotional Times

“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”
Psalm 34:11

PRAYER: Dear Father, you are our teacher, our king, our judge, and our lawgiver. You are the beginning and the ending. Help us to listen to you and learn your commandments. Help us to fear you—to fear to displease you…to have a deep, reverential awe of you and trust in you that will motivate us to live godly lives.

THOUGHT: We started having devotional times and reading one-paragraph Bible stories to Aaron very early. We tried to choose a short story with a captivating picture, a short song, a short verse, and a short prayer…which only took five minutes or less. In that short session, Baby has learned a little about being a good student, and his little spirit has had a baby-sized opportunity to receive some spiritual nutrition through the “milk of the Word.” It’s good to “be still and know I am God,” but it’s hard to be still before you know there is a God! Nevertheless, if you make a devotional time part of his bedtime routine, he will quickly learn to settle down, relax, and enjoy this happy quiet time. Just keep thinking “short” and “pleasant.”

ACTIVITY: Here’s a lovely worship chorus. You’ll have to do all the singing, but you might be able to get Baby to clap in rhythm with you after some practice:

“The Trees of the Field” (based on Isaiah 55:12)

“You shall go out with joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you.
There’ll be shouts of joy and all the trees of the field,
Will clap, will clap their hands.
And all the trees of the fields will clap their hands,
The trees of the fields will clap their hands,
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
While you go out with joy!”

—Stuart Dauermann and Steffi Karen Rubin

Happy Baby!287. Drawing Near

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
Hebrews 10:22

PRAYER: Oh Yahweh, you have told us that if we will draw near to you, you will draw near to us. Help us to draw so near to you that we can feel your arms keeping us close and warm! Jesus has told us that he is the water of life. We come to you feeling empty and in need of cleansing. Please wash us with pure water and satisfy our thirsty souls.

THOUGHT: Do you ever “draw near” to Baby—not because it’s time for you to do something to meet her physical needs, but just to let him know you love him? I confess that in my experience, most of the time I was very content to let my infants be as independent as they wanted to be (which wasn’t very independent!), but some of the brightest smiles I ever received came at times when I would pop into my kids’ lives while they weren’t expecting me. Being close is especially fun when it’s not out of need but simply out of love!

ACTIVITY: Here’s another game that all babies love:

“The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.”
(Walk fingers up baby’s leg and toward shoulder.)
“Down came the rain and washed the spider out!”
(Make a gentle whooshing motion with your fingers from the top of Baby’s head, past his ears and shoulder, back down to his leg.)
“Out came the sun and dried up all the rain!”
(With both thumbs and forefingers make a circular shape to represent the sun and move it back and forth in front of Baby.)
“And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again!”
(Walk fingers up baby’s leg and toward shoulder again.)

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