Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Baby Book, NZ Style ...?

New Zealand Baby Record Book
Could the timing be better?  Hachette's release of a baby record book (in stores today) coincided with Mia's early days!  Is this not fortuitous?  I requested one for review, and sadly, the answer to that is: not so much.

Things I like about it:
  • That it is hardcover and well-bound.
  • The fern and koru watermarking and detailing.
  • The teensy envelope included for a lock of hair (it's hard not to like things in miniature).
  • The teeth diagram, labels indicating arrival times to be completed (something I've filled out in my girls' WellChild books and have often thought, "This is more than medical")
  • The pages on the birth and baby's name have good sentence starters / leads.
  • The order things appear in.
Things I'm not sure about:
  • Using the baby's voice, e.g. "My parents..."  "My visitors..."
  • The colours and style overall are quite feminine.  While I suspect most of the people completing such a record will be mothers, *most* of the babies the book is being completed for will not be feminine (I'd say about half, at best...like my math?).  So the abundance of lavender  and curly twirls may not be appealing to an adult male thumbing through keepsakes and anecdotes from his early years.  Esky's baby book features Eric Carle drawings (of The Hungry Caterpillar fame) -- a neutral theme.  The look of this book may appeal to the people who pick it up from the sales stand, but all I'm asking, is will it suit their sons?
  • I find the cover looks a little corporate.
Things I dislike about it:
  • The proliferation of stock baby photos.  Not-my-baby photos.  Big ones.  Everywhere.  Often in a frame opposite information about my baby.  Haki's first reaction when he flicked through the book: "That's not Mia...wait, none of these are Mia.  That's weird."  Granted, I haven't filled it with images of our baby yet, but the exisiting images often fill an entire page, or two -- edge to edge -- they're not really cover-able.
  • Places where your own photos should be added are indicated by cute little frames, complete with cutesie detailing.  But I have no idea what the dimensions are for these, and they're certainly not 3x4"s.  The last thing you want as a parent of a newborn/infant (a parent who has mustered the energy and discipline to complete a record book) is to edit your photos down to some obscure square after measuring up the required size with a ruler.  So I figure you're mostly likely to stick your standard-sized photo over top of the pretty little frames.  A shame, since making them 3x4" wouldn't have been that hard.
  • There's a section dedicated to "The Baby Shower."  Er...are we assuming people only buy baby books for first children?  Or that we should throw a baby shower for each child?  Maybe I am the one that's abnormal, but I did not have a baby shower for Mia.
  • A minor thing, but annoying no less, the "Family Tree" page has mothers' names on top and fathers' below for some branches, and the reverse on others.  Thankfully, I looked carefully while I was completing it, but I'd venture many sleep-deprived parents would make later-humourous entries here.  Not a biggy, like I say...but a little sloppy.
  • A section is included for visitors to write messages to the baby.  Aw.  That's nice.  But the space given is directly beneath where you have noted the gift they gave you...and these are listed...meaning your visitors are a) presented with a blank line if they came empty-handed and b) seeing what everyone else brought, regardless.  Perhaps the list of gifts should be kept separate from the message entries?  Again, not hard to do.
  • This is the first time I've seen a section for vaccination dates included in what I consider a sentimental baby record book.  The WellChild book's record on this is all I need, what about you? 
  • Homebirthers are a little excluded by the semantics of a sentence or two.  I'm not saying a section should say, "Homebirth details:" (because this wouldn't apply to everyone either), but open sentence starters for the first day at home would work.
  • The book promises to "capture the essence of Kiwi babyhood."  Herm.  Things I observed about the book that are 'Kiwi:' the ferns and koru.  Yes?  And presumably the babies (although they could've been from anywhere, so it's slightly redudant if the babies are unknown to you).  If a baby record were to deliver on this claim, I think there would need to be more essence of this place here -- perhaps illustrations (rather than photos) of babies in very kiwi scenes (pulling a buzzy bee, picnicking under a pohutakawa, chewing a jandal, wearing a fantail T.?).  Further, we have some traditions that are unique to Aotearoa (such as planting native trees to mark the burial place of a child's placenta) -- and there's no real place to record something of such significance.  An open sentence starter such as, "To remember your birth we..."  would open the door for parents who opted for this tradition to record as much, while leaving this generic enough that parents that didn't (us), could finish with, "...blogged the heck out of it."
  • And on the non-Kiwi note -- the part asking about the baby's Nursery was very American, to me.  None of my babies have had a Nursery (including our first), in fact, every health care professional I've met in this country will tell you not to sleep your baby in a separate room from you.  Maybe everyone else is ignoring this (your call, peop's), and this is completely relevant...but for me (and many others I know), there's no Nursery.
Conclusion:
I would not buy this for myself and I would not give it as a gift.  If you like photos of babies, in general, then maybe you'll like this book...but it's a bit of Where's Wally? finding your own baby's face amongst the large, sometimes full-spread images of others' offspring. But you'll note from my handwriting throughout, I've opted to use the book, nonetheless.  How have I reconciled my distaste for the smattering of other-baby throughout?  Easy;



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