Evidence-based parenting takes center stage in ‘The Science of Mom’

Evidence-based parenting takes center stage in ‘The Science of Mom’ September 4, 2015

Evidence-based parenting has been a growing movement in recent years as parents look for better and more effective ways to raise a family. Moving away from family traditions and the “that’s how my parents did it” mentality, parents are looking towards science for answers.

That is what makes Alice Callahan’s new book The Science of Mom such a timely and necessary book for parents.

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In almost no other time in your life will you get such truckloads of unsolicited advice as when you become a parent. Everyone from your grandmother to someone at the grocery store has advice about what is right and wrong to do.

There are many books on the subject giving advice on what methods should be used for feeding, putting your child to sleep, potty training, where your child should sleep, and how to discipline your child.

Most books rely on nothing but anecdotal or invented evidence. The author tells you to let your baby cry it out, but is that really the best thing you can do? Some will tell you physical punishment is the best way to correct bad behavior, but scientific evidence suggests otherwise.

This is what sets The Science of Mom apart from the rest. It is not your ordinary parenting book full of advice on how the author thinks you should raise your baby because it’s how she did. Instead, she offers actual research-based advice from countless scientific studies that show some of the best parenting methods and techniques and addresses what is right and wrong about them, and why.

Though she tackles too many topics to cover in one review, some stood out as some the most talked-about topics of our day.

Vaccine denial is running rampant in the US, and many diseases such as measles are making a frightening comeback. But because of the massive amounts of misinformation out there being spread by the anti-vaccination movement, many well-meaning parents are turning away vaccines because they just don’t know any better.

Callahan tackles this subject with sensitivity and a calmness lost by most who spend their days combating the anti-vaccine movement. She provides a perfect summary of how we know vaccines are safe and what kind of scientific research has been done to assure the public that vaccines are safe.

She also addresses the very controversial subject of co-sleeping, a popular method of sleeping for many parents who believe it is best for their child.

Callahan offers both sides of this argument and presents studies that show not only the danger but also that it could be seen as safe. But then she applies a logical and rational argument that even with some evidence suggesting it may not be as dangerous as some believe, there is still enough evidence to suggest it might be. And when it comes to the safety of your child, falling on the side of caution and letting your baby sleep alone is best.

She even has the same nonjudgmental approach to breastfeeding, understanding it is not an option for all moms. She lays out the pros of breastfeeding but also gives moms who choose not to or cannot some peace of mind by explaining the differences between breast and formula feeding and what babies do and do not lose or gain.

I found this method — presenting both sides to some arguments that justifiably have two sides to be made, but not giving arguments to sides that are plainly wrong, such as the anti-vaccine movement — to be honest and helpful. This book is exactly what evidence-based parenting is and is a perfect example of science at work.

Overall, the book is a must have. Dads, don’t let the title put you off. As a father, I found The Science of Mom just as useful. 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.

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