Having spent a good part of the last month with my newborn son (and several years ago, lots of time with my first son when he was a newborn) and given my good working knowledge of characters created by J.R.R. Tolkien, I’ve come to realize that newborns are a lot like Hobbits.
Let’s start with the obvious physical similarities. Not only are newborns and Hobbits smaller than human adults (The Lord of the Rings prologue puts Hobbits at between two and four feet), but they both tend to be chubbier. Also they have different proportions than human adults. Though not necessarily mentioned in the books, in the movies, the Hobbits’ feet appears to be large for their sizes. And we all know newborns have proportionally large heads compared to their bodies.
And then there’s the hair. Hobbits have hair in weird places, namely their feet. If you’ve never had a baby, you might not realize it, but newborns often have hair in unexpected places. Many are born with fine hairs (called lanugo) on their bodies, commonly found on the back, shoulders, ears, and forehead. My own baby has adorable little hairs on the helix of his ears. Yet neither Hobbits nor babies tend to have facial hair.
Of course, there’s also the matter of food. Hobbits and newborns eat frequently. One of my favorite quotes from the LOTR movies is when Pippin asks Aragorn about “second breakfast” and Merry say, “I don’t think he knows about second breakfast.” Pippin replies, “What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper?” Going back to the LOTR prologue, we learn that Hobbits will eat six times a day when they can. My own newborn is on the twelve nursings a day meal plan. He has all the meals mentioned by Pippin, plus brunch, dunch (dinner-lunch), midnight snack…
I think the most interesting similarity is in their general philosophies in life. Granted no one can really know what a newborn’s philosophy in life is, but based on observation, I think it’s safe to say that a newborn is happiest when life is simple. Keep newborns fed, make sure they get their rest, and provide a fairly tranquil environment and they’re happy as pig in…well, newborns do quite a lot of that too (but we’re not here to compare newborns to pigs). Hobbits, too, prefer a simple, quiet life. In fact, Bilbo Baggins is considered highly unusual and outlandish for his adventurous ways.
That’s not to say there aren’t differences. Hobbits are fond of smoking tobacco in pipes, and with the exception of those very disturbing images of that smoking baby in Indonesia several years back, babies aren’t known for smoking. Going back to the LOTR prologue, Tolkien notes that Hobbits have keen eyesight, not so much for newborns. Tolkien also mentions that Hobbits are swift and silent, while even the quietest of newborns are full of cries, squeaks, snorts, farts, and any number of other strange noises.
Overall, though, I’d have to say that Hobbits and newborns are more alike than dissimilar, and they are both pretty darn adorable!