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Art Appreciation for Babies (and anyone else)



It’s never too early to start nurturing your children toward Truth, beauty, and goodness. Our plethora of art appreciation books lend themselves well to baby lap time, so our 7 month old has already had quite the exposure to beautiful art. Her favorite is Lucy Micklethwait’s A Child’s Book of Art. It’s a large book that doesn’t fit well on the Expedit bookshelf, but I like the groupings of the pictures for a baby and toddler. It’s a seek and find kind of book with themes like family, sisters, brothers, pets, seashore, transportation, numbers, colors, and so on.

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The “Come Look With Me” series is really well done. There are titles like Enjoying Art With Children, World of Play, and Animals in Art. They have a picture on one side and a short text and questions to help you look for things in the art. I like this series for preschooler and elementary ages, but for the baby and toddler we just look at the paintings and I talk about what we see.

I place baby on my lap and say, “Let’s look at some beautiful pictures!” Then I describe the paintings to her. “Do you see the tiger hiding behind the grasses?” I point to the tiger while we look at one of Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings. Or, “Look at the girls playing the piano, just like your sister, Bear,” while looking at Two Young Girls at the Piano by Renoir. When her attention wanes we stop.

The Art Book for Children One and Two have art on one page and text on the other. I like this layout for looking at art without distractions. The DK Children’s Book of Art is a great art history book that goes through chronologically, but doesn’t lend itself to observing the art as well because the pictures are small. Not baby friendly at all, but my 6 and 8 year old like to listen to it for art history lessons.

Another of my favorites, especially for preschool and up is Usborne’s The Children’s Book of Art. The pictures are large enough to be enjoyable and there is enough descriptive text without being overwhelming. While our baby still enjoys looking through this book, I feel all the writing surrounding the paintings detracts from the painting itself.

If you can only have one book and you have a baby and toddler, go with the first book that I mentioned. Or any of the other Lucy Micklethwait books. We’ve signed out her I Spy art series from the library and those are also wonderful for a baby or toddler’s art appreciation.

If you want your baby or toddler to experience art when you are not available to turn the more delicate paper pages of the above books, look for the Mini Masters board books. Our library has many of them. Or the Touch the Art board books are neat. We own the Matisse one, but unfortunately our library doesn’t have those.

The nice thing about these books is that once you own them, you can use them for art appreciation for years to come.

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