My daughters were 4 and 3 when their baby brother was born. They were aware of his existence for about 5 of the long 9 months of gestation, during which they were subjected to daily reminders of how ‘lucky’ they were to have a new baby joining the family. With the best of intentions, friends and relatives reminded the girls of the important role they would have ahead of them: to teach, play with and encourage the newbie. Imagine their horror when they discovered their new play friend was a crying, spewing bundle of blankets who COULDN’T EVEN TALK! We’d been very responsible and informative about what was going on inside Mummy’s tummy, and we’d prepared them well for their future responsibilities (which they’ve since embraced with aplomb) but we forgot about the interim period of adjustment. 101 Things to do with Baby would have filled that gap beautifully.
Jan Ormerod’s charming picture book could be enjoyed by any young reader, but would make a particularly useful sibling gift. The illustrations are simple and easily comprehensible by non-readers who can follow one big sister’s journey towards accepting the new arrival in her household. The numbered images (which also invite counting games/skills development) take us through a day in the life of this family.
“What can you do with a baby? You can 1. say ‘hello’ and 2. chuckle his chin.”
Later on … “11. You can spy him with your little eye, or 12. put him on the floor and 13. have a chat.”
There are many ways you can help your parents to feed, clean and settle the baby. There are interesting ways that Daddy carries the baby and things the baby should not eat. There are some tricky things to watch out for too, like “41. hair yanking, 42. nose pulling ….and 47. ankle biting!” But there are always lots of kisses and cuddles to look forward to at bedtime.
I could imagine using this book for some special one-on-one sibling time in the heady weeks after a baby enters the family; at that time when it is more important than ever to share parental affections evenly and strategically, although that can be incredibly challenging to achieve. It would also be important to discuss what level of ‘help’ is acceptable for your family. For example, the big sister in the story lifts and carries her baby brother, whereas this may not be something you’d want your own children doing depending on their ages and capabilities.
Another likeable thing about this book is how well it demonstrates the small and significant things that babies require. Amidst the 101 things you can do with, for and to a baby, there is no mention of a designer nappy bag, teaching him a foreign language or making sure he’s the first in his mothers’ group to sit up. Rather, the emphasis is on the fascination to be found watching a fish in a fish tank, making a daisy chain or even watching the washing spin around. It encourages us to slow it down a little and focus on ensuring the baby is clean, fed and loved – and that the sibling is included in the process.
101 Things to do with Baby is published by Hardie Grant Egmont in the Little Hare imprint and I thank them kindly for my copy.
For a change this week I’m going to link my book review to Thankful Thursday at Kate Says Stuff. Every week I enjoy other people’s ‘thankful’ posts, but this book really reminded me to be thankful for the little things you learn to appreciate with kids in the house. This morning my children are embracing school holiday freedom with an elaborate sticker/glue/sequin drawing project happening all over the kitchen table. The girls have been debating which is their favourite planet (Saturn, it was agreed) and their favourite dinosaur (always a Triceratops for Miss 4; Miss 5 is a swinging voter). There are plenty of challenging days when you’re a parent, but right now I want to lock this lovely image into my memory. I’m thankful for the daily reminder my children offer that planets and dinosaurs and stickers are AWESOME. Simple as that.