Book Review: Begin with a Blanket

Book Review of Begin with a Blanket. Potential, LLC

I distinctly remember watching my newborn squirm and cry face down on a blanket. It looked like torture. I snapped pictures and sent them to my mom with the caption: “I don’t know if I can do this!”

I knew that tummy time was important for development, but I didn’t understand the details of why. The recommended minutes of tummy time per day seemed impossible. And I didn’t know any strategies for making it happen other than some pictures I had seen on my Instagram using a therapy ball—but who has time to do that 20 minutes per day?

Plus, my baby looked much more comfortable/happy in his plush, bouncing, vibrating, light-up, music-playing seat.

Enter a new book from fellow occupational therapist, Rachel Coley.

Rachel has worked as a pediatric occupational therapist since 2006. During that time, she saw increasing evidence on her caseload that infants were not being given opportunities for movement development. With all of the fancy contraptions for holding our babies, our little ones have less time to do what they are programmed to do—squirm and wiggle.

Begin with a Blanket: Creative Play for Infants is a book with 45 super simple ideas for making tummy time and movement development feel like play.

It took me 25 minutes to read this book cover to cover. I wish that I had read this book before my first child, but I’m happy to have read it now.

Who will benefit from this book?

Parents who want to buy minimal baby gear

Rachel doesn’t talk about this explicitly in the book, but it seems to be one of the general themes that parents do not need to buy fancy equipment to foster healthy development.

Almost all of the activities use everyday items that many people will already have around the house (mirrors, towels, gift bags, boxes).

Parents interested in a general introduction to motor development

This is a book written with busy parents in mind. It is a light read. Rachel includes a brief paragraph at the bottom with information about how each activity could impact childhood development, but it isn’t a textbook.

Rachel recommends further reading in the back of the book.

Parents who are concerned with Flat Head Syndrome

Rachel mentions in her biography, and it is evident throughout the book, that preventing flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly) is one of her passions. This condition affects a large percentage of children, partly due to the Back-to-Sleep initiative and partly due to the time infants spend in one position due to baby holders.

Parents looking for a way to communicate with caregivers

The activities in the book are broken down according to how many months old your baby is and what developmental milestones they have reached. For most babies, the activities in this book will be appropriate until your baby is 4-6 months. This timespan runs through the time when moms who are returning to work will begin the leaving their baby with another caregiver. Sharing this book with your caregiver may aid in conversation about what exactly they are going to do with your infant all day.

Craftiness NOT required

The idea of a book with 45 activities, some of which include basic set-up, may make Pinterest-phobic parents like me squirm. But, speaking for non-crafty parents, I can confidently say that this book will still be of value to you. I can see some parents enjoying methodically working through each activity month by month. The book is a great guide for that.

More than being prescriptive, this book has given me some basic knowledge about infant movement development. It has shifted my perspective about tummy time from being a torture session to something I can enjoy with my baby and an opportunity to begin laying the foundation for resourceful, simple play. 

You can keep up with new books and blog posts from Rachel at her website, CanDo

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