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The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child's First Four Years Paperback – April 5, 2016
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"Clear, comprehensive, and resolutely evidence-based, The Informed Parent is a fabulous resource for science-minded parents. Haelle and Willingham have tirelessly compiled the evidence on so many questions that cause parents to worry and wonder, and with all of this science at their fingertips, they'll be able to make confident and informed choices for their families. From pre-conception to preschool, you'll find yourself returning to this book again and again."
--Alice Callahan, PhD, author of The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby's First Year
"The Informed Parent is a beacon of science-based sanity for new parents caught in a blizzard of dubious child rearing advice. Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham are sure-handed guides, distilling the most up-to-date, reliable research into sensible advice that neither patronizes nor terrorizes. Circumcision? Television? Nipple confusion? Relax, Tara and Emily have got you covered."
--Dan Fagin, Director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at NYU, and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation
“In The Informed Parent, Emily Willingham and Tara Haelle, two widely respected science writers (and parents), explore key questions about child health, beginning with fetal development and continuing into toddlerhood. The result is engaging, conversational, deeply researched, and smart, a book that should be considered a necessary resource for all 21st century parents.”
--Deborah Blum, Director of the Knight Science Journalism Program, MIT, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
"Finally! An amazing, informed, evidence-based tour through the most common questions and concerns of parenthood that I can recommend without hesitation. A must for any science minded new parent, or for anyone who thinks Google doesn’t replace expertly curated information."
--Yoni Freedhoff, MD, Assistant Professor, Family Medicine, University of Ottawa and creator of the Weighty Matters blog
"Parents in the internet age have to navigate their way through a maze of confusing information and misinformation. Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham are the perfect guides to what's fact and fiction when it comes to the science of parenting."
--Seth Mnookin, Associate Director of MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing, and author of The Panic Virus
"Science-based. Judgment free. A perfect guide for evidence-based parenting!"
--Ari Brown, MD, pediatrician and author of Baby 411 book series
"In The Informed Parent, journalists Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham manage to answer everything a parent could possibly be worried about during pregnancy, birth, infancy, and toddlerhood. What makes this book different from every other book on this subject (and there are many) is that the authors take on not only the science of what concerns us, but encourage us to think along with them—giving us the tools to answer other questions in the future. It was like reading the answer sheet before the test."
--Paul Offit, MD, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
"With The Informed Parent, Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham have gifted today’s neurotic parents with fuel - and ultimately antidote - for their obsessive researching. Unlike most parenting books, the authors never preach, condone or praise. Instead, they report the science on all possible parenting controversies in a lay-friendly (and often pithy) style, allowing the reader to come to her/his own conclusions. Well-written, impeccably researched, and brilliantly suited for millennial parents, The Informed Parent should be on the top of everyone’s baby shower list."
--Suzanne Barston, the "Fearless Formula Feeder" and author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't
“Is it confirmation bias to say that anyone who decides to look at scientific facts instead of hectoring parents is doing the world a service? If so, consider my opinion biased: This book will help a lot of folks!”
--Lenore Skenazy, founder of the book, blog and movement Free-Range Kids
"As a mom, I can confidently say that The Informed Parent will be a lifesaver for all moms and dads going through the anxiety and excitement of raising a young child. From autism to organic food, the authors demystify modern parents’ most prevalent fears for the first four years, and effectively arm them with a critical thinking cap for years to come. If you’re tired of the mommy (and daddy) wars, or simply need help separating the credible wheat from the misinformation chaff on the internet, look no further."
--Kavin Senapathy, science advocate and author of The Fear Babe
“Accessible and informative…For anyone headed into parenthood, this is a must-read, as it answers so many questions new parents are bound to ask.”
"The book shines with clear explanations of the reasoning behind common hospital practices such as labor induction, vitamin K shots, and taking Apgar scores, including up-to-date summaries of the sometimes overwhelming-data surrounding giving birth and infant care choices. Subjects of controversy, such as allergies and sleep training, receive in-depth, scientifically minded treatment."
About the Author
Tara Haelle writes about parenting, health, and science for NPR, Forbes, Washington Post, and other national publications. Emily Willingham, PhD, is a science journalist and Forbes contributor whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Discover, and other national publications.
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If there was one improvement I would have suggested, I feel that the authors could have encouraged greater wariness regarding home birth. As someone whose home birth midwife committed negligence, I wish that more detail had been given in terms of properly vetting care providers. However it is one area of disagreement in an otherwise excellent book.
There are innumerable myths and tropes about raising children. My mother used to tell me to not go into the pool until 30 minutes (or some random number) after I ate; and she always told me I'd catch the flu or a cold if I didn't put on a jacket during winter. Of course, neither are science based, and neither are "facts."
But those were innocuous little myths. I don't like being all that cold, so putting on a coat isn't the worst thing ever.
Unfortunately, some myths about parenting and raising children are dangerous. The whole "vaccines cause XYZ" myths that have infected the internet have caused some drops in vaccination, especially amongst those who should know better. And this is where this book becomes a valuable tool for "science based parenting."
Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham are notable science authors who have focused on topics that are important today. Dr. Willingham has written extensively about autism, I don't think I'm exaggerating to say that she is one of the top science journalist with respect to autism and autism related issues. Ms. Haelle writes extensively about parenting issues, from vaccinations to breast feeding.
Both use extensive citations and scientific knowledge in their writing. What they write often represents the best thinking in a field. Not that I advocate for the Argument from Authority, but when an authority uses real scientific evidence, the authority becomes the expert.
The Informed Parent continues their writing tradition. Yes, the book is "science-y." But it is my opinion that science should not be scary. It should do what it's supposed to do, answer questions through a logical manner about our natural universe. Or how we raise our children.
Haelle and Willingham jump right into the fray with their first chapter, basically on what a mother needs to do for her developing fetus. For example, Vitamin D is all the rage in the supplement world. But, generally there isn't an issue with vitamin D levels in the developed world. And, high quality medical research has shown us that vitamin D supplementation has no effect on maternal or newborn outcomes.
I could spend two hours writing about every topic they covered, but it is literally from A to Z on the list of issues. I think you could read this book cover to cover and use it as a resource, or just use it as a well sourced and written encyclopedia of issues regarding pregnancy, birth and raising the child.
As a vaccine advocate, my favorite part of the book is all about vaccines. They look at schedules, rumors, history, myths, science, and just about any consideration one might have about vaccines. They do it in a Q&A format partially, so you can read, without all of the yelling and screaming on the internet, the scientific facts about vaccines.
This is one of the best books about parenting. I remember my wife reading the semi-official manual of pregnancy, "What to Expect when you're Expecting." If this book were available back then, I would have given her this one too. Because we had a short, but intense, set of arguments regarding vaccinating our daughters, and I lacked a lot of information that I have now, especially from a book like this one. Yeah, our daughters are fully vaccinated.
I generally don't review books, because I usually read them months after they came out, and no one wants to read a six month old review. But in this case, I was excited about this book. I'm glad I got to read it. And if you're expecting or have an infant, get this book. It can help you relax and do the right things.