“He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat:
and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” Psalm 81:16
PRAYER: Dear Father, you are our Rock, and honey flows from you! Thank you for your willingness to feed us with the very finest wheat—our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life. May we come to you for filling and be satisfied always with your best!
THOUGHT: Although I didn’t study sign language (and you may not choose to either), do think about the gestures you and Baby use to communicate, and help him by being intentional and consistent in whatever signals you do use.
ACTIVITY: Here are a few examples, but you can make up your own too. It is especially helpful if you say the appropriate words while you give the gesture, so Baby is learning what you mean and what to say.
“Yes,” nod and “No” shake. These are probably the first signs a baby learns.
“Open wide!” and open your mouth when you’re trying to get Baby to eat for you.
“All gone!” shrug your shoulders, hands extended out, palms up whenever he’s eaten all of a certain type of food. Either it will be obvious to him just by having you point to the spot where it was, or you can show him the empty cup, bowl, or whatever.
“Drink?” Pretend to hold a cup or bottle and tip your head back like you’re drinking.
“Hungry?” Pat tummy. (Baby can learn to pat his stomach to let you know when he’s hungry or tip his head back with his hand to his mouth when he’s thirsty.)
“Hi” and “Bye” both with a wave of the hand. This one you can practice by having Daddy come through the door and then leave again.
“Shhh” with finger to your lips. It means “time to be quiet” and those who use this gesture are ad infinitum!
“Be held?” reaching arms out to Baby or “Be held” with Baby reaching his arms up to you.
“Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him
that teacheth in all good things.” Galatians 6:6
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our teacher. He is the faithful and true witness, the cornerstone of our faith, and the “apostle and high priest of our profession.” Jesus is the holy, anointed one…the chosen one. And, he chose us too! Thank you for choosing us to be your children and the recipients of your grace. I pray that Baby would also hear your calling and accept your gifts of salvation, grace and love.
THOUGHT: Although infants are motivated to imitate, grow, and learn from birth, there seems to be a glorious day where they can actually succeed at any particular task. It’s always good to “lead the horse to water,” but let her wait to drink until she’s ready!ACTIVITY: How about trying a “Where is?” game to see if you can broaden Baby’s understanding of words. If you’ve been playing the “Eyes, Nose, Mouth, Smooch” game, Baby probably knows what those words mean by now. You can add to it the question, “Where are Mama’s eyes?” Where are Baby’s eyes?” “Where is Mama’s nose?” etc. If Baby doesn’t know, point to the correct place. If Baby still doesn’t understand, take Baby’s hand gently and point to the correct spot. If Baby does point to a correct spot when asked a question, be sure to say, “Good!” and clap for Baby. Whenever you play with him, no matter how slow he is about learning, please don’t ever criticize him or make him feel dumb! Be infinitely patient if necessary, and always give him lots of approval for succeeding. Baby needs his parents to be his Numero Uno fans until he has a good spouse to take over that job!!
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalm 23:5
PRAYER: Dear Adonai, my shepherd, thank you for taking care of me, even in the midst of darkness and trouble. Please bless Baby with that same loving watch care. Please lead her beside still waters and restore her soul. Please keep her safe and lead her into the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. May goodness and mercy follow her all the days of her life, and may she dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.
THOUGHT: When you’re bathing Baby, keep the water very shallow, so Baby doesn’t float away, and never leave Baby even for a minute. Once when Aaron was almost three and Michael about 10 months, I left them both in the tub to go get some clothes I’d forgotten to bring in beforehand. Somehow I imagined that Aaron understood about the possibility of drowning, but not so. When I returned, Michael was floating on his back with his face just barely above water. Aaron was patting him. Neither of them seemed the least bit distressed, but I was totally traumatized by the realization that Michael could have gone under and Aaron might not have understood the danger or need to lift him out or call for help! (Years later, on more than one occasion Aaron rescued one of his younger siblings from drowning, but that’s another story!) So, the moral of the story is: never, ever leave a child unattended in or near water…even if it’s only a few inches deep.
ACTIVITY: Although the soap in bubble bath is very drying to the skin, for a special treat, you might consider putting a little bubble bath in the tub. It’s also fun to let Baby practice drinking a bit of fresh water from a plastic cup floating on the warm bath water.
“I have walked in mine integrity; I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” Psalm.26:1-2
PRAYER: Father, your Christ will someday return as a glorious king, mustering the armies of the world to fight evil. Help me to remember to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”…to be a well-disciplined disciple and a person of integrity.
THOUGHT: As broad parameters, most healthy children learn to walk sometime between 8-18 months, and probably most learn between 10-14 months. However, babies are unique, complex creations, and many factors impact their development, so enjoy the journey at your child’s pace. If you’re worried about a developmental issue, consult your pediatrician, but otherwise, try not to push Baby to be super fast or worry about him if he seems a bit slow to you. Show him how to do stuff, but relax and have fun. Just flow with the grow.
ACTIVITY: How about a good marching song for our adventurer? If you sing slowly enough, he may be able to catch on to some of the hand motions, and within a year he’ll be able to imitate like a real trooper! (Sing it to the tune of “The Old, Grey Mare.”)
“I may never march in the infantry,”
(March feet up and down without going anywhere)
“Ride in the cavalry,”
(Bounce up and down with hands together as if riding a horse and holding reins)
“Shoot the artillery.”
(Clap hands and pretend to fire off a round of shells from an automatic rifle)
“ I may never fly o’er the enemy,”
(Arms out and tipping side to side like an airplane flying)
“But I’m in the Lord’s army!”
(At every “I” point to yourself, and at every “Lord” point up toward heaven)
(At every “Yes, Sir!” salute smartly.)
“I’m in the Lord’s army! Yes, Sir! I’m in the Lord’s army!”
At the end, repeat the first five lines.
“Hear attentively the noise of his voice,
and the sound that goeth out of his mouth.” Job 37:2
PRAYER: LORD God, I love that your voice is like the sound of many waters. Your voice thunders and is awesome. I also love that you sometimes speak to us in a still, small voice and whisper in our ears, “This is the way; walk in it!” Thank you for Jesus, who is our wonderful Shepherd and calls us by name. Please bless us, dear Lord: May we always listen for your voice and respond in faith, following you wherever you lead.
THOUGHT: I don’t know if anyone has figured out why there’s such an increase in autism in the world over the past few decades, and I don’t know if anything can be done to prevent it. But, I do know that the more pleasant verbal cues you can give Baby, the better, so keep up the happy flow of communication, and let him hear your voice!
ACTIVITY: Here is a verbal skills game that will become increasingly funny to Baby as he grasps language better and begins to understand which words are real and which are not. In the meantime, he will enjoy hearing the many variations on a word theme. Take any word and then make rhyming sounds, whether or not they are real words. For example: pickle, quickle, rickle, jickle, nickel, tickle, sickle, lickle, mickle, dickle, brickle. Sammy, lamby, jammy, nammy, whammy. Funny, honey, bunny, runny, money, sunny, wunny, dunny. Or, you can literally go through the alphabet from A-Z. For a starter: At, bat, cat, drat, et, fat, gat, hat, it, jat, etc. Or, air, bear, care, dare, ‘ere, fair, gair, hair, etc. If you and Daddy are riding in the car together, you can both participate and double Baby’s fun.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are my light and my salvation, so why should I be afraid? With you protecting me and strengthening me, I can do whatever you ask me to do. Help me to rely on Jesus Christ, remembering that he is the power of God and the ruler of your creation. Please bless my family. May we remember that Jesus is our peace!
THOUGHT: Babies love games! Most babies love some games where there are surprises and sudden turns as long as they are happy and feel very secure in your care. I wouldn’t try this game on a baby you don’t know, or have a stranger try it with your infant, but it’s a lot of fun for the 1-3 year-old set, and your little one will probably enjoy it too.
ACTIVITY: Here is a “ride on the knee” game that even older toddlers love. If Baby enjoys it, and he’s not too intimidated to be off your lap for a few minutes, he might enjoy watching other children play the game after he’s had a chance, and it will be a way of befriending curious children without putting too much pressure on Baby to be their direct playmate. However, if Baby is around older children who are too demanding, you may want to save this game for times when it’s just the two of you.
“Trottin’ trottin’ go to town,”
(Bounce Baby on your knee for each first line of each verse)
“Watch out Baby or you might fall down!”
(Holding Baby so he doesn’t really fall,
lean him backwards as if he’s going to fall.)
“Trottin’ trottin’ go to Dover,
Watch out Baby, or you might fall over!”
(Tip Baby off to one side.)
“Trottin’ trottin’ go to Lynn,
[which is the name of a river in England]
Watch out Baby or you might fall in!”
(Holding Baby so he doesn’t really fall,
separate your legs and let him go through.)
“In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” Psalm 27:3-5
PRAYER: Dear Savior, please bless Baby, protect her from harm and make her secure!
THOUGHT: Although playing in the sand has always been a perennial favorite of children—ours as well as the world’s—I do have one grim caution. Never let any child dig into the side of a sand hill so far that she puts his head inside the hole. Once while playing along the rugged coast of Lake Superior, our children began digging a long tunnel into the side of the sandy shoreline. Jonathan, who was probably about ten, dug so ambitiously that he had a tunnel long enough to fit almost his entire body into it…when it collapsed on him. Dad and I were strolling up the sandy beach, and had it not been for the screams of the kids and Alan’s lightning fast running and digging (in fact, frantic digging by all of us), Jonathan would have suffocated to death. To this day I have traumatic memories, as I’m sure Jonathan does. So, never let a child put his head into a hole he’s digging…sand, dirt, or anything!
ACTIVITY: Big metal, toy construction trucks were among our boys’ favorite toys for many years. They are very expensive, but at some point you might consider investing, because they last pretty close to forever. They make dump trucks, bulldozers, graders, front-end loaders, back hoe, etc.! Our kids’ favorite was probably the dump truck, which could be loaded up with sand and moved to the far corners of the world (about one foot) to build a great mountain…which would then be summarily smashed, bulldozed, and used for future construction projects back at the original site.