What's the right adjective to use when referring to someone in their infancy?

Suppose I've just watched a video recording of something Jack did when he was a newborn.

Which adjective should I use in case I wanted to say something like:

I've just watched a video of a baby/newborn/little Jack.

Also, should I use the article 'a' as in the example above?

  • 1
    He is specific, so, no. A video of baby Jack. A video of a baby Jack would mean you don't know him.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 22, 2022 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


Word choice depends on the connotation you want. "Little" is the least specific ("little Jack" might be a 6- or 10-year-old); "baby" is more specific (any child too young to walk); and "newborn" most narrowly specifies a child only a few months old.

The article "a" in this usage is a tricky case. You can avoid it with a different wording: "I've just watched a video of Jack as a baby." We do use "a" along with a describer in this kind of construction, but this example doesn't seem like the most natural way to. It's often used like this:

Here's a picture of a very wet Jack, when he fell in the pond.

Here we see "a" being used as if this is a "different kind of Jack," a version of Jack. This use often includes an intensifier, like "very" here. "A picture of a wet Jack" would be a slightly less likely usage.

So in the baby-video example, "a video of a baby Jack" might be used, but is a bit unlikely. Something like "a video of a teeny-weeny newborn Jack" might be more likely.

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