(On DVD, February 2012) Being a newly-minted dad is the best feeling in the world, but holding a squirming, sometimes-crying two-weeks-old isn’t so good for movie-watching. Eventually, I figured that the most appropriate film to watch while rocking back-and-forth would be a narration-less documentary about babies that I would set on fast-forward and appreciate without sound. I suspect that Babies is one of those films that is enhanced by being at a certain place in life: I probably wouldn’t have been so endeared to the stories of four babies from around the world (Namibia; Mongolia; Tokyo; San Francisco) had I not been cradling my own daughter in my arms at the time. Still, Babies achieves its own objectives: By showing the first year of life of four very different babies, it’s enough to tell us about the differences and the commonalities between every one of us. By opposing third-world laissez-faire to first-world overprotectiveness, it suggests that all kinds of experiences are equally valid in bringing up baby. Depending solely on natural sound rather than trying to impose a redundant narration, Babies also chooses to rely heavily on spectacular cinematography: from a purely visual standpoint, there is a lot to appreciate here, especially in third-world locations. A few moments of humor also enliven the film, perhaps the funniest being a goat drinking up a Mongolian baby’s bathwater. While Babies doesn’t feel particularly deep or insightful, it does manage to reach and maybe even exceed its own goals, and the result is perfect for a new-parent’s gift basket.