Bathing Babies in Three Cultures

BR Bathing BabiesHere’s some fascinating footage by Margaret Mead, of babies being bathed in 1940s Papua New Guinea, 1930s and 1940s America, and 1940s Bali. It includes a voiceover of Margaret Mead describing the baths, which strives for anthropological neutrality, but doesn’t quite hide the fact that she thinks the 1940s American technique is the most modern and scientific. M. loves this, and has watched it many times, and L. (10 months) is enjoying it too.

My favourite line, from the 1930s America section is “The bath is a long elaborate process, which may take as much as an hour, and dominate the whole life of the household for the day.” We just fit the kids’ baths in when we can, and I’m always a bit mystified by families for whom it’s a major part of the daily routine!

Age: 0+
Child rating: 9/10
Adult rating: 9/10
Running time: 12 minutes
Available for free on Youtube

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Le Merle (The Blackbird)

BR Le MerleThis short film by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart (National Film Board of Canada) is based on a French-Canadian folk song about a blackbird who keeps losing body parts and having them return three-fold. The animation is semi-abstract, with simple white lines and circles representing the bird on a slowly shifting sky-like background. The song is sung by Trio Lyrique, with instrumental accompaniment, arranged by Maurice Blackburn. We all enjoyed this, and M. laughed aloud a number of times.

Age: 1+
Child rating: 10/10
Adult rating: 10/10
Running time: 4 minutes 30 seconds
Available free on the National Film Board of Canada website

David Attenborough (various)

Only watch the episodes about smaller gentler animals – avoid the ones about large predators! When M. was a baby, we watched various Attenborough episodes, and they would sooth him to sleep. One of his first words was “A-bu-wa”! We haven’t tried them since he was older, but I’m sure he’d love them now too.

Age: 0+
Child rating: 10/10
Adult rating: 10/10
Running time: usually an hour
Some episodes available free on Youtube

Ivor the Engine

If your child likes trains, and you’re trying to keep Thomas the Tank Engine out of the house, I’d highly recommend Ivor the Engine instead! This is another great Oliver Postgate/Peter Firmin production from the 70’, set in Wales. It features lots of sweet stories of village life. The music, by Vernon Elliot, is pleasant and well-composed, and features bassoon.

Age: 2 1/2+
Child rating: 10/10
Adult rating: 10/10
Running time: 1950s episodes are 10 minutes, 1970s episodes are 5 minutes
Some episodes available free on Youtube

The Friendly Giant

This is a well-loved Canadian show, which ran from 1958 to 1985. Usually I want to watch anything M. watches with him, so I will know if there’s anything it would be good to discuss afterwards, but this is so gentle and calming that I don’t mind leaving him alone to watch it. Each episode consists of The Friendly Giant (Bob Homme) playing recorder and talking with his friends, a giraffe and a rooster, and reading a story or hosting a musical guest. It’s perfect for a cold winter day that’s too stormy to go out, or a kid that’s home sick and needs some warm, comforting entertainment.

Age: 0+
Child rating: 10/10
Adult rating: 6/10 for adult enjoyment, 10/10 for feeling good about your kid watching it
Running time: 15-minute episodes
Some episodes available free on Youtune