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CSS for Babies: A Critical Analysis

Published by Chris Coyier

The following is a super duper serious critical review of the book CSS for Babies. Super. Duper. Serious.

I'm afraid even the title of the book is an invalid CSS style declaration.

Are we capitalizing tag selectors now? That's just weird. And type="text/css"? What is this, 2010? And is there a space in the file name or not? I need to know, I'm following along at home here.

Didn't we just learn what a selector was and that declarations have them? And what's with #fffff. Baby is going to be learning to read here soon and that's just confusing. I would have gone with, oh, maybe "white".

Points for font-size eh? Are you just trying to cause your baby cross-browser testing pains? And I can't even tell you the last time I used :link. My links are links. And I think your syntax highlighter is broken.

Presentational class names. Perfect.

All navigation has to be in a list right? And you're pretty sure you want to repeat the tag name in the identifier right? And you're pretty sure you'll never, ever use something like a navigation list on a page more than once right? And that set height on a text element. That's almost always a good idea.

Makes sense to still keep teaching proprietary non-standard IE filters for sure for IE 8 and down for sure. By the time your baby is old enough to use a mouse it'll be irrelevant but that's OK. And you might as well set it to its default value too. Keep that code light!

Tag qualified presentational class names! Even better! And mixing unit types for related properties! And that width? That's approximately 10 physical miles / 16 kilometers.

lol jk. I think this book is hilarious and makes a great baby gift.


  1. I’m pretty sure filter:alpha(opacity=n) works in IE8 too.

  2. Alex Vazquez
    Permalink to comment#

    This was an awesome review Chris.

    This poor baby’s formatting is so sad. He/she only gets one line for his/her CSS and that bothers me.

  3. Permalink to comment#

    +1 for Mathias says

  4. jamiethepiper
    Permalink to comment#

    no time for whitespace, your baby can’t read so who cares about readability. Great review, Chris =]

  5. Permalink to comment#

    I’ve got the “HTML for babies” book for my 2-year old… It’s not too early for him to start :)

  6. Bump the book… You should just give your kids photoshop instead of paint and watch the magic. Once they are past that stage, they will know enough about design to figure out the CSS magic.

  7. Oh, I loved reading this. Good idea Chris!

    Also, when needed, the babies may want to use just “1” for setting the opacity – without pointless decimals.

  8. James Garrett
    Permalink to comment#

    That’s the wrong ‘its': “And you might as well set it to it’s default value too. ”
    But I don’t want to be discouraging when you’ve put so much work into the review.
    <img src=”elephant-stamp.jpg” />

  9. Natalia
    Permalink to comment#

    Mommy and Daddy can teach baby best practices later. I think I made worst mistakes when I started.

  10. Ratko Solaja
    Permalink to comment#

    Oh God why? :facepalm:
    This is good for only one purpose, unlearning.

  11. Probably good enough for a baby but my toddler is working on Compass/SASS and I can’t find a sufficiently colorful tutorial for her.

    • Mark Ayers
      Permalink to comment#

      If you’re not joking you’re pretty much the best parent ever.

  12. Covarr
    Permalink to comment#

    Default opacity can be useful on hover, if it is otherwise at lower opacity (for example, to highlight items in an image-based navigation bar).

  13. Permalink to comment#

    Great review, thanks. :-)

  14. This is fun, but it’s a shame that babies teach them bad habits in the CSS.

    But I think the idea of this book is excellent for beginners with CSS, I just hope that the next version of the book use CSS standards

  15. That book definitely is hilarious, and a fun post too. 123em and 45678910px take the cake.

    Why do they need to teach CSS to babies anyway?

  16. This is such a great post to read. Stimulating me to read much more of your posts. Keep up the good work. Hoping to see a lot more excellent posts from you shortly.

  17. Lol I really enjoyed reading this, making the same book for older people with good practices would be a funny idea too.

  18. Markus
    Permalink to comment#

    “And that set height on a text element. That’s almost always a good idea.” – They do set display:block on the link, so I don’t see a problem with it.

    Nice review!

  19. Permalink to comment#

    haha really crazy :-) This is called CSS-TRICK!

  20. “CSS for Babies” invalidating the CSS babies from the first page.

  21. Permalink to comment#

    Funny, especially as my wife is about to drop any day now!

    This might well be the only thing I read for the next couple of years.

  22. Haha – this is hilarious.

  23. Hassan
    Permalink to comment#

    OMG LOL, where can I get this book from?
    Seriously, I want to send it as a gift to someone :D

  24. Gurnzbot
    Permalink to comment#

    Why is using type=”” a negative thing or not needed anymore? Just curious.

    • In HTML5, the type attribute on <link> elements defaults to text/css, and on <script> elements it defaults to text/javascript.

      It’s not that they’re a bad thing, just that they aren’t needed.

    • Gurnzbot
      Permalink to comment#

      Thx sir!

  25. My baby is constantly trying to help me work on my websites, is there an advanced version of this book? He already knows how to bang on the keyboard and everything.

  26. Chekelin
    Permalink to comment#

    The book is very cute :(

  27. Permalink to comment#

    Haha, this is a cute article. I bought HTML and CSS for babies for my daughter on her first Christmas. She’s 19 months now and still pulls them out to read once or twice a week – now that she’s learning letters and numbers I’ll ask her to find them on the page which she loves. I would recommend HTML for babies over CSS though, it holds her interest more. Try reading the above book outloud and imagine listening with a young child’s attention span, it’s kind of awkward. HTML for babies tells more of a story. :)

  28. Permalink to comment#

    Hilariously entertaining review.

  29. Permalink to comment#

    I can’t stop laughing !!!

  30. Permalink to comment#

    I loved this one. A great gift for my kids.

  31. Permalink to comment#

    Where is the demopage? :P

  32. Jeff Chew
    Permalink to comment#

    I think my 3 month old would love this! But if I catch him referencing this when he’s older, I’ll ground him!

  33. “…I think your syntax highlighter is broken.”

  34. Permalink to comment#

    lol :))

  35. amoskane
    Permalink to comment#

    Awesome review, but did the authors know that the best way to keep toddlers away from anything is to tell them it’s “for babies”???

  36. I learned everything I know with this book :D

    Awesome review!

  37. Jared
    Permalink to comment#


    Appreciate the humor of this review. I was laughing pretty loudly when I read it. I think partly because I could hear your voice (in my head) while reading. Had to share it too! Great job!

  38. Alex
    Permalink to comment#

    Just funny adding alpha as ie support on a selector ie does not support…
    But combining padding and width in one declaration is even better.

    Well, I should make a php book too therefore where can I download this syntax highlighter?

  39. good post really it is for babies, by the way i founded this website web-trickswith some css content.

  40. cheryl
    Permalink to comment#

    oh, i love your review!!
    but seriously: what’s wrong about wooden toys for babies…?!

  41. Permalink to comment#

    I bet this post is gonna boost their sales a little bit!

  42. Omg! really, ha ha. Super funny, but really who should use it ?

  43. Permalink to comment#

    Love the review! And, Siddharth, to your point – I think it would have been just as cute a book if the CSS had been actually correct. To the poster who wants to do php for babies, I’d love to see it!

  44. Rick
    Permalink to comment#

    Must be crushing to have your hero rip apart your book. Brutal.

  45. Permalink to comment#

    Thanks for the great review, pics and the humor in it.
    Most folks get the humor, a few don’t. How to balance literal/live ready/accurate code with design and space concerns for a code based baby book?
    The debate rages on :-)

  46. Thumbist
    Permalink to comment#

    HTML learning for toddlers has hit ITunes! My First Book of Code is it
    “Super. Duper. Serious”?

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