high contrast, high style

19 Mar

Checkerboard Vans for toddlers, Little Ruler, $19.95 (on sale)

Scientists say that when babies are born, it takes a while for their eyes to get up to speed.  They have a hard time distinguishing between foreground and background, and they don’t yet see the full color spectrum as adults do.  I’m not a scientist, and don’t know much about the matter besides the fact that high contrast colors and patterns – blacks and whites and plaids – delight most new babies to no end.

(Incidentally, my husband’s currently reading a fantastic book called A Thousand Days of Wonder (see my Amazon store at top right).  It’s written by Charles Fernyhough, a developmental psychologist, who documents his daughter’s development through her first three years.  He also keeps a blog titled The Ladybird Papers).

If you’re expecting (congratulations) or need some gift ideas for new babies, I’ve discovered three items that fit the high-contrast/high-style bill.  And they’re all kid-tested-and-approved.

1. Manhattan Toy Infant Stim-Mobile

We have friends in the UK with a four year old.  They’re amazing people, but more than this, they’re incredibly smart.  Really, freaking, scary smart.   When their daughter was born, her dad bought her this mobile.  When I found out I was expecting, this was the first dedicated purchase my husband made for the new baby.  Don’t know if he’s hoping there’s some transitive property attached to the mobile, but I have to think that Fionn did respond to it in some way when he was really small.  The images come on plastic-coated cards, and the patterns increase in complexity, so you can switch them out as your child grows.  My only gripe is that it was difficult to fit onto the crib, although it attached to the cradle easily. 

2, Art for Baby

L:Natasha, Julian Opie; R: Fragment 3, Bridget Riley

There are quite a few versions of these high-contrast board books on the market, but this is the only one featuring “young british artists” Julian Opie, Damien Hirst and Gary Hume.  I’m actually not sure who likes this book more, me or the kid.   There’s something incredibly satisfying about indoctrinating the child into the art world at such a young age. . . it’s actually hilarious to create stories around the pictures too. (“Fionn, this picture is from the man who cut up a shark and displayed it in formaldehyde.”)  At the end of the day, what’s really important is that this book is interesting and still holds his attention.

3.  wee see videos

Described as “a gentle introduction to our visual world,” these videos are Art for Baby on hyperdrive.

Here’s the description from the website:

“Part art installation, part pacifier, Wee See is a collection of black-and-white animations built from basic shapes to delight both child and parent. As vision develops slowly over the first months of life, Wee See provides surfaces of bold, well-defined artwork to engage your baby’s curious mind and bring the screen to vibrant life. With great sensitivity to the delicate nature of the audience, Wee See’s animations move methodically slow and maintain an extraordinary simplicity yet remain endlessly inventive.”

Oh, and they’re from Brooklyn, always a great thing.  Here’s a sneak peek.  Warning, it’s kind of trippy! (I know some adults who might want this for themselves…)

wee see – collection one from Rolyn Barthelman on Vimeo.

There’s more to come – bedding and room decor.  But for now, enjoy, and have a great weekend.


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