Culturebaby and I thought that every now and then we'd share with you some of her favourite cultural things. Other than the song My Favourite Things, which incidentally is (go on have a little listen), there are lots of books, songs, pictures and toys that have caught her eye/ear/little fingers/mouth.We'd love to hear about your favourites too.
Immediately on leaving hospital, we were excited to find that already Culturebaby was fascinated with black and white images. I had read an interesting book during the grumpier stages of pregnancy (when I read a lot on child development in an attempt to ignore the neverending sickness and heartburn and look beyond the scary birth ahead). It is called The Social Baby by Murray and Andrews. Using mainly pictures, it looks at how babies communicate from the very first stages, and how to pick up on these signals. It explains that in the first weeks of life babies see differently to us and are most attracted to people's faces, bold patterns (especially black and white) and contrasts between light and dark (that's why babies stare at windows). It also notes that the best distance for a baby's focus in the first few weeks is 22cm (just the distance from mummy's face while feeding - clever mother nature!). I also read a rather dense but fascinating book called Montessori from the Start. The book discusses the importance of giving babies toys with a purpose, and again talks about mobiles (the first they recommend being black and white with flat geometric shapes), mirrors and reflected light. "The baby gradually develops focus on a moving object, tracking of an object, and perception of colour and depth." It's worth getting the book just for the rough and ready diagram of psycho-motor development (hand, body and brain development - what to expect when...)
We had therefore stocked up on some black and white books and a mobile for over the changing table before Culturebaby arrived. My friends also clearly understood my geekiness and we received some lovely black and white pressies. It was worth the planning. At 5 days old Culturebaby was already turning her head and concentrating on a black and white frieze for a couple of minutes. It was so exciting to watch!
If there was a world championship in charity book shopping, my mum could represent the British heavyweights at the very least. Despite being amazed at the seemingly untouched range of discarded books she constantly finds, my mother has exploited the opportunity (and the bargain bin) and has created an entire library for Culturebaby. She also found Culturebaby's first favourite book: Ladybird's First Focus Patterns. It doesn't seem to be in print anymore, which is a shame, but there are many very similar products, such as her cloth cot book. The Pattern book was simple but brilliant (see pics) - it folded out into a frieze and could be propped up round the side of her crib or round her when she was lying down - and she loved it! Her other favourite, which we put down the side of her changing table, was a brilliant book I bought at the Tate Modern called Art For Baby. I have become rather an evangelist for it as it is both beautiful and engaging - a book (with frieze) containing monochrome images by famous artists.
"The development of the child during the first three years after birth is unequaled in intensity and importance by any period that precedes or follows in the whole life of the child." - Maria Montessori