By: Hannah Pritchard
Moms are constantly pouring out. Some days, as moms of babies and toddlers, it can feel like we are being asked to pour out a whole waterfall on our tiny ones. We can easily begin to feel like a worn out robot stuck on repeat as we change the third diaper before 8am hits, fold towers of laundry that little hands love to knock over, chase after hands and knees while they scurry off and crawl towards outlets and cabinets, prepare lunch with a fussy baby at our feet, wash the same bottles over and over again, or retrieve the same sippy cup that continues to be cascaded down from the high chair.
Before we know it, our hearts go on auto-pilot, filling our days with only the have-to’s and neglecting the want-to’s. We can altogether forget that God has gifted us the privilege to shepherd little hearts and make disciples, drawing our babies and toddlers towards Him from the very start. Caring for children this young can often feel like we are just checking off a list of physical needs and obvious daily tasks: Changed, cleaned, fed, swept, scrubbed, cooked, rinse, and repeat. It’s easy to feel that teaching little souls about Christ doesn’t even matter until later. But everything you do from sunrise until sunset (which, I’d like to point out, is a lot), brings an opportunity to plant seeds of truth into the hearts of your baby or toddler. How can we plant these seeds as we scrub baby-food out of hidden crevices and pick up abandoned cracker crumbs off of the floor?
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us that we can sow seeds of truth into our children as we go about our day. This scripture tell us to “impress” God’s commands on our children and “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Here are some practical ways to water the hearts of your little ones.
1. Regular Quiet Time
The launching point for all of this is understanding the value and the necessity of regular quiet time. This is the time for your cup to be filled so that you have something life-giving to pour out.
As you feast on the living word of God and allow Jesus to quench your thirst, you’ll have the fuel you need to point tiny disciples towards Him. Sometimes this can seem like an impossible task. We often feel the temptation to numb our minds and hearts with entertainment after a long day or during a nap, when we actually do have an idle moment. There is nothing wrong with this inherently, but too much choosing entertainment in place of regular quiet time with Jesus results in a weary and lifeless soul. By choosing the practice of intentional quiet time, you are allowing God alone to sustain you, and in turn creating an atmosphere of truth for your children.
There are so many great resources available to aid you in teaching truth to your little ones. I could never say enough positive things about Seeds Family Worship. Seeds has hundreds of songs available, with lyrics pulled directly from scripture. They also have music videos with motions and dance moves for toddlers and older. I also highly recommend Slugs & Bugs and Little Praise Party; both of these resources are filled with engaging, truth-filled songs. I have been playing songs filled with scripture for my baby ever since he was still growing in my womb and I am already seeing fruit from this decision and he is only 9-months old! He giggles, laughs, and dances when I play his favorites and he wants to listen to the same ones again and again. My heart is full of so much joy because these songs that he adores are straight from the word of God. Scripture is being hidden in his heart before he has even turned one. These songs have also actually helped me learn and memorize countless verses.
Praying over the tiny souls God has entrusted in our care is one of the most powerful things we can do. Pray for them everyday and all day. God is available to meet needs big and small, from prayers concerning sleep disturbances or health issues to prayers for future salvation or hunger for God’s kingdom. Pray over your little one and pray with your little one. By making prayer a normal part of daily routine, your baby or toddler is able to see open-line communication with the Father modeled. Some of my deepest prayers are in the middle of the night as I rock my baby to sleep; I am pray earnestly over his future, approaching God with all sorts of heart cries. I pray curiosity and hunger for God’s words and ways over his tiny heart. I pray for his boyhood, manhood, and everything in between. I pray God would stir up passion and fervor in my son’s soul, giving him the ability to lead his generation for Christ. Other times, in very real, raw, and overwhelming motherhood moments, I pause in the kitchen with tears streaming down my face, asking God to meet me in my mess and guide me through the chaos. My son is then able to see his mom yearning for God in difficult moments.
Once babies fast-forward through the newborn stage a large part of their day consists of playtime. Babies and toddlers learn, grow, and explore through playing. If your little ones are anything like my little guy, his heart is happiest when I’m sitting right next to him on the floor playing with him. As moms we are trying to manage so many responsibilities at once that sometimes we forget the importance of actually getting down on the floor, pausing everything else, and playing. We are able to show our babies the intentional love of Christ when we meet them where they are at in their current developmental stage. Older children might really receive love through a deep conversation or intentional question-asking, but with babies intentional playtime is how we can reach their hearts. As we make eye contact, read the same story over and over again, build a tower just to have it knocked over for the tenth time, or create a silly voice for their favorite teddy bear our babies are learning that they matter. Jesus takes the time to metaphorically get down on the floor with us and dive into what’s important and when we model this for our little ones we are able to plant this seed of love and truth into their hearts
5. Caring For Their Needs
Although caring for your baby or toddler’s basic needs everyday can get mundane and repetitive and may seem like the very thing that keeps you from planting seeds of truth, it is actually one of the very things that plants the seeds in the first place. As we care for their needs and provide safety and security, we have the opportunity to mirror God’s abundant love for them. Although we will never measure up to the all-consuming, perfect love the Father pours out on us, we are able to offer a glimpse of what this kind of love looks like in action. Just as we never have to question God’s ability to meet our needs, our little ones are later able to have more receptive hearts towards this type of loving God when we have met their needs to the best of our ability in the little years.
As you go on outdoor adventures with your children, what a chance you have to point them to the astonishing handiwork of our God! Everywhere we turn we are able to see glimmers of His creation. From a young age we have the opportunity to give the Father credit for these marvels and enjoy them with our little ones. Point out all of the specific things that God designed and describe Him as the master artist. Collect colorful leaves with your toddler or name the colors of the flowers and the trees with your baby. These outdoor activities will plant seeds of truth about God, our creator, in their hearts.
Hannah is a wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. She began walking with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She currently lives in a small town in northern Maine. Hannah is passionate about reaching women in all life stages with the gospel and particularly loves empowering young girls to pursue Christ.