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The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby's First Year

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It seems like every time a new mother turns on her computer, radio, or television, she is greeted with news of yet another scientific study about infancy. Ignoring good information isn’t the right course, but just how does one tell the difference between solid studies, preliminary results, and snake oil?

In this friendly guide through the science of infancy, Science of Mom blogger and PhD scientist Alice Callahan explains how non-scientist mothers can learn the difference between hype and evidence. Readers of Alice’s blog have come to trust her balanced approach, which explains the science that lies behind headlines. The Science of Mom is a fascinating, eye-opening, and extremely informative exploration of the topics that generate discussion and debate in the media and among parents. From breastfeeding to vaccines to sleep, Alice’s advice will help you make smart choices so that you can relax and enjoy your baby.

304 pages, Paperback

First published August 3, 2015

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About the author

Alice Callahan

3 books23 followers
I am a former research scientist, and now an author, freelance writer, and a college instructor. My first book, The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby's First Year, was published by Johns Hopkins Press in August 2015. I've updated the book for a second edition, to be released fall 2021.

I'm mother to Cee (born in 2010) and BabyM (born in 2014). I live and work in Eugene, Oregon.

I completed my PhD in Nutritional Biology at the University of California, Davis, in 2008 and then spent 2+ years studying fetal physiology as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Arizona. After the birth of my daughter in 2010, I decided to leave the world of academic science, trading it for more time with my daughter and the opportunity to write. Without a lab bench and experiments to run, I found myself satisfying my curiosity by diving into the scientific literature on parenting topics, sorting through the science and trying to write coherent stories about how science informs parenthood. I started with a blog, but I found so much fascinating material and so many curious readers that I soon turned my attention to writing a book: The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, first published in 2015 by Johns Hopkins University Press.

I am not selling anything, and I have no agenda or particular parenting philosophy to promote. I’m just curious, and my scientific training gives me the skill set to evaluate the science, to see its strengths and flaws, and to give my honest interpretation of how it applies to our parenting questions.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 131 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly.
269 reviews16 followers
August 20, 2015
Your baby needs iron-rich foods! Like meat and egg yolks!

Full review:

Why aren't there more books like this one? I discovered Expecting Better: How to Fight the Pregnancy Establishment with Facts fairly late in pregnancy, and similar to that book, this one is written by someone with a background in science who was frustrated by the lack of good research-based advice about infant care. Furthermore, the research-based advice out there often cherry-picks among studies, or is based on a single study in a field where more research is necessary, and as a result, is not very reliable. Author Alice Callahan went straight to the studies and based her conclusions on the studies deemed most reliable - those with big sample sizes, good controls, etc. She also openly acknowledges areas where the research is incomplete or inconclusive. It's a huge breath of fresh air.

The book has chapters on vitamin K and eye drops for newborns, sleep, vaccines, breastfeeding, and solid foods, among others. If your baby is older than 6 months, you've probably already handled most of the decisions discussed in the book, but you might still find it very interesting (and it's a quick and easy read).

For me, the most interesting chapters were those about solid foods. The other stuff I had mostly figured out through a discerning read of everything ever written on the internet (ha ha), but I learned a lot from the chapters on solids, and would probably do some things differently if I were starting my baby on solids again. I'm also going to make some changes now, as we only recently started. For one thing, it seems like babies in developed countries like the US can safely start solids any time between 4-6 months, and there may be advantages to starting earlier if your baby shows signs of readiness (which mine did... I'd probably start at 5 months, about 3 weeks earlier than we actually did).

I am also going to shift the emphasis to iron and zinc-rich foods, especially egg yolks and red meat, and I'm going to make sure she gets a serving of fortified cereal daily. I'm actually a little shocked that no one (and nothing I read) emphasized the critical need for iron in breastfed babies starting around 6 months. Some sources mentioned iron, but in a way that allowed me to think, "Yup, we all need iron," and push a few green veggies -- when the need is MUCH greater than that and green veggies are NOT the best source (especially when consumed with yoghurt, which my baby loves but isn't a great idea as a complement to iron-rich foods, since the calcium can inhibit iron absorption).

Anyway, I'm not going to rewrite the book here -- but I highly recommend it to new and expecting parents. And (hint), I really hope she writes another book addressing even more issues and decisions that we have to make.
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,176 reviews123 followers
August 25, 2015
Callahan dives right into the most hot-button areas of parenting, from vaccinations to breastfeeding to co-sleeping, and distills the available evidence from research studies into a readable format. Where the research is clear, she takes a strong stance; where it is mixed, she explains benefits and risk factors and leaves the reader to decide. She does a great job of continually reminding the reader that different families do different things with just as much success, and that no research studies will ever be perfectly crafted to prescribe exactly what your child needs.

My nitpicks with the book are relatively small. Her personal examples are primarily from her own life, her friends and family, and her blog readers, so they're fairly limited. I would have liked to see at least a passing reference to adoptive moms like myself, particularly in the section on breastfeeding, and the information related to formula feeding in other chapters (e.g., cosleeping, solid foods) was weak and had an offhand tone, like, "...and formula feeders would do something similar but also different." I was disappointed on the limited amount of research presented related to baby-led weaning; she seemed generally pretty dismissive of it, but provided minimal evidence to back up that attitude.

Being an evidence-minded person myself who is constantly reading parenting research, I didn't find a ton that was new to me in this book, but I felt that it was a solid and well-written introduction to the aspects of raising an infant for which parents are most likely to encounter contradictory, incendiary, and weakly supported advice if they turn to the Internet at large for information. I would definitely recommend this for any new parent or parent-to-be overwhelmed by the amount of information out there.
Profile Image for Samantha.
Author 6 books453 followers
November 30, 2015
Over the past three years I've read pretty much every popular parenting book on the market, and I just finished this one (albeit a little late given that my son just turned one) and I am SO BUMMED that it wasn't available last year because it would have saved me SO MANY hours of googling trying to find unbiased, evidence-based parenting advice, as well as relieved a lot of anxiety/guilt about our choices as parents, and likely saved us from making a few well-intentioned mistakes (hello, iron deficiency!).

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!
Profile Image for Kim.
347 reviews6 followers
September 6, 2015
As a pediatrician in solo rural practice for 25 years I am always on the lookout for information that will make what I read about in evidence based scientific literature approachable, digestible, and understandable to the parents of my patients. The Science of Mom does this well. It is for the intellectually curious families that , as smart as they are might be, find the amount of information found on the Internet on some hot topics that they will have to make decisions on (sooner rather than later ) during their baby's first minutes of life through the first birthday daunting.
Dr Callahan echoes the anticipatory guidance I give my patients' families and is totally in line with my read of the current medical literature and standard of pediatric care in the USA in 2015.
Profile Image for Lauren Price.
121 reviews
November 26, 2017
If you read one parenting book, this should be it. all parenting books are rife with bias, but this one is extremely open about what the biases are and really tries to be open, honest, and admit that no information or recommendation is perfect. for example, i am a strong believer in bottle feeding my baby and although the author is clearly biased to believe in breast feeding, she still presents the actual data and research in such a way that a parent can clearly make their own informed choices instead of just shaming. the beginning is a bit dry but you SHOULD read it because it goes through a brief but good explanation of how data is collected, what science can and cannot show, anx how the same study can be interpreted different ways. i wish all parenting books were this transparent!
Profile Image for Lisa.
875 reviews3 followers
February 20, 2018
I love this book. Callahan does lit reviews about parenting topics, presents what the data says, does a bit of explaining, and then talks about what she decided to do. Some of it I just skipped over because it had already happened / I didn't have a choice (cord clamping), or I had already made a decision (vaccines), but some of it is extremely useful, like the nutrition science. I wish I had known about nutritional needs in babies before I started feeding my first! I'm definitely going to make some changes in the way I approach solids.

I'll be keeping this book on hand for a bit for reference. But, it probably won't be relevant longer than about 9 months, at which point I will pass it on to a newer mom.
Profile Image for Sarah Guldenbrein.
233 reviews7 followers
June 23, 2021
Yes I read this, yes I'm embarrassed by it, but I'm also extremely motivated by my Goodreads challenge, so not going to miss a chance to add a book.

Rather a lot of this was dedicated to arguing for the science of vaccines. Go Alice, and apparently we need this kind of advocacy these days, but I believe in vaccines so could comfortably skip a bunch of material.

Quite a bit of overlap with Emily Oster's Cribsheet. I think one could read either and not necessarily need to read both, but they're equally readable, imo.

My biggest takeaway was that apparently you have to worry about iron and zinc when weaning. Okay. Very good then.
Profile Image for Ashley.
101 reviews35 followers
February 9, 2017
A lot of parenting books want to shame you. Like, they DISCREET shame you, but you're still sitting there reading along, like, "I don't even CARE that my kid isn't sleeping through the night, so why do I suddenly feel like a monster for this very fact?"

Thank the good Lord and cupcakes, this book doesn't do that.

It looks massive upon first glance, but the actual book itself is a pretty quick read; and faster, even, if you're a giant nerd like me & joyously soak up the info, page after page. I loved that it read completely unbiased, regardless of what side of the traditional "parent battles" you side on. It's friendly, it's relatable, and it's a book I wish I'd stumbled upon when my little dude was brand-newer.
Profile Image for Johny.
54 reviews11 followers
July 30, 2017
My wife and I (expecting parents) were so glad that we laid our hands on this book. The provides a sort of synthesis of research literature on the birthing and parenting process for infants. I really enjoyed the way the author provides a well-rounded review of studies pertaining to each area of child birth and growth.
Below are some of our key takeaways from the book (please bear in mind that the author does not always recommend one method over the other, so this is our takeaway from the book, and others may disagree).

1. Don't cut the umbilical cord until it stops pulsating; or wait for at least until 60 seconds have passed.
2. Child should be given Vitamin K shot (intramuscular), preferably during breast feeding stage.
3. Eye drops (Erythromycin) should be administered.
4. Baby should be allowed to breast crawl immediately after birth. Baby can be bathed/cleaned after he feeds and is ready for a nap.
5. Preferable if mothers don't bathe for 24 hours, so baby can use senses such as smell to feed.
6. Don't overstimulate your baby after it's born. Follow the baby's lead; be sensitive and caring.
7. Talk to your baby regularly and touch gently.
8. Breast milk is best but formula is good too.
9. No bed sharing/co-sleeping all night. Take extreme care during the first four months to avoid SIDS.
10. No feeding on chair or couch at night.
11. Beware of pillows and blankets when baby is in bed. Place baby in crib after feeding.
12. Room sharing recommended up to 6 months.
13. No stuff toys in crib.
14. Don't cover baby's head. Recommended house temperature (if possible) - 67 to 79 F
Baby Sleep:
15. Newborn babies sleep 16 to 18 hours of the day
16. Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to breastfeed frequently during the first few weeks of life.
17. At night, keep house lights dim and environment quiet.
18. During day, let baby be part of the activity of the house. Keep baby in a well-lit room during the day.
19. Create a soothing ritual
20. Put baby in bed while he is sleepy but awake. You can quietly soothe the baby by sitting next to him and talking to him, patting him, etc. Offer support to the baby, but don't jump in to take over every time the baby cries.
21. When baby wakes in the night, wait a few minutes before responding.
22. Offer baby a lovey.
23. Every baby is different and responds differently, observe your baby to see what works best for him.
24. Be consistent with sleep training

25. Vaccinate baby ON SCHEDULE!

26. Don't feed baby cow's milk until 1 year old
27. Start solids between 4 to 6 months. (rice, barley, oats, meat, veg - all cooked and fruits)
28. A good indication on when to start solids is when your baby can sit up right with no neck support. Also, try to see how baby reacts to solid food, if it disagrees with him, try later.
28. Follow up breast feeding with solids such as wheat, eggs, peanut, tree nut, and fish
29. Introduce new foods one at a time, symptoms of allergy can be seen in a few hours such as swollen and/or itchy eyes and mouth, nasal congestion, diarrhea, vomiting.
30. Let baby decide how much he wants to eat. Don't force or cajole.
31. Choking risks:
- Always supervised feeding with baby sitting up right (until 4 years of age)
- No feeding in car
- Cut break down grapes, pop corn, hard candy, etc.
- learn the difference between gagging and choking

Food to eat
32. Meat is good for your baby.
- cooked liver once or twice a week
- Feed cooked egg yolk/beef/clams/turkey/chicken/fish, etc. when they start solid foods every day
- at least 4 egg yolks a week, preferablyOmega 3 + DHA fortified eggs
- Can also include dairy products as snacks

33. Infant fortified cereal is also good
- cereals fortified with iron, zinc, vitamin C
- fortified cereals are a good substitute for meat when not available or traveling

34. Feed good sources of Vitamin C such as kiwi, citrus fruit, berries, pineapple, mango, etc.
35. Cereals, fruits and veggies are all good
36. Variety of food is good for your baby - sometimes baby may take 6 or 7 tries of a food to enjoy it.
37. Cook veggies are better than uncooked
38. AVOID HONEY up to 12 months
39. No need to give sugary drinks. If giving baby juice, mix it with water and give it in a cup.
40. No need to add salt to food until year 1.
41. Finally, try one food item at a time to see how your baby reacts, especially to see if your baby has any allergic reaction.
Profile Image for Meg.
249 reviews56 followers
March 30, 2016
Emily Oster's Expecting Better was probably my favourite pregnancy and parenting book I read while I was expecting, as it was a data-focused look at some of the most pressing pregnancy questions. After the birth of my daughter, I found myself wishing she had tackled the postpartum child-rearing phase as well. The amount of information available to new parents is overwhelming: cross-generational friends and family advice, countless books with varying degrees of expertise, pediatricians and family doctors, mommy boards, and good ol' Dr. Google. Not only is there a huge volume of information, but so much of it is, frankly, garbage.

Luckily I stumbled across Alice Callahan Science of Mom blog when looking for information on solid feeding (a topic which has some of the most conflicting information out there, which is hugely frustrating). That led me to her book, which is a great no-nonsense, rational, and evidence-based guide to some of the most prominent topics in infant care. Callahan not only sorts through the science on topics like infant feeding, sleep, and vaccination, but she also provides a guide on how to understand and seek out good science (which is so important in a culture that is decidedly lacking in scientific literary). I probably would have found the book more useful had I read it earlier (as my baby is already almost 6 months old and most of the topics deal with earlier infancy), but it was still an interesting and informative read. It confirmed a lot of the information I had already gleaned for myself, provided me with some more useful advice and interesting facts, and helped me feel confident in the decisions my husband and I have made as parents (as from the beginning we have tried to base our parenting decisions on evidence rather than anecdotes or fear-mongering).

Now I just have to hope that someone has written a science-based toddler book.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
124 reviews2 followers
March 21, 2019
If people saying I did this and I/my kids turned out fine makes you want to impale your ear drums on knitting needles, then this is the kind of book you'd want to guide you in parenting. It is data-based and seems faithful to the scientific method throughout. I wish I'd read it earlier in my child's life to have benefitted more from it (turns out there is no right order in which to introduce vegetables). I learned a lot and overall it's helped me relax about making parenting decision because for the vast majority of baby stuff, there's a lot of good practice with a lot of variance but very rarely is there a BEST, superior course of action. Except vaccines. There the science is very, very, very clear cut. Vaccinate your kids and stop free-loading off mine being vaccinated. Learning more about how effective and how safe they are made me enraged that there are people out there who don't. Vaccinate your kids.
Profile Image for Rita P.
186 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2022
My search for "scientifically-solid parenting books" continues, and I've found some useful information on this one as well.

I've especially liked the fact that the author starts with a quick introduction to the scientific method, empowering her readers with the tools to research and question everything themselves, instead of having to blindly trust her or other authors. She is also quite through on her presentation of data, studies and sources, which makes trusting the facts she presents that much easier. I particularly enjoyed the two final chapters on what to feed your baby, where the information was all relevant and presented succinctly.

However, and just like with other parenting books, I disliked the fact that all the tidbits are repeated way too many times (possibly to make them clear to the dumbest of lay readers). Callahan's choice of subjects were also hit and miss for me; for example, most stuff on the umbilical cord and eye goop could have easily been summarized under the same chapter, leaving space in the rest of the book for other interesting post-delivery subjects. And oh my, does the chapter on bed sharing go on and on, mostly because it is apparently such a controversial theme. Ugh. Having to go through a whole chapter near the end on the need for vaccination did not help, leaving me with a sour taste in the mouth - even if I understand this book is targeted towards a North-American audience, who apparently still thinks vaccinating their children causes autism. Oh well.

Here's the chapter titles, for those interested in knowing what this book is about:
1. Show Me the Science: A Crash Course in Evidence-Based Parenting
2. Cutting the Umbilical Cord: When Is the Right Time?
3. Of Injections and Eye Goop: Newborn Medical Procedures
4. For Once, Sit Back and Watch: How Newborns Explore, Communicate, and Connect
5. Milk and Motherhood: Breast Milk, Formula, and Feeding in the Real World
6. Where Should Your Baby Sleep? Sleep Safety and the Bed Sharing Debate
7. In Search of a Good Night’s Sleep (Or Something Like It)
8. Vaccines and Your Child: Making a Science-Based Decision
9. Getting Started with Solid Foods: When and How to Begin
10. Eat, Grow, and Learn: The Best Foods for Babies

Profile Image for Deirdre.
55 reviews1 follower
April 18, 2021
Great book on some of the big challenges of your babies first year. My personal favorite parts are the sections on whether or not to have your baby sleep in your bed or crip, how to train and set up a basic sleeping routine, and when to start feeding your baby solid foods including how to minimize the risk of food allergies.

I really liked how objective and considerate the author is in her discussions of the different topics. She doesn't just present the cold numbers from researches, but also takes into account the emotional side of each decision and humanizes the different positions. She is also not afraid to admit when science research just hasn't figured out (yet) what's best. This makes the sections where research is clear about what is best extra convincing. I also really liked that she had included other websites and books that offer more in depth information on specific topics.

My baby hasn't been born yet, but I feel much more confident to start on the adventure of raising him after reading this. The author is clear that each baby is different, but having this information I gained a good frame of reference to start making smarter decisions.
Profile Image for Amy Alice.
420 reviews14 followers
January 26, 2018
Can't recommend this enough. I loved Expecting Better because it was science based advice with a helping of "but here's the other side and why there is a debate". This is the same for the baby's first year. It gives you the foundation of science for all of the big things like feeding and sleeping, with other sciencey books to continue your reading, and still gives you room to layer on your own belief systems. A warning, where there isn't any science to support a trendy baby rearing technique, she doesn't really discuss it. So for sleep training, there is no (good) science (yet?) to back up the claims of distress that people usually use to disavow sleep training. So she tells you this and moves swiftly on to the science that does exist. I loved it but I can imagine that it might leave others wanting more. She does however give a list of further reading and as always with good science books, there are footnotes and references throughout.
210 reviews2 followers
March 26, 2018
This book had me from the very beginning. It starts off with a good overview of the scientific method, different types of scientific studies, and clear objectives for its evidence-based review of infant health topics throughout the rest of the book. On topics ranging from cord clamping and vaccines to feeding and sleep, the author then points back repeatedly to the opening chapter to demonstrate why the evidence for recommendation X is or isn't strong.

The book isn't terribly long and I highly recommend it for a succinct, evidence-based review of many decisions that will face new parents to be.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
347 reviews
April 5, 2019
I would recommend that parents ideally read this book before birth. Unfortunately, I came to it a bit a later so many of the chapters were no longer relevant to me. What I did read, though, was interesting and very well researched. The author has a PhD in Nutritional Biology, and the chapters on feeding were especially informative. The writing style is a little on the dry side but also compassionate and warm.
7 reviews
August 21, 2022
Parim raamat :)

Võtab väga hästi kokku suures koguses teadustööd ning erinevaid debatte. Pakub hea teaduspõhise lähenemise, hoides samal ajal esikohal oma beebiga kommunikeerimist ning beebit kuulavat kasvatust.

Teeb kokkuvõtteid American Association of Pediactrics-i ja muudest "autoriteetsetest" seisukohtadest ning seletab, miks üks või teine organisatsioon miskit soovitab.
Profile Image for Riley.
198 reviews
October 12, 2021
Good lit review of some hot button topics, a few of which were less settled then I had thought. Useful for transversing the mysteries of the various mom wars.
Profile Image for Chelsea Cox.
15 reviews
June 4, 2021
Excellent resource for a new or expecting parent who is overwhelmed by the amount of information out there!
Profile Image for Anya Dunham.
Author 1 book6 followers
January 2, 2022
Note: This review is for the 2nd edition of The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby's First Year.

If you are waiting for your baby to arrive or have a young baby and want to truly understand the science behind important parenting decisions - such as safe sleep, vaccines, feeding choices - this book is an amazing resource. Dr. Callahan has examined each question with scientific rigor (all studies are fully referenced), just the right depth, a truly non-judgmental approach, and warmth - a combination rarely found in parenting books.

If you, like me, already own the 1st edition and are on the fence whether you should buy this 2nd edition, I would say, go for it. The book has been updated throughout, with latest findings; I especially liked the new sections on microbiome and the updates on the science of safe sleep. I also enjoyed reading Alice's stories about Baby M's first year (Baby M has just arrived at the time 1st edition was published), and her reflections on her parenting journey.
Profile Image for gwayle.
661 reviews49 followers
February 16, 2019
It's rare that a book appeal to both sides of my brain equally. I delighted in Alice Callahan's open-minded, coolheaded look at the studies and statistics that illuminate some of the most controversial aspects of early child-rearing (feeding, sleeping, vaccinations). But I also appreciated her empathic, nonjudgemental framing of these issues: her attitude is that if something works for your family, isn't harming your child, and you've educated yourself about the risks involved, go forth and be merry. But if you are at your wits' end or on the fence, consider the following. Most of this material has been echoed in other books I've read, all but the last chapter on the introduction of solid foods, which was fascinating and mostly runs counter to the trends and recommendations du jour. A nice sequel to Emily Oster's Expecting Better.
Profile Image for Aneesa.
1,389 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2016
Great book. Learned at least six new things, and appreciated discussion of scientific process, how to distinguish meaningful research, and how evolution may have gotten us to a state requiring so much medical intervention. Will definitely refer to when baby starts solid foods. Frustrated by section on eye antibiotic ointment; I feel like no sources answer my questions adequately.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
28 reviews
October 10, 2016
Easy to read and understand. Good background on how to interpret science, especially in the absence of adequate and/or unequivocal evidence. The chapters on solid foods were especially helpful to me since that's on the horizon for my family. Worth a read and to keep on hand as a reference.
Profile Image for Laura.
70 reviews14 followers
September 22, 2017
Very useful EVIDENCE BASED guide for baby's first year. Will refer back to it at different stages.
Profile Image for Kristine Samonte.
8 reviews1 follower
June 2, 2023

Five stars and the moon kind of rating.

I absolutely enjoyed reading this. One would think this is gonna be a difficult read because well, it’s science. But boy was I surprised! The author’s done a great job approaching each idea in a scientific lens without overwhelming her readers. The way she describes each topic is just so flawless, organized, and very easy to digest. This is important to me because I am very meticulous about writing styles and this book is one of those I really REALLY admire. For me personally, you could have the greatest idea but if it’s poorly written and delivered it’s gonna be a highly acclaimed garbage in my eyes. At least that’s how i approach reading.

The author was direct to the point, no excessive repetitiveness (which i get annoyed very easily), was non-judgemental and most of all she adds bits of important history here and there which honestly made me understand the issues at hand so much better. That’s science and history in one. What’s not to love? I also like that the author has an open and impartial mind that makes readers comfortable whichever path they choose by explaining the unconventional approach bias-free. This is rare when it comes to parenting books or perhaps any other type of books. Most authors favor one over the other making readers feel bad about their choices.

Anyways, I wish I picked this up way sooner because there’s lots to learn from this book. As a millennial parent, it’s very common to hear that my generation’s presented with an overwhelmingly abundant information online — and that cannot be more true. In a world of misinformation, I am glad to see someone shine the light on sensitive parenting topics with reliable, unbiased and science-backed data. This is something I would pick up again when the need arises for sure.

This also somehow made me more confident as a first time parent knowing the science behind every important decisions my partner and I are going to make from breastfeeding, to vaccines, to co sleeping, to feeding solids and so on. This is in no way an exhaustive list of all things parenting but this is a great place to start.

PS — One trivial observation: she used the word “percent” instead of the typical “%” sign and I thought this made a huge difference on why the book was not that too overwhelming despite the author throwing a million scientific findings in my face. I get too overwhelmed when I see lots of numbers and percentages in one page which is ironic because I crunch numbers by profession. Anyways, that was just in the back of my mind when I finished the book.
Author 1 book13 followers
April 25, 2018
I really liked this book. I have been frustrated trying to find parenting books. Most are condescending, opinionated without being informative, and/or poorly written. This is the first parenting book that I have really enjoyed.

Alice Callahan has a PhD and post-doc in fetal physiology (she also used to be a lab technician at the National Zoo! How cool is that!). She backs up all of her claims--there are extensive footnotes and appendices at the end of the book. She is clear and concise, with occasional concrete guidance. And while she doesn't minimize how difficult parenting can be, she makes some of it sound like a lot of fun. Her voice is precise, but mellow. She seems like someone I would enjoy having in my life.

Without being didactic, she has changed the way that I will approach certain aspects of parenting. I am going to be very careful to watch how my baby responds to eating. I will be responsive to her needs. When she is ready, I will try to introduce her to new foods. I hope this is at four months. One new food at a time, so I can see if she has any allergies. I will spoon-feed if she is not up to feeding herself. And I will start off feeding her pureed fish, beef, and egg yolks. Maybe I will pick up edible insects at the food co-op. This is completely different from what I planned, and it may not go this way. But this certainly isn't what I was thinking of before I read the book.

Readers like me may be annoyed that certain chapters had be included. She has a section on the value of vaccines, with appendices debunking various vaccine myths. It bothers me so much that we are a point in history where people are avoiding vaccines for their children. Clearly, the chapters are necessary. Callahan does have the necessary story-telling chops to explain why vaccines are so necessary, but she also has enough information new to me that I was not bored reading the chapters. All in all, a really good book.
2 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2021
I am not one to review books but this felt like it deserved it. As a new mom, I find there is a lot of confusing and judgmental or highly difficult to achieve advice provided in books and all over the internet. This is NOT the case here.

It is an easy read, easy to digest and to understand. You don’t really need to have a scientific mind. Everything is explained and made mundane for the average mom who doesn’t have the time to decipher complicated terms and passages.

There is only one section in which she has a resolved opinion to offer and that is on vaccines. Again, however, the information is clear and honest, with very good explanations. It is now my go to reference if I need to explain to anyone my choice to vaccinate.

All other sections are incredibly helpful, well rounded and honestly, made me feel better and reassured as a new mom. She is open about the different methods, how children and cultures differ from one to the next, all the while maintaining an accent on safety and love being the most important things. There is no judgement and ALOT of respect for each moms choice. I loved that.

My only regret with this book is that there is not more content and I do hope this will turn into a whole series 😁

Thank you for writing this for us moms who need information and support and to know we are doing okay.

Profile Image for Colleen.
20 reviews7 followers
January 20, 2022
I enjoyed this and wanted more! As someone who didn't pick this up until my baby was 4.5 months old, I found it to be as teeny bit heavy on the newborn side for a book subtitled "Guide to Your Baby's First Year" and I skimmed some chapters, while I found others really helpful and informative!

In particular, the chapters on solid food were highly educational from both a nutritional and allergen introduction perspective. I learned a lot of new information that is already informing our introduction of solid foods - focusing on rich sources of heme iron such as meat, fish and egg yolks, emphasizing vegetables before fruits, and specific ways to incorporate common allergens to provide exposure.

Although the entire point of this book is sharing evidence-based recommendations, the author points out repeatedly that it's not always possible to do everything perfectly or optimally - the most important thing is to do what you reasonably can for your specific baby and family situation. I really appreciated those reminders, and that she shared examples from her own family where things didn't always go perfectly. Overall, the book was very non-judgmental and empathetic in a space where those qualities can be sorely lacking and black-and-white thinking can abound.
Profile Image for D.M..
Author 1 book5 followers
December 1, 2017
In the 1970's Dr. Spock advised that babies should be put to sleep on their stomachs so that they didn't spit up and choke. This recommendation was based on neither science nor research and it's believed that this advice lead to the deaths of 70,000 infants. That's the power of bad advice and as a parent you'll receive a stunning array. Before you take any advice, however, you should inquire- where is your research? Alice Callahan, herself sporting a PhD in Nutrition, who later went on to study fetal physiology has a lot of answers. She looks at vaccines, when to start solid foods (and how best to avoid setting your child up for celiac disease or food allergies), the co-sleeping debate, infant sleep, and common newborn procedures. My only caveat with this book is that when she looks at the increased risks of SIDS amongst bedsharing families, she fails to point out that SIDS is a catch all term for any unexpected infant deaths and this includes accidental suffocation. In this sense, the increased risk of SIDS in bedsharing families is not SIDs as we understand it (with no explanation), but rather accidental suffocation.
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