A thorough look at “an inscrutable creature,” a “glorious, unfathomable mystery”: the infant.
Like any new parent, Day was intrigued with the behavior of his son. How did he know breasts and thumbs brought food and comfort? Why did he like to be touched so much? Why did he smile, and was he really expressing an emotion when he did so? After failing to find adequate answers, Day delves into the historical, social and personal world of infants to find out why babies do what they do. The author blends scientific data with historical and cultural norms and aberrations, covering the pros and cons of breast-feeding, the ins and outs of wet nursing, and the benefits of thumbs and/or pacifiers. He cites some interesting statistics—e.g., "according to a recent experiment, it is 16 percent more of a burden to carry a baby in your arms than in a sling”—and emphasizes the importance of touch, which is “life itself…all the crucial messages sent by a parent—love, security, commitment—are communicated through touch. It's our lifeline." Day sheds light on the way societal attitudes have fluctuated over time as to the proper methods to raise a child, especially regarding feeding, sleeping and holding the infant. But "even if we are up to our ears in infancy stories—it will never be enough.” Fortunately, the author provides plenty of encouragement and anecdotes about successful parenting and the requirements for ensuring a healthy, productive life for a child. The story of an infant is as much about the parent as the child, Day notes, and no individual child or adult has the exact same experience as any other.
An entertaining study of newborn behavior.