World of the Baby

Georginia O'Hara, Author, Georgina O'Hara Callan, Author Doubleday Books $25 (190p) ISBN 978-0-385-26056-5
Organized thematically to cover allied subjects such as conception, birth and infancy, this pictorial historical survey of how we have viewed and cared for babies is a handsomely produced if predictable compendium of familiar information. ``It is sad, but true, that not all babies are wanted,'' notes a chapter on foundlings from Moses onward, and ``to understand why people disposed of their babies in this way, we need to examine their motives.'' Of greater interest is the factual material unveiled by O'Hara ( Encyclopaediasic of Fashion ): to induce pregnancy, one American Indian tribe ``cut off the feet of gophers which they boiled and then ate''; another sent would-be mothers to walk under trees, believed to be roosting places for babies' souls. The practice of swaddling was intended to discipline as much as to protect a child; one English rite required that a newborn's head be ``washed in rum for luck.'' Excerpts from works by Dickens, Hardy, Thackeray, Wilde and others complement paintings plus illustrations of the ``American-made Miller Breast Pump,'' a zodiac-inspired 19th century Arts and Crafts cradle and the like. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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