Book Review: Brain Rules for Baby

4/05/2011 04:10:00 AM
Title: Brain Rules for Baby
Author: John Medina
On amazon for $16.46 (Kindle price is $14.81.)
See here.

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this book, but I liked it. I usually run like the wind from most parenting books - but this one caught my attention because it was written by a parent and a molecular biologist.

Um. Cool.

It appears that Medina wrote this book based on his experience AND biology and clinical research. He sites various studies, and argues for and against both sides. I like that.

I didn't find myself feeling defensive when I read the book. Conversely, I thought, "Hmmm... ah yes... that does make sense."

More than a few items resonated with me and I have a feeling I'll re-read this book.

Social relationships matter.
"...every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women. We push them right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other."
(Can I get an amen on that?)
"The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships with other people." 
(I couldn't agree more. Truly.)

Stay at home Moms.
"A typical stay-at-home mom works 94.4 hours per week. If she were paid for her efforts, she would earn about $117,000 per year. (This is a calculation of hourly compensation and time spent per tast for the 10 job titles moms typically perform in American households, including housekeeper, van driver, day-care provider, staff psychologist and chief executive officer.)"
(SAHMs are incredible.)

"The time you will actually spend with your kids is breathtakingly short."
(Heavy sigh. It's far too true.)

Watch what you say. And what you do.
"Children have never been good at listening to their parents, but they have never failed to imitate them."
The basic building block.
"Empathy not only matters, it is the foundation of effective parenting."
Where to start with that newborn.
"There are four nutrients you will want in your behavioral formula, adjust them as your baby gets older: breast-feeding, talking to your baby, guided play and praising effort rather than accomplishment. Brain research tells us there are also several toxins: pushing your child to perform tasks his brain is not developmentally read to take on; stressing her to the point of a psychological state termed "learned helplessness"; and, for the under-2 set, television."
(Yep, I gasped about the TV thing, too. But he goes on to say that we're HUMAN and he gets it that sometimes our little ones and us need a break.)

The bountiful benefits of the boob.
"If Americans knew what breast milk can do for the brains of its youngest citizens, lactating mothers across the nation would be enshrined, not embarrassed. Though the topic is much debated, there's little controversy about it in the scientific community. Breast milk is the nutritional equivalent of a magic bullet for a developing baby. It has important salts and even more important vitamins. Its immune-friendly properties prevent ear, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. And in a result that surprised just about everybody, studies around the world confirmed that breast-feeding, in short, makes babies smarter."
Oh. And I love this.
"Write this across your heart before your child comes into the world: Parenting is not a race."
(He goes on to say, don't compare your kids to others. It ain't worth it. AMEN?)

Nice people have friends. Mean people don't.
"Individuals who are thoughtful, kind, sensitive, outward focused, accommodating, and forgiving have deeper, more lasting friendships -- and lower divorce rates -- than people who are moody, impulsive, rude, self-centered, inflexible and vindictive."
Your child's emotions matter.
"How you deal with the emotional lives of your children -- your ability to detect, react to, promote, and provide instruction about emotional regulation -- has the greatest predictive power over your baby's future happiness."
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
"In the late 1980s, researchers were somewhat startled to find that when parents paid too much attention to their kids cues - responding to every gurgle, burp, and cough - the kids actually became less securely attached. Children (like anybody) didn't take too well to being smothered. The stifling seemed to interfere with emotional self-regulation, messing with a natural need for space and independence."
(LOVED reading this.)

Reward effort, not intellect.
"Say, 'Wow, you really worked hard! Get into the habit of rewarding the intellectual exertion your child puts into a given task rather than his or her native intellectual resources."
(This intrigued me. The idea behind this is that if you praise EFFORT, your child will continue to work hard and put forth more effort when they fail at something. If you're merely praising intellect - when they fail, they could possibly be disillusioned with their abilities and not so apt to try harder again. Instead, they could think, "What? I'm not smart enough? I'm done." But if they're used to being praised for their effort, they'll be more resilient and try and try again and again.

Hey. It's worth a try.)


I could go on and on  -- I really liked this book.

From parents who deal with conflicts and issues as teachable moments, to how children deal best with punishment - this book was a thought-provoking resource. It appears that rules are good. Corporal punishment - not effective. Empathy is king, along with consistency and follow-through.

And most importantly?

No parent is perfect.


Note: I didn't get paid for this.


  1. Thanks for the review! Sounds like a good read. I love the part about parenting not being a race. Amen!

  2. i don't even have kids yet, but i would really love to read this book as it sounds fascinating. i kept thinking "i wonder if this would be good to read BEFORE you have kids" - kind of like getting some idea of a game plan in order?

  3. I like what it says about breastfeeding mothers! I won't be a mother until August, but I've already gotten slack for my choice to breastfeed.

  4. Great review! Thanks for sharing! (We are IN FACT a source of strenght, aren't we?!)

  5. Oh, another one to add to my list!! Thanks!


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