A Thousand Things Dear to the Mother Heart: The Baby Book: 1899

An image from a baby book, courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

An image from a baby book, courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

Mrs Daffodil wishes a Happy Mother’s Day to her readers!

The baby book as we think of it today, was invented in 1898 by the C.R. Gibson Company, so at the time of these articles, it was quite the novelty. The baby books in the households Mrs Daffodil has served had padded satin covers, possibly hand-painted with flowers and adorned with ribbons. The pages contained whimsical illustrations, often by noted illustrators such as Maud Humphrey.

Young Mother’s Fad

It has become a fad of late for the young mother to invest in one of the little diaries (which is about as good a descriptive name as any for the books in question) for her firstborn. This book, which several firms have got out under various names, is designed as a sort of diary of the child’s life from its birth to its teens. There are pages for its pretty photographs of various ages, for its quaint and witty sayings, for its unusually cute and bright acts, for its budding characteristics and talents, which may need development later on. There are also pages devoted to its physical life, records of its ailments and actual illnesses, with remedies and curatives, which may be of not a little service to the mother when the next little one appears. This diary is so arranged that the trouble of keeping it is very slight indeed. Its interest to the child, when grown up, cannot fail to be great and its value to the mother, in the care of the children who may follow this little one is untold. Truly, this is a fad which has considerable common sense to it. Elmira Telegram.

The Sandusky [OH] Star-Journal 2 February 1899: p. 2

A page for baby's adorable quips. Courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

A page for baby’s adorable quips. Courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

The fashionable baby has long outgrown the days of infancy before it is able to read, but it has, nevertheless, a book sacred to its own diminutive self. The “baby book,” as this volume is usually called, comes in several forms, but they all follow the same general idea of setting forth the most important facts in the infantile biography. These interesting volumes are variously bound in cloth, in white and baby colors such as pale blue and pink, with perhaps a portrait and the title emblazoned in gold or silver on the front. One book has on the cover an infant with a crown above its head, suggesting that the baby is the monarch and rules the house, of which fact everybody who has been in a home where there is a baby is well aware: the fat and dimpled God of Love kneels before the baby offering a casket of jewels. Investigation of the book discloses decorated pages with blanks for the recording to all important dates and facts, so that when “Finis” is reached, between the covers will be inscribed with accuracy the principal facts of the baby’s complete history. The various pages are enlivened with artistic illustrations and sometimes extracts of poetry appropriate to the text and characteristic of healthy, happy babyhood.

The books are variously arranged but they all aim to record the progress of baby’s life, beginning, naturally with the date of its birth. On the first page is a place for the baby’s name to be inscribed in full and spaces for the autographs of the father, mother, physician and nurse. The pages that follow provide for the dates of the first outing, with any interesting incidents, the appearance of the first tooth, the putting into short clothes and when the first shoes were bought, the learning to creep and walk; on other pages the weight and height of the baby at various ages may be set down and on still others details of such epoch-making events in the infantile career as the christening day, the first birthday, the first Christmas, the first valentine. Then there are pages whereon to affix the baby’s photographs, a lock of hair, photographs of those near and dear to the baby, various souvenirs and pictures, such as of the church where the baby was christened, the clergyman who officiated at the ceremony, in fact, all manner of interesting data concerning the baby may be preserved in accurate, progressive and concise order.

The baby’s book is gotten up in various styles, the degree of elaborateness depending, of course, on the cost. Some are cloth, others leather-bound, but now and then a book will be made to order for a baby of wealth and social distinction and then it is exquisitely bound in white leather, satin or velvet with the monogram in gold or silver.

Patriot [Harrisburg PA] 18 May 1903: p. 6

It may be a beautiful booklet of tooled white suede or one covered with moiré silk, and, if the baby’s name admits of symbolic treatment charming decorative variations may be run on the theme. It is very interesting to continue a story of this kind well into young manhood or young womanhood.

Idaho Statesman [Boise, ID] 7 February 1904: p. 4

A page for snaps of Baby, courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

A page for snaps of Baby, courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


2 thoughts on “A Thousand Things Dear to the Mother Heart: The Baby Book: 1899

  1. Pingback: “After twenty years I have seen her”: A ghost story for Mother’s Day: 1885 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

  2. Pingback: A Baby Saves Its Mother: 1873 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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