Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for the Tenth Month, Week 42)

Blocks288. Asking and Receiving

“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.

Babies Meeting289. Patient Teaching

“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!Alan and SamuelACTIVITY: 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!!

Bath Toys290. Constant Watch Care

“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.

Baby standing. M+G's kids copy291. Straight and Upright, but Flow with the Grow

“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)
“Yes, Sir!”
(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.

Listening to voice292. The Sound of Your Voice

“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.

Trottin' Trottin' Go to Town293. Peace in the Midst of Jolting

“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.)

Metal Truck Toy294. Safe on the Rock

“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.

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Week 33)

Making a joyful noise226. The Bonding of Babble

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.” Psalm 100:1

PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for being the master of creativity and ingenuity! Thank you for making vocal chords and eardrums…for the world of sound and language, music and musical instruments! Please bless us, dear Lord, so that our hearts are tuned to you and we are constantly making melody in our hearts to the Lord.

THOUGHT: I always thought my second-born, Michael, was quiet until my firstborn started school…and then I sometimes wondered if Michael would ever quit talking! Rejoice when Baby babbles at you, and be sure to respond with happy babbles back!

ACTIVITY: When Baby starts developing a vocabulary, you can have many happy “conversations” by imitating sounds together. When he says, “Ba-ba-ba,” say “Ba-ba-ba” back to him and see if you can get him to respond to you by smiling or repeating the sound. Once he has the idea of imitating, try another sound, such as “ma-ma-ma” or “da-da-da.” “La, ha, ga, va, pa…etc.” When you hear Baby making other vowel sounds, such as “oo,” add that to your repetoire: “ma-ma-ma” then “moo-moo-moo,” “ba-ba-ba” and then “boo-boo-boo.” “Boo, Soo, doo,” etc. or if you catch her saying “ooh!” you can see if you can get her to say “low, bow, so, mow, or go-go-go!” Try to listen and record all the sounds you hear. If you’re inclined, make a poster to put next to the changing table where you keep a record of sounds you know he can make, and practice “talking” with him while you change his diapers. Remember, every positive experience is a way of bonding and expressing love if it’s done in the spirit of love and joy. Make your times together always bright and warm and full of cheerful communication!

Playing with blocks227. Sidetracking the Clingy Baby with Challenges

“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
Psalm 17:8

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help me to protect Baby and cherish him, even as you do us!

THOUGHT: When Baby gets whiny and clingy for no apparent reason, your gut reaction may be to feel overwhelmed, and a red light may start flashing in your brain: “I need space; I need space.” Commit your frustrations to the Lord and pray for grace. If Baby needs your attention because he’s insecure, unhappy, sick, or tired, it’s always good to give him reassurance. On the other hand, some children are very dependent and need some gentle encouragement to play alone. At this stage, if you can give a child a toy that requires quite a bit of cognitive reasoning to master, you might be able to sidetrack him with something other than his obsession to get straight to Mama!

ACTIVITY: Blocks and nesting cups are great for this type of project. Start with two blocks. Stack them and see if Baby can take (knock) off the top block. Put the block back on and see if Baby will take it off again. Then, take the second block and set it on top of the first. Take it off and give it to Baby. See if Baby can set the second block on top of the first. Then, put a block inside a nesting cup and take it back out. Give the block to Baby and see if he can put the block inside the nesting cup. Nesting cups usually come in sets of three to five, each a different color and size, and they are made to be placed one inside the other. Few babies understand what the cups are all about to begin with, but if you demonstrate how one cup can be put inside the other (or turned over and placed on top), before too long, Baby will get the idea and start working on various combinations.

Head Stunt!228. Negotiating New Turf…with Help

“Your words have upheld him that was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees.” Job 4:4 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Dear Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls, thank you all the times you’ve upheld me with the wisdom of your Word. Thank you for restoring me when I fall. How good forgiveness and restoration feel! Thank you for your encouragement in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Just as I learn from your wonderful care of me, please help me to know how to give Baby both protection and enough freedom to practice. Please give me great wisdom to know how to help Baby when he’s stumbling and restore him when he falls!

THOUGHT: Before crawling becomes passé for Baby, be sure he has some opportunities to experience negotiating various surfaces on all fours as well as by walking them while securely holding your hand.

ACTIVITY: Of course the cushiest surface is a well-padded carpet, but Baby needs to be able to negotiate all types of surfaces. How about going afield into the highways and byways of your world to find some relatively clean, safe crawl-ways? Make sure he’s wearing a pair of sturdy overalls (and wash his hands between experiences), and then let his try his hands (and knees) at slick linoleum, braided rugs, shiny polished wood, concrete sidewalk, an asphalt walkway, grass, sand, and if you can find some—astro-turf or polished marble. Let him get some practice at negotiating new turf!

Baby in Doorway229. Learning to Handle Doors

“Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139:10

PRAYER: Bless us, dear Lord! Please lead us, protect us, and keep us safe every day!

THOUGHT: When Baby starts barging through doors, it’s time to teach him some lessons about how doors work so he doesn’t get hurt. (Of course, sooner or later he will get hurt, but the later and lesser the better.) Notify your husband to always watch for Baby over the next few months, since Baby could be coming in behind him or behind a door where your husband is heading. Train yourself and your hubby to open and close doors slowly and gently to make sure Baby is not on the other side just wishing to come through. If you are trusting a door to keep a stairway safe, make sure the door is not only closed but also has its metal latch firmly engaged.

ACTIVITY: Disappear behind a door and let him find you. Crawl with him in and out of doors, showing him how to push them with your hands or head, or pull them open with your fingers. If you have wooden closet doors that fold in the middle, show him very, very gently how they come together and pinch in the middle. Demonstrate on your own finger and say, “Ouch!” Pull your finger out fast and pucker up like you’re going to cry. Put his finger in the door frame by yours and gently close the door until you feel a little pinch (which shouldn’t pinch Baby’s finger enough to really hurt, since his is smaller than yours) and say, “Ouch!” pulling out your finger and his hand very fast. Baby probably doesn’t yet have the power to hurt himself badly (except by accident), and if he experiments on his own, he won’t pinch his finger too severely. But, if he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, his finger could be taken off by a slamming door.

Playing Games230. Helping Baby Think about Something Other than You!

“You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off.” Psalm 139:2 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Oh Father, help me long to be with you as much as Baby longs to be with me!

THOUGHT: If Baby spends most of his waking hours trying to track you down and climb up into your arms, remember to be thankful that he’s healthy, social, and likes being with you! Aaron used to crawl to my leg, stand up, and put his hands up with an “Uh! Uh!” gesture that meant, “Pick me up!” When he got big enough to talk, he’d say, “Be held! Be held!” So, I called him my “Be held Bunny.” Enjoy being so valued!

ACTIVITY: Here’s a game that’s good for Baby when he loves to stand. When Baby wants up, say, “Elevator Up!” and pick him up (under his arms, never by his arms lest you pull his elbow or wrist out of joint), lifting him as high as your face and greeting him with a kiss and a hug. Then say, “Elevator Down!” and put him back down on the floor. This teaches him both the meaning and sensation of the words “up” and “down.” Sometimes Baby will love the game and want to play several rounds (or until you’re tired), but other times he will just want to be held. If that’s the case, hold him for a few minutes or sit (or lie) down with him on your lap. After you’ve had a little “snuggy mom (or dad) time” stop, say, “Elevator Up!” and pick him up again. Take him over to a toy or play area, and then say, “Elevator Down!” and put him down by some toys. Sometimes you can get him interested in playing for a while, and sometimes he’ll crawl right back over to you. When you feel like pulling your hair out because you can’t get any work done, just remember that loving and caring for your family is the most important work you do!

Reading on floor together231. Developing a Bedtime “Script

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” Proverbs 29:17

PRAYER: Dear Father, Please help me to be consistent and kind at all times with Baby.

THOUGHT: “Scripts” are predictable patterns of activity that help children develop memory patterns. That’s one reason why bedtime, bath time, and eating routines are so important to babies. If you follow a predictable pattern, Baby will learn to anticipate what is coming. This is called “memorizing a script.” If you explain what you’re doing as you go, so much the better! Baby won’t understand all the words, but he will be picking up some word cues. When the script is pleasant and the pattern consistent, Baby will feel secure and able to prepare emotionally for the event. Research indicates that the best way to get people to sleep easily is to get them up at the same time every morning. For this reason, try to pick a wake-up time that works well for you and your husband (every day if possible), and then put Baby to sleep as close to the same time as possible every night in order for him (and you all!) to get a good night’s sleep.

ACTIVITY: For everybody’s peace of mind, develop a pleasant bedtime routine. We used to bathe our babies in the evening to get them relaxed and happy, and then I’d nurse Baby while rocking and singing lullabies before tucking him/her in. We even started reading Aaron a bedtime story out of The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes long before he understood the words, and I’d use a little song as a cue that it was bedtime:

“Wee Willie Winky, runs through the town”
(run with your fingers up Baby’s leg),
“Upstairs and downstairs in his night gown”
(run up one arm, over head, and down the other arm).
“Rapping at the windows”
(knock on arm of chair),
“Calling through the locks”
(cup hand to mouth and look like you’re looking for someone),
“Are your children all in bed? For it’s eight o’clock!”
(Or, nine o’clock, or whatever is Baby’s bedtime!)

Evening Constitutional232. The Pleasure of an Evening Constitutional

“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.” Ecclesiastes 11:7

PRAYER: Dear Father of Lights, thank you for creating a world warmed by the sun and filled with an ocean of air for us to breathe. We take joy in the miracle of life! Thank you for blessing us with our amazing bodies and your amazing world! May we delight in your creation and care for it, as you have ordained for us to do.

THOUGHT: An evening constitutional with Mama and Daddy is another extraordinarily good habit for your whole family. Baby can watch the world go by from his safe perch in the stroller and listen to the lilting tones of Mama and Daddy as they discuss amazing mysteries. Baby will work hard at learning to decipher their exciting code. This wouldn’t be the best time to begin a hot argument, but it would a great time for sharing all about your day and emotionally unwinding together. Remember to always speak well of Baby in his presence and tell of his latest progress and exploits. He’s gathering more information about himself than you think, and your positive regard for Baby will help heighten your husband’s appreciation for what a precious privilege it is to be his parents. (Obviously if you have concerns, these need to be addressed also, but try to discuss problem areas alone after Baby is soundly sleeping and won’t become distressed.)

ACTIVITY: Could you take 20-30 minutes each evening for a family stroll? If there’s a park nearby where you can stop for even five minutes and let Baby go on some rides while held in your arms, so much the better! Sunshine and fresh air on pleasant evenings are good for both parents and children. The experience will increase your metabolism, relax your body, and help quiet your mind.