Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for the Tenth Month, Week 40)

Baby climbing stairs 2274. Upwardly Mobile

“The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

PRAYER: Oh Jehovah-Tsidkenu, truly you are the Lord, our righteousness! Please give us strength to do what is right and climb every mountain for you!

THOUGHT: Baby may be ready for some lessons in safely climbing staircases. Going up is dangerous but intuitive. If Baby hasn’t already frightened you by trying to climb stairs, be proactive and start lessons!Baby climbing stairs 1ACTIVITY: If she hasn’t started already, sometime between now and when she’s a year old, try tempting Baby into learning how to climb stairs by placing a toy up one step higher on the staircase than she can reach and see if she’ll climb a step to get it. Once she’s good at going up, she needs to learn the harder skill of how to go down. To get down safely, she has to turn around on her tummy and back down, feeling for a firm footing on the step below her. This is really complicated, but you can help by placing her on her tummy at the top of the stairs and then gently helping her turn around, scooting her a few inches slowly backward until you can place her foot on the first stair down. Also, if you can persuade her to stop after she’s climbed a few stairs (which didn’t happen with Aaron, who was always a man on a mission and wanted to climb straight to the top once he started…so what’s new?), you can coax her to try to reverse the process and come down. Again, you can help her feel her way with her feet, and if you stay right behind her, encouraging her and helping her feel secure (perhaps even with a hand gently on her back), it won’t take long before she’s got the feel of climbing both up and down.Baby climbing stairs 3

Tenth MonthBaby tasting sand275. Learning about Yukky Stuff

“Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Dear blessed and holy ruler, our commander, you are El-Olam, the everlasting God! You know what is good for us and what is bad. Teach us to discern good and evil and always choose good. Please bless Baby with discernment too, and protect him from his own curiosity. Keep our entire family away from every form of self-destruction.

THOUGHT: I can remember most of my kids grinning at my dismay over a mouthful of masticated dirt oozing down their chins. Furthermore, I can remember liking the taste of dirt myself, and I can remember secretly sucking on pebbles! It seems crazy to me now, but I only confess to clarify that not everything that is bad for Baby will taste bad to Baby. I remember with fresh horror the day I found Aaron guzzling down the tail end of a beer someone had discarded in a public park, and I remember catching Joel as a toddler trying to scrape bubble gum off a laundromat floor.Baby inspecting flowerACTIVITY: Be sure to teach Baby the meaning of the word “Yukky.” Well, you may have a different name you want to use, but find a word that means, “That’s no good for you! Don’t eat that!” and use it every time you see Baby attempting to dine on inedible cuisine. Wrinkle up your nose as if it is really awful stuff, and shake your head back and forth. Don’t be too quick to take his prize away unless you think Baby is actually in danger of choking or being poisoned, but always remove what is truly harmful.

Baby with Stick276. Yucky Versus Yummy

“Let him turn away from evil and do good.” 1 Peter 3:11 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Father God, you are a consuming fire, but we also know that for us you are a refining fire, and every time we get burned, you’re trying to train us to turn away from evil and do good. May we learn our lessons as quickly and painlessly as possible!

THOUGHT: I’ll never forget Michael helping me unload glass for recycling. While I was gingerly placing the bottles into the bin so they wouldn’t break, little Commando Michael was gleefully launching them like nuclear warheads, exploding in victorious triumph over every nerve-jangling crash! So, you can just imagine Aaron’s delight when he discovered that the small lever on a toilet could cause such a stirring commode-tion! Meantime, you might consider turning your toilet paper rolls around so they unroll from the back. Babies develop a fascination for patting the toilet paper roll with a downward stroke (which will only help wind it up better if it unrolls by having to pull down from the back rather than the front), so if you don’t want T.P. unwound all over the bathroom floor and pulled like a fire hose down the hallway…it might be time to adjust your program for obtaining T.P.Baby with AppleACTIVITY: Try practicing the names of body parts in front of the mirror, both yours and Baby’s: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands. Try dangling a lightweight bracelet or rubber band on one of your ears and let Baby take it off. Then, dangle the same object on one of his ears and see if he can figure out how to get it off. Let him watch himself munching an apple or cracker in front of the mirror while you comment on how delicious it tastes. It might be time to add “yummy.” “Yummy” and “yukky” sound pretty similar, but if you illustrate with good facial expressions each time, Baby will quickly learn to distinguish them.

Baby at Meijer Garden277. Enjoying God’s Sunny Days and Starry Nights

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?…Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands.” Psalm 8:3-4,6

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for the Star out of Jacob, our Lord Jesus Christ! May he always be the guiding star of our lives. Thank you that he is the bright and morning star, the first and the last, the beginning and the end… and that he will come again one day to take us home to be with him forever! Please bless Baby, dear Father. May he grow up to be strong, sweet, and full of faith and goodness. Help me to train him up in the way he should go, and may he stay close to you throughout his life.

THOUGHT: The 277th day in Aaron’s life was July Fourth. What a grand day to celebrate! Hasn’t the Lord given us an amazing world to explore and enjoy? Be sure to take advantage of the “freebies” in your community, such as parades for holidays and concerts in the park in the summer. Call your Chamber of Commerce for a schedule and try to enjoy some of the seasonal happy happenings in your area.

ACTIVITY: I would never intentionally try to make Baby aware of the sun, since directly staring at the sun can cause blindness, but if you have Baby out at night, see if you can get him to respond to the moon. He might be able to see it and point to it, although he probably won’t respond to stars yet. Here are a couple of poems to share on starry nights:

“I see the moon and the moon sees me!
God bless Baby, and God bless me.”

“Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight.
I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight.”

Baby and Bells 278. Ruling Server, Humble Leader

“Thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.” Psalm 27:9

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your constant care for us, more tender than a nursing mother’s care for her infant! Thank you for being our servant as well as our Lord! May I be a humble servant for my family as well as their authoritative mother!

THOUGHT: Only by God’s grace can we learn to lead by humble love and service.

ACTIVITY: Whether or not Baby has started waving yet, he might enjoy a windmill, which is a little toy that spins when it’s whisked through the air. You can teach him that there’s more than one way to skin this cat: the wind caused by vigorous arm movements, or the wind created by blowing. Let him try making the windmill spin by waving his arm first. Then, let him try the “hard” way. Blow gently on the windmill and make it go around, then blow very gently on Baby’s face so he feels the air. Blow on Baby’s hands and arm, and then see if you can get Baby to blow on you. (Be prepared for some fallout; babies are often very spitty when they try to blow.) If you have any wind chimes, blow gently on them, talking to Baby about the lovely sound that’s made by blowing. Invite Baby to blow on the wind chimes and see if he can make them tinkle. (You might hold his hands so he doesn’t break the chimes if his instinct is to grab and pull.) Then, try him some more on the windmill. He may get the hang of blowing, but you may have to help position the windmill so it will catch the air. If he’s not ready yet, make it spin for him a few times, and then put it away, trying again in a day or two. In a few weeks, if he hasn’t accidentally destroyed it first, he will become an old hand at zipping it through the air.

Baby checking out food279. Experience Goodness First

“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Isaiah 7:15

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the wondrous bread of God, Jesus, our bread of life!

THOUGHT: Learning to refuse evil and choose good is a life long process, but it all begins with having experiences with what is truly good so we know it exists!Baby eatingACTIVITY: Here’s an activity to help reinforce the ideas of “yummy” and “yukky.” Start by arranging about six of Baby’s favorite foods to eat, just two are three bites of each, for example: raisins, cheerios, small pieces of apple, pear, banana, finger sandwiches, baby food, and a cup with milk or water. Then, on the other side of the table, arrange six items that should not be eaten, such as toys, a book, waste basket, garbage pail, a potted plant, a rock, and one of Baby’s shirts. Hold up the inedible items one at a time and say, “Yummy?” Then act like you’re considering eating it, but then conclude, “No! Yukky,” and make your disgusted, bad-smell expression and take it off the table. After you get done, start with the items on your lunch menu. Hold up a piece of apple and say, “Yummy? Then actually eat a bit, and exclaim, “Yes! Yummy!” and offer some to Baby. In between courses, ask about some of the “yukky” entrees on the floor (or even pick up a bit of lint or crumb) and see if you can get Baby to shake her head, “No!” When you’re all done eating the first round of “yummies,” go through some of the various offerings, and see if you can get Baby to shake her head or nod with you as you inspect the possibilities and offer her this or that. Baby might even be able to make silly faces the way you do.

Father and Son Flying Game280. Lifting our Hands and Hearts

“Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.”
Lamentations 3:41

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for carrying us in your strong arms that never tire! Renew my strength, dear Lord, so that I can take joy in caring for Baby today.

THOUGHT: God renews our strength for us as we pray and wait on Him.

ACTIVITY: “Birds, Bees, and Butterflies:” Start by squawking like a seagull. When you have Baby’s attention, start waving your arms slowly up and down as if you’re a sea gull riding on the wind. Pick him up with both hands, turning him around so that he faces outward, and then “fly” him all around the room, swooping and sailing like a bird. After you’ve put him down, start making a buzzing sound like a bee. Run quickly from place to place, buzzing and flapping little wings (arms with hands on hips), pausing here and there for a busy second and then moving on. At some point (once a little suspense has built), pause in front of Baby and pick him up, continuing your “honey hunt” in little busy, bouncy movements around the room, holding him tightly against your chest, his head facing out. After Baby has been deposited back at the beehive, reincarnate yourself as a butterfly. This time make flowing, gently exaggerated up and down movements almost as if you’re a ballet dancer, gracefully stopping here and there to inspect a “flower” (table, chair, etc.). After a few inspections, discover Baby as if he is a totally unexpected treasure! Hold him up high, his face toward you and looking over your shoulder. Swing him gently from side to side and practically float around the room, setting him momentarily on any handy items of furniture before moving on. When you’re tired, set him down where he has something else to distract him before you get too worn out!Flying High

Bless Your Baby (Ideas for Baby’s Thirteenth Week)

  1. Giving and Receiving Love GiftsFlowers for Mother's Day“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts.” 1 Corinthians 14:1

PRAYER: Dear God of love, thank you that you are the definition of love! May we as a family always pursue you…pursue love… like an adventurer struggling to climb to the top of Mt. Everest. May we search for you with the passion of a miner digging for diamonds and the desperation of a thirsty deer panting for a water brook! May we seek for you with all our hearts…and may we always find you May our love for you overflow in love, peace, and goodwill toward all those around us.

THOUGHT: Making and giving gifts is a wonderful way of expressing love. The mother of a not-quite-three-month-old has little time for making gifts, let alone including Baby in the process, but here’s one idea for a gift that could be a long-term blessing for everyone.

ACTIVITY: One of the hardiest and most indestructible houseplants is ivy. Take a picture of Baby (or your whole family) and have it laminated (local print shop), then secure it onto the side of the pot. Write or print off a little gift card, perhaps using Psalm 128 as a starting point for explaining that you now have a new little sprout in your home, and that you hope each time your loved ones water the plant they will remember that you love them. Perhaps (if your recipients are prayer warriors), express the hope that as the plant grows, they will be reminded that this Baby is growing too and ask that while they water the plant, they might also pray for Baby’s growth in grace and strength. While you’re at it, if you can, assure your loved ones that you will be praying for them as well! Prayer is one of the world’s greatest spiritual gifts that we can give each other.

  1. A Carnival for ThreeOut for a walk“For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.” Isaiah 66:12

PRAYER: Dear Father, Thank you for your blessings of food and good appetites. Thank you for the advice in the Bible to eat and drink and enjoy the good fruit from hard labor. It is so true that “two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.” Thank you that every child born comes from both a mother and father. May both of Baby’s parents care for her and one another through all the happy and hard times! Thank you for extending peace like a river to us. May Baby be able to grow up carried in a mother’s arms and bounced on a father’s knee!

THOUGHT: How about a carnival? This is something you can play with one child or several (especially if several people are willing to be “rides”).

ACTIVITY: Pretend to be different types of transportation and take Baby for “rides.” For examples: bus, car, boat, airplane, rocket ship, canoe, roller coaster, tilt-a-whirl, train, merry-go-round. Make lots of appropriate sounds like “chug-a-chug,” screech, whistle, toot, beep, splash, whirr. Be expressive vocally but not too loud, and always be gentle with your movements, which can be big and sweeping but shouldn’t be fast or Baby might get frightened. Also, the carnival should not occur while Baby is trying to digest a meal, or she may spit up a milk shake! Make sure Baby is still having fun after each “trip.” Some babies adore such play, and others find it very frightening, so be sensitive.

  1. Ideas for a Photo Op with FriendsAdventuring copy“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.”
    1 Thessalonians 3:12

PRAYER: Oh, Father! Thank you again for being such a wonderful father to us, and for placing us in families and among friends! Bless Baby! May he grow up to love and be loved by many, many people! May he always be surrounded by friends and know the blessing of giving and receiving. May our home be filled with fellowship, laughter, and warmth…as hospitable and inviting as a warm fire on a winter night! You cover yourself with light as with a garment…please clothe us with the radiance of your love. Make us lighthouses in this dark world to draw others into the safe harbor of your love.

THOUGHT: Whether it’s a holiday, a family reunion, or just a special day with some dear friends, you can commemorate it by taking some time for dress-up fun and photos!

ACTIVITY: What about a dress-up day? If you’re all alone and bored, try various hats on Baby’s head, let him look in the mirror, and take a picture (maybe for another little photo album). If you’re with friends and relatives for a special occasion, be it Christmas or the Fourth of July, how about using it for an opportunity to make some wonderful family memories? Let the toddlers have lots of freedom to choose what they want to wear (Daddy’s boots or Mommy’s scarf), and the children can help make suggestions for what Baby will wear. That’s a game that could occupy kids for quite a while, and it could expand into some real fun if the grownups get in the act and try on funny combinations too!

  1. Taking a StandPracticing Standing“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” Philippians 4:1

PRAYER: Dear Lord of Lords and King of Kings, What a privilege to stand for you! Bless our baby, Lord! May she always stand for truth, for mercy and justice, for love and kindness. May we “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” Thank you that we can stand on the solid rock of Christ, from whence we were hewn! Thank you for our sure foundation. Thank you that we are not left to sink in miry clay or be slowly buried under the shifting sands of the world’s desert, because you have rescued us and placed us in the mighty fortress of our God! What an awesome God you are!

THOUGHT: One of the best ways you can help your baby develop is to anticipate what new skills she’s on the verge of learning and support her in her efforts. Around three months, many babies are strong enough to start standing up and can learn much faster if you give them supervised practice. Be Baby’s coach and cheerleader, and she’ll become your star player!

ACTIVITY: Once Baby is starting to stand, she can use lots of supported practice sessions where you lean her against the soft back of the couch and see how long she can balance. Your job is to keep her from losing her balance so much that she loses her nerve and doesn’t want to play anymore. This fascinating game can be played for a minute or two at almost any time of the day when Baby is feeling spunky, since practice makes perfect, and babies are all about learning new stuff. Give Baby lots of happy approval for her feats, she’ll be all the more motivated to perfect whatever skill she’s trying to master.

  1. Comforting BabyBaby in Moby Wrap 9.13“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” Isaiah. 40:1

PRAYER: Dear Blessed Savior, how often we take comfort in knowing that you are there and that you love us. Help us to trust you as implicitly as Baby trusts us! May we be dependable and loving, so that Baby learns to trust us. May we be tender and kind to Baby, and may Baby respond by becoming a kind and gentle soul.

THOUGHT: I don’t know if your babies will get sick as often as our babies did. Our oldest two, Aaron and Michael, were born during my husband’s medical school days, Jonathan and Kathryn during residency, and Daniel and Stephen during the first years of medical practice. In addition, we were always involved in church and I loved company, so, our babies were constantly (although unintentionally) exposed to all types of infections and illnesses. Each family will have to consider how to balance the risks and needs of their children, but overall, some exposure to non-serious infections is probably inevitable and a normal part of Baby’s immune system development.

ACTIVITY: What are ways of showing comfort? Understanding looks, gentle tones, going out of your way to let Baby be close. Nuzzling, kissing, holding hands, gentle touches. Does Baby have a very soft something to hold? A silky blanket, favored stuffed animal or dolly can be a real comfort. My mother used to place her silky nightgown in my crib when she’d leave, and the familiar smell and feel comforted me. The greatest comfort you can give (beyond good care) is your presence. Look for ways to comfort Baby when he’s sick, and keep him as close to you as you can.

  1. Praying for Grace to Endure ExhaustionMama and Baby“For his anger endures but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

PRAYER: Merciful Father, how often we come to the end of ourselves…of our energy, our creativity, our patience, our endurance in suffering and self-sacrifice. We discover how shallow we are. Remember that we are but dust. Strengthen us in our inner man when we are exhausted. Fill us with your spirit and grace. Renew us to the task of parenting when we are tired. Bless Baby! Help us all to endure, and restore us to a place of peace and pleasantness after we have been tried and refined. May we all come through, remembering that the trying of our faith is more precious than the purifying of gold. May we come forth bright and beautiful for you…vessels fit for our master’s use! Thank you that your anger is brief and your favor is unending. Thank you for the hope that joy will come in the morning after a long, sleepless night. Please bless us with grace to endure!

THOUGHT: Learning patience in suffering is one of the most trying tasks for both Baby and parents, and illness is usually the chief source of suffering. How do we as parents learn compassion and patience? By empathetically remembering our own suffering.

ACTIVITY: Try to remember how you felt when you were sick. In the midst of trouble, pray for grace and deliverance, and then do the best you can. There are no magical cures for the trials of this life, but God will provide grace to endure if only we will ask. Have you heard the saying, “Pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you”? God’s grace is sufficient. God, grant us grace through the night and joy in the morning!

  1. Access and AdjustTwins“At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.” Psalm 119:62

PRAYER: Lord, God of our fathers, may we—like hundreds of generations before us—seek you early and continue to praise you through each day of every year of our lives…from early in the morning and even at midnight if we’re still awake! Thank you that you show mercy to thousands of generations who trust in you. We want to be among those generations! May our children be blessed throughout every succeeding generation until Jesus comes back to reign on earth! We thank you that you are the judge of all the earth who does right. Give us your wisdom to see clearly and judge rightly as we appraise our lives from time to time. May our family be like trees plants planted by rivers of living water, doing those things which bear the peaceable fruits of righteousness. We bless you, Lord, with all our souls, and may everything within us bless your holy name!

THOUGHT: Every once in a while it’s good to stop and access your situation, not only on New Year’s Eve, but on a regular basis. How about taking inventory for a few minutes? How are you feeling about Baby? What are the problem areas and tensions? How are you and your husband coping? How is your husband feeling about Baby? Has your love life been fully restored? What areas need adjustment?

ACTIVITY: How about sitting down with your husband at some point today to discuss this question: What could be done to optimize our enjoyment of this present stage of life? Try to answer for Baby too. Problem solving with positive action can really improve your family life, no matter how difficult or wonderful it is. (And yes, some parents are blessed with twins! 🙂 )

  1. Emergency Measures for When Mom’s SickBaby looking at computer 7.09“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.” Matthew 8:16

PRAYER: O God, our help from ages past and our hope for years to come, thank you for being the great healer and sustainer of life. Thank you also for being a father to the fatherless and the judge to help widows. Thank you that Baby has many who love her and are willing to help take care of her. Thank you for those faithful nursery workers who watch Baby so we can enjoy church services. Thank you for many material resources to help Baby learn and grow as well. Help us to trust in you with all our hearts and lean on your understanding to know how to best bring up Baby! May the people we entrust Baby to, and the influences in our home, all be wholesome and good, so that Baby grows up with a mind filled with those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report.

THOUGHT: There are some very clever, worthwhile videos available. However, videos are to creativity what candy is to diet. They must be used with extreme moderation or they will be detrimental. One of the best things you can do for your child is bring them up without the mesmerizing influence of television, and I would implore mothers to resist resorting to commercial entertainment whenever possible to help your children develop creativity, resourcefulness, industry, concentration, and contentment.

ACTIVITY: That being said, if you are really sick and need resources to help you keep Baby occupied, this might be the perfect time to offer Baby a bright children’s video, but only if Baby finds it engaging (which she might not yet).