“The Science of Mom” – a great new book for parents

The Pediatric Insider

© 2015 Roy Benaroch, MD

New parents have access to plenty of information. Websites, Facebook pages, blogs, tons of stuff, all ready to answer any question. The problem is that many answers are just plain wrong. Not just “your-opinion, my-opinion” wrong, but flat out stinking lies of wrongness, repeated over and over, until one has to figure, hey, I saw that somewhere. I guess it’s true.

You don’t have to guess. If you want reliable and honest information, let me suggest a new resource: a book by Alice Callahan, PhD, called The Science of Mom: A Research-based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year. Dr. Callahan’s blog has been a favorite of mine, with solid, well-referenced, and very readable articles on parenting topics.

Her new book is organized into chapters covering many “hot topics” concerning a baby’s first year. There’s an introductory chapter that concisely explains how science can turn you into a better parent, and how to tell good science from bad. Other chapters cover topics both expected (vaccines, breastfeeding, sleep training) and unique (how newborns learn and interact with the world.) The breastfeeding chapter did a particularly good job presenting this nuanced subject – in fact, the science says more than just “breast is best.” Her chapters on sleep training and sleep safety were also very good, though I would have been even more direct about SIDS prevention. Still, that’s a style thing—she’s got the science down, solid.

Dr. Callahan isn’t bossy, and isn’t out to tell you what she thinks. Her book tells you what the science says, and explains how we know what we know, and what things we still need to learn more about. There’s humility and warmth, here, which I think parents of newborns will find reassuring. There are many “controversies” that you really don’t need to worry about.

This book is great for parents of newborns and babies, and I think it would make a very good gift for expecting couples. In the spirit of full disclosure, I got my copy for free (thanks!), though I’m planning to donate it tomorrow to my local little free library. Stop by Womack near ChamDun to grab my copy, or get it from Amazon or whatever. It’s good.

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4 Comments on ““The Science of Mom” – a great new book for parents”

  1. Cyndy Carbone Says:

    Hi Dr. Roy,

    This new book sounds very interesting.

    I am on a panel here in NH on Safe sleeping at the National AWHONN conferece. I would be interested in her sleep training for infants. Does she have any earth shattering new ideas? The conference is Sept. 21st. Have you seen the new Halo Bassinest? It is on an adjustable pole & swivels over the parents bed. I have not see this in the home yet. At Babies R Us last night, they had 1 conventional bassinet, 1 co-sleeper & about 8 Rock N’ Play Sleepers on display. They said the Halo bassinest is new but I do see comments from 2014. It is a flat firm mattress!! It runs pretty high at $199.99 -$249.99 vs. $59.99 for the Rock N’ Play Sleeper. Wish the manufacturers would get more on board with AAP.

    Thanks for all your great info.!



  2. wzrd1 Says:

    Hi, Doc! I’m curious on how well colic was covered in the book.
    Far too many books, professionals and websites focus on a single favorite cause, ignoring things like food sensitivity, difficult colonization of the gut, reflux, etc.

    Nature should really be taken to task, for children are designed horribly. Incapable of communication beyond crying, no diagnostic panel to read out. 😉


  3. Dr. Roy Says:

    wzrd, I don’t recall how colic was covered– and I donated the book away already (I read and wrote the blog post several weeks ago.)

    FWIW I think the basic problem in “colic” research is that it’s all based on a dated operational definition that boils down to “too much crying.” That lumps many disparate issues together. A baby who cries only from 7-9 PM every night is different from a baby who cries after every meal, and those babies are different from a baby whose mom has post partum depression and a baby who cries every time she spits up. The history will often (not always) tell you the cause of crying if you listen.


  4. wzrd1 Says:

    Indeed, the term is wide in scope, with dozens of potential issues causing the baby to cry.
    With our eldest granddaughter, a cause for her distress was never ascertained, but she quieted when held with a hand over her abdomen and the pressure generated by her weight on the abdomen. Could’ve been gas, food sensitivity that faded over time, intestinal colonization or the stock market news.
    The second grandchild was similar with crying, eventually diagnosed by the pediatrician as reflux and he responded well to a low dose H2 blocker.
    That means little for every child that cries incessantly or nearly incessantly though, for the causes are as broad as the spectrum. But, that’s why we have pediatricians, to tell when the cry is from illness or environmental causes.
    With “doctor” mom and dad to commiserate with the sleepless parents, “really, I know it *feels* like a year without a good night’s sleep, but give it a few months, you’ll not realize where you got all that extra time from” and leaving the medicine to the physician.


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