First Year Books - Vauvakirjat

Finnish children receive a picture book in their Maternity Package, encouraging them to read and love books. The first year is crucial for development, laying the foundation for future growth. Reading to children significantly aids their development. However, parents may not always know how to support their newborn's self-esteem and sense of connection.

I have developed Maternity Package's good practices by designing a special First Year Book series for babies and their parents to support child development and early parent-child bonding. One of the books, Tumble Time, has been translated into English. You can test these books with any baby: they love the pictures and are thrilled about them! The patterns that babies love are international.

I've designed these First Year Books for the Finnish Maternity Package to support the delicate baby year and bonding process. My book has been included in the maternity package already seven times. These books provide a valuable tool, offering moments of close contact, shared attention, and hearing the parent's voice. Such moments actively contribute to building positive self-esteem in the baby.

The goal is to enhance the well-being of both the parent and baby, fostering their bond and boosting the baby's self-esteem. These books are tailored to modern families' needs and are structured with the Maternity Package idea to enhance the bonding experience, making the baby happy and aiding their development. Parents also enjoy these moments as their baby engages with the pictures.

Even newborns enjoy looking at images designed for their visual capacity. Bright, strong colours and familiar images combined with a parent's storytelling, voice, and touch are particularly engaging. Research shows that specific shapes, colours, and images stimulate babies, which are used in these books. When a baby is enthusiastic, the parent also feels joy and success.

Parents can influence their baby’s emotions and physical responses through their contact. Singing and reading from the book and resting in the parent’s lap convey emotions such as love, closeness, and excitement, also helping in calming the baby. These first books are tools for fostering a baby’s development and family relationships.

A multidisciplinary team of Finnish experts in developmental neurology, child psychiatry, temperament research, and education specialists created this book series.
The pictures in the book give the baby something inspiring to look at to support his development. The shapes, colours and rhythms are based on Doc. Lea Hyvärinen, specialized in vision research for babies under one year old. The pictures entice the attention already in newborns, as they raise the baby’s visual interest. At the same time, the baby’s vision is tested.

The pictures in each spread contain similarities, connecting lines for the eye to follow, a variety of surfaces and colours, strong contrasts as well as facial expressions of joyful encounters, which are all important for the baby. When the baby gets excited about the pictures, the adult gets the experience of a functioning connection.

When the adult tells stories to the baby based on the pictures in the book, this creates mutually rewarding moments of togetherness. It creates the experience of a successful and functioning interaction.

By giving young families experiences of success, familyhood can be strengthened. The illustrations in the books are created by artist, AD Osmo Penna. Child Psychiatrist Raisa Cacciatore is in charge of the design and conception of the books.
The Baby Book Series:
  • Enhances the well-being of both baby and parent
  • Strengthens the bond between them
  • Supports early interaction
  • Improves child’s language development and self-esteem
  • Included in the national Maternity Package for seven years*
  • Each book has a unique developmental theme with input from specialists

* in 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010.

Practical Tips:

Early interaction between baby and parent benefits from practical everyday tips, which are included in all these books. Smaller family sizes and large generational gaps mean that sometimes the simple ways to interact with babies have been forgotten. Repeated, shared moments with a picture book can calm both baby and parent, building and fostering mutual understanding. This creates a cherished routine of togetherness and joy.

Feedback from a survey by Finnish Kansaneläkelaitos (Kela) in 2000 and 2001 highlighted the importance of these books. Parents shared their thoughts:

- "Used frequently, the baby loves looking at it!"
- "Still a favourite book even though we have others."
- "We read the book daily, sometimes twice a day."
- "The baby seems excited about the book!"

Our books are available in Finnish and Swedish, and online in Sámi. The "Tumble Time" book, especially supporting moments between fathers and babies, is also available in English.