photo credit Shelly Morgan
When I had my first baby, I considered her a little miracle. Yes, I had spit-up on my shoulders and an endless round of dirty diapers, no time to brush my own teeth, and lots of lost sleep. But I’ll always remember the warm feel of her snuggling while breastfeeding and how she listened intently to my husband’s songs. Her first smile lit up the room (and still does!), and her first belly laugh was music to our ears. Perhaps her favorite thing, though, was to crawl up on a lap to look at a book together. (Spoiler alert: Now she’s a children’s librarian!)
Rewind a bit more to when I was in college. A popular peace slogan was, “What if they gave a war, and nobody came?” Once I’d tasted the joys of interacting with my own young baby, a twist on that slogan popped into my head—“What if they gave a baby, and nobody came?” That thought brought me to tears, and still does.
Babies need everything, and bonding with a parent who can nurture them is essential to their physical and emotional well-being. Babies can accomplish amazing feats—if they have a cheering section behind them. Babies’ brains grow fastest in that first year. Parents have a huge influence over how their baby’s brain grows. Their support affects how their children will act, move, learn, and socialize throughout their lives.
In the 1960s, Kodak ran a TV commercial using a Malvina Reynolds song that makes me cry every time I think of it (to this day!). “Turn around and you’re two / turn around and you’re four / turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door.” A childhood flies by, so you’ve got to pay attention and savor all those little moments, trials and triumphs along the way.
Fast forward to the present, when I’ve had the good fortune to see our family’s next generation starting—new babies (now little girls) going through the same round of amazing milestones.
Into my writer’s mind popped a simple, rhyming litany of all those fabulous firsts: first roll, then creep. First crawl, then sleep. I wanted it be so simple that babies could sit still to finish while enjoying the rhyme and rhythm, as well as a book today’s parents could relate to and love sharing with their babies.
I am lucky that Charlesbridge’s editors shared my vision—and extended it to include babies from three different families. Michael Emberley’s humorous and human illustrations show both mothers and fathers exhibiting the full range of exhilaration and exhaustion their much-loved babies bring.
I couldn’t be more excited that my first book for babies and the parents who love them is coming out into the world today. Happy book birthday, Baby’s Firsts!