Babies: For Nonlinear Girl

I love this book: “Babies” by Ros Asquith and Sam Williams. It features many pages of different sorts of babies (Big / little /do-lots / do-little) getting into mischief and looking adorably rumpled. My mother gave it to me when Trombone was a baby and we read it together every day for weeks and months. When Fresco came along, it was one of the first books I wanted to show him; it’s sturdy and colourful and the words are wonderfully rhythmic and easy to imbue with one’s own form of “Act-ing”. For example on the page that says there are “‘I’ll show you who’s boss!’ babies” I always shake my fist and affect a mafioso-type voice. This never fails to get The Laughs.

Fresco wasn’t terribly interested in books for a long time (he is a “do-lots” baby) but once he clicked with this book he really clicked. He laughs uproariously and always gives the mirrored baby at the end of the book a big kiss on the lips. That mirror is quite smudgy, actually, from all the baby lips that have pressed it over the years.

Trombone’s enjoyment of the book was enhanced by the additional baby in the house; of course he does not clearly remember the baby in the mirror being him and he is adamant that he is NOT a baby, so enjoying the crazy, zany things “those babies” do is really, for him, an exercise that makes him feel like he and I are a team again. This is a good feeling when there is a new sibling in the house. The old one likes to feel like he is on your team, still, even if there are more players on the bench waiting to be put on the field.

This is why I recommend this book for Nonlinear Girl, she of the pending twins. I think it would be a great book for a big sister to read to her two new siblings; siblings who are bound to have personalities as different from one another as theirs are from her. Something easy to read or recite which explores the different ways babies grow, I think, is a perfect one to have on hand, with the bonus that it is easy to memorize and recite even when especially (doubly?) sleep-deprived.


A second book occurred to me just now while I was getting Fresco back to sleep. A book called “The Baby’s Catalogue” by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This one fascinated Trombone no end. It is exquisitely detailed with each page dedicated to something baby; the first page shows several babies eating – one from a bottle, one from a breast, one from a cereal bowl. We follow these same babies through the book – there is a page about their mums and one about their dads and one about accidents (including a baby downing a half glass of unattended wine) and the babies maintain their personalities throughout.

One of the babies is fussy. She is fussy on the first page, which shows her mother trying to shove a breast in her screaming mouth. She is fussy on the page about toys, baths and teatime. And the very last page shows her dad in rumpled pyjamas, bleary-eyed, walking her around the house to get her to sleep. This normalization was so important for Trombone. And having it expressed so matter-of-factly, basically a children’s book version of “yep, babies do that” was much more effective, in our house, than all those books that explain the new sibling, what the new sibling is doing, how you might not like it, etc. Like the difference between someone who has never birthed a baby saying, “Gee I bet labour hurts but it will be so rewarding!” and someone who has, saying, “Holy shit I thought I was going to die, but I didn’t. You won’t either.”

(On reflection, it is geared more for 2-3 year olds, I think, but I betcha older sister would get the humour inherent in a baby putting his head in a toilet (“Accidents”) and anything that brings the laughs is worth it.)

And also? There are twins in the book. Twins For the Win!

This post is part of the Mother-Woman-hosted baby book shower for Nonlinear Girl. If you have a book to recommend to this dear, hatted woman who is expecting her second and third children any day now, please check the guidelines at Mother-Woman’s place and play along! No toilet paper hats will be created!

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