Information About Baby And I
Baby and I is an exceptional example of Victorian England's nursery rhymes' tendency to reflect the general public's combination of fear and fascination with atrocities and cannibalism.
Learn more about Victorian's fear of atrocities in Eliot Jesmond's article Here comes the Bogeyman.
Based on a widespread contemporary fear that poor country folk coming to live in cities may well end up baked into pies (frequently referred to throughout literature of the time, including by Charles Dickens near the end of chapter six of his novel 'Martin Chuzzlewit'), this skipping song was often heard being sung by nineteenth century Liverpool children.
Today mostly used in conjunction with hand/ finger games, Baby and I speaks of an individual and his/ her baby being baked in a pie, complete with wonderful hot gravy. Their poverty is referred to by the line about not having anything to pay the baker. Luckily, singer and baby escape being eaten by escaping from the pot.
One of the first instances of Baby and I appearing in printed form is in the 1844 edition of 'Nursery Rhymes of England: Obtained Principally from Oral Tradition'. This edition, compiled by Shakespearean scholar and collector of English fairy tales and nursery rhymes, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps (1820 - 1889), lists the song under its 'Games' classification. In a later edition (1846), Halliwell-Phillips proceeded to list this nursery rhyme under the class of 'Rarities'. How it originally came about, or who first wrote it, appears to have been lost in the mists of time.