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The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby's First Year Paperback – Illustrated, September 1, 2015
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"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."(The Pediatric Insider)
"[Callahan] takes a compassionate, non-preachy approach with a goal of not telling the reader what to do but rather how to seek wise advice and make smart decisionsand to enjoy having a baby, which is what it is all about..."(Live Science)
"This is science-based medicine writing at its best. Callahan doesn’t cherry-pick. She knows how to evaluate the entire body of research and put it into perspective along with practical parenting considerations. She enhances her message with a personal touch, including anecdotes about her own experiences as a new mother and about the experiences of her friends and family. If I had three thumbs, I would give this book a 3-thumbs-up recommendation."(Harriet Hall, MD Science-Based Medicine)
"... in Science of Mom, Alice Callahan, PhD combines the critical eye of a scientist with the heart of a mother to create a helpful resource for all people interested in evidence based infant care and parenting."(Science & Sensibility (Lamaze International))
"... a timely and necessary book for parents... It will help both moms and dads work together to choose the right parenting methods for them and give them a research-based approach to raising a child."(Patheos)
"... a fresh and enlightening approach... I'd highly recommend this book to any mom expecting her first child or her fourth."(Uncommon Motherhood)
"... a solid resource for any new parent or parent to be. Callahan does the work of sorting through the science of baby’s first year, so you don’t have to."(Raise Healthy Eaters)
"[Callahan's] compassion and empathy for the difficulties of parenting shine through in every chapter, from breastfeeding to vaccines to feeding to sleeping."(Forbes)
"[The Science of Mom] should be required reading for all new parents... She calms fears and provides parents with real facts. She doesn’t make the decisions for you, but she makes it a lot easier to make sound decisions."(MomSense)
"A book long-overdue in the parenting literature."(Momma Data)
The Science of Mom blogger makes sense of research studies for new mothers.
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1421417324
- ISBN-13 : 978-1421417325
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.72 x 9 inches
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Publisher : Johns Hopkins University Press; Illustrated Edition (September 1, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #91,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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“Show me the science.”
In her new book Science of Mom, inspired by her blog of the same title, Alice Green Callahan gives us an expert look at a variety of common parenting questions – the ones we all get a little tense about, like breastfeeding, infant sleep, and vaccinations. Callahan has a PhD in nutrition, and is well-versed in the ways of research. In each chapter of her book, Callahan provides an in-depth, nuanced exploration of the topic at hand. She tells us what research is out there, who did the research, how they did it, and precisely what they found.
What she doesn’t do is offer polished, packaged takeaways. If you want to know what the research says about breastfeeding vs. formula, for example, be prepared to read through a detailed discussion: the history of breastmilk substitutes, an explanation of the nutritional makeup of modern formula, and the numerous research challenges of how to compare breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. Only then does Callahan explain both what the scientific community can tell us about the differences, and what it can’t.
(Here and elsewhere throughout this review, I was tempted to give you a juicy quotation from the book. Ultimately, I decided it would be an injustice to Callahan for me to do so! The whole point is that a sentence or two just can’t give you the information you need. Reading the whole book is worth it.)
I had a personal interest in reading Callahan’s book, because I’ve followed her blog for several years. What she wrote on her blog about infant sleep was a huge help to me as we overcame sleep difficulties with my oldest child, and I was pleased to see she had even more to say about it in the book. Other topics were newer to me, and some of the information has actually caused me to consider changes in the way I parent. Having read Science of Mom, I’m now planning to talk to my OB about delayed cord clamping; and Callahan’s explanation of children’s nutritional needs is making me reconsider our mostly-vegetarian diet, at least for the kids.
Callahan is disciplined about only giving recommendations when the science is absolutely clear. She takes pains to show how much flexibility and variation there can be in parenting issues; rather than dictating exactly how to parent effectively, what science can do is disabuse us of the notion that there’s only one right way. Callahan tells us what the research says, and leaves us to make our own decisions. When the scientific consensus really is clear, she explains why, as thoroughly as possible.
One area she discusses where the research is clear is vaccines. The short answer: they’re safe. But Callahan doesn’t stop there. She includes five different appendices addressing common concerns about vaccines, introducing us to terms such as “antigen load” to clarify what questions we really ought to be asking. I was blown away by the breadth and depth of this particular discussion.
I also deeply appreciated Callahan’s take on attachment parenting. She takes a look at various practices popular among attachment parents, such as bedsharing and long-term breastfeeding, and while she doesn’t condemn them, she often finds the scientific support for these practices to be less than robust. But it’s clear that in her heart, she desires “attachment” with her children as much as the next mom. For Callahan, the keyword that the research points to is responsiveness. In breastfeeding, in helping a baby sleep, in feeding a toddler, Callahan details how an attentive response to a baby’s behavior has been shown to be an effective and relationship-bolstering strategy. I found her theme of responsiveness to be a fresh and enlightening approach.
Finally, in addition to the abundance of research she presents to us, Callahan empowers us to analyze further information ourselves; her first chapter includes a “crash course” in research methodology and explains the differences between systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, and observational studies. She points to some trustworthy sources that we can look to the next time we see a headline proclaiming “Scientists Discover That Breastfeeding Does X Y and Z.”
I’d highly recommend this book to any mom expecting her first child … or her fourth. I’m still thinking through a lot of what I read in the book, and I plan to re-read parts of it before the new baby comes along. Callahan’s position, outside the “attachment” camp, outside the “Babywise” camp, is truly new ground, and I would encourage moms from any camp to give it a look.
I love the balance of solid empiricism with gentle compassion. Here's a taste for how she handles the sometimes charged issue of sleep training:
"Whatever you do, do it mindfully, lovingly, and respectfully. And then, please, don’t feel guilty about your choice. If you feel judged by others, remember that they don’t live in your house at night, and they don’t care for your child. You do, and you are capable of doing the right thing for your child."
If you're deciding between this book and " The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child's First Four Years " I'd stick with this one. Science of Mom covers fewer topics, but provides much greater depth.
This book is balanced, non-judgmental, compassionate, and incredibly informative (I honestly am in shock at how much I learned b/c I thought I'd read it all by now!). It's not exhaustive but it covers all the big questions that there's a lot of conflicting (read: not always reliable) advice floating around about on the internet (breastfeeding vs. formula, where baby should sleep, when/how to start solids and what foods to feed, vaccines, etc.), and it covers them all with a fair, honest, and fact-based approach that I really, really appreciated.
In short, if you read only one parenting book, this should be it! And if, like me, you read them all, you will really appreciate how ridiculously well-researched and fact-focused this book is. I really can't recommend it enough!
Many books are written by authors citing data and telling a story, but so few are like this one. The author strives to summarize the state of scientific consensus, and including the counter-opinions/data. She clearly shows some of her own biases, but imo does a solid job of making them plain and letting the reader judge for themselves.
Thanks so much for writing this. It was a flashlight in the great dark as I head, far too blind, into parenthood.