About Me

My name is Alice Callahan. I started this blog in the fall of 2010 as I was adjusting to life as a new mom and off the academic track. See, after the birth of my daughter in 2010 (who goes by Cee on the blog), I decided to leave the world of academic science for the time being, trading it for more time with my daughter and the opportunity to write. 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. 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 good and bad science and trying to write coherent stories about how science informs parenthood. That’s what I do on this blog. I also just finished writing my first book, tentatively titled “The Science of Mom: An Evidence-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year,” due to be published in 2015 by Johns Hopkins Press.

This blog has become much more than an outlet for my science writing, however. I write frankly about my parenting challenges and breakthroughs, and most recently about miscarriage and infertility, and I am constantly amazed by and grateful for the smart, supportive, and kind readers who contribute thoughtful comments to my posts. This blog is also a community of parents who are curious about science and compassionate to each other.

Photo by Lori Cole

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.

I always welcome your ideas for blog posts. Use the Contact form, or email me at scienceofmom [at the Google mail] dot com to reach me. I can’t promise to answer every email that I receive, but I do try.

You can find more about me, including my professional qualifications, on my LinkedIn Profile.

Comment Policy: This blog is my space, and I reserve the right to delete any comment that I don’t want to sit in my space. I appreciate spirited discussion and don’t mind if you disagree with me, but I don’t tolerate meanness directed towards me or another commenter. I also am a stickler for solid science, so if you post a comment or link that is not supported by science, it may not be published.

Reviews and Giveaways: Very occasionally, I post book reviews and host giveaways on my blog. Sometimes authors or their publicists send me new books, and I love books, especially honest-to-goodness paper and print ones that are delivered to my doorstep! However, I only review books on my blog that I really love. We only have time for really great books anyway, and what would be the point of sharing anything less with you? If the publisher offers to run a book giveaway for a book that I think you’ll really like, then I’m happy to host it on my blog. I only review books, and I’m never paid for reviews (except for the free copy of the book that I received.)

Disclaimer: The information and opinions on this site do not constitute medical advice. Please consult your pediatrician or other medical professional if you have medical questions.

68 thoughts on “About Me

  1. just found your blog on the “parenting” home page. I think our blogs are a lot alike… except you do the research and the science, and I just rely on what I’ve heard from other moms and what’s worked for me =). I also have a Baby C. Maybe we can learn from each other! I look forward to reading your blog.

  2. I just found this blog and already love it. I found it through DoubleX Science, another great blog by a cool scientist mom. I’m not a scientist mom – I’m a journalist mom, but my focus in my writing has been health and science, so that’s the focus of the blog I’ve just started, Red Wine & Apple Sauce. I see myself linking to yours quite a bit (and I’ve added you to my blogroll). Thanks for making sense of science for other parents – I feel a sort of personal calling to address lack of scientific literacy among parents, and it seems your blog addresses this need as well!

    • I love DoubleXSci! They are so cool:) Glad you found me, and I’m glad to know about you, too! I’ll look forward to reading your blog, and you can certainly link away to ScienceofMom!

  3. Hi Alice! It’s Lucy from Putney. I have a 4 and a 6 year old and I love it. Your voice is a refreshing one for me! I have been swimming in a sea of hippie moms who tune out scientists and doctors. I expect I will check in here from time to time for some balance. Best to you — you go!

    • Hi Lucy! I’m so glad that you like the blog. I paddle around with hippie moms, too. I learn a lot from them, but I am also a skeptic and like to see the science. It really is about balance and finding one’s own truth as a mother:) Hugs to you and your kiddos. Maybe we’ll meet again sometime. I think you are in the Pacific Northwest, right?

  4. A breath of fresh, balanced air! I think that’s what your blog is :-) I was driven here because of my itchy eye–my 2-year-old has conjunctivitis, unfortunately the hemorrhagic type, and so far, thank God, none of us has contracted it. I am keen to have it stay that way! My older son once had it, and through diligence, we were able to completely avoid any further occurrence amongst other household members. That said, what I like about your blog is the balanced sensibility you bring to mothering, with the painstaking work you do to present available scientific facts and evidence, together with a sense of openness to therapies/methods outside of traditional Western medicine. Keep up the great work, and God bless your family. :-)

  5. What a great blog! I am also a mom with a Ph.D. and I have the same propensity toward thoroughly researching every decision. I am glad that I can check here first to save myself a bit of work :)

    • Nice to meet you Betsy! I think having a PhD gives me a different perspective as a parent – not necessarily more smarts when it comes to parenting but a healthy dose of skepticism for sure:) Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in future conversations:)

  6. Hi Alice,

    Your post on baby sleep was linked on the WordPress homepage and made me curious.
    I, too, am a bioscientist turned mother (my baby is nine months old now) and I found it quite hard to get adjusted to my new “job”. It is not the parenting part of it that is irritating, I feel overwhelming love for my little one and following my instincts works pretty well most of the time:) .

    The hard part was being taken out of the world of science, curiosity, questioning and discussing things and trying to find the “truth” behind everything and all of a sudden being thrown into a world of dogmatic beliefs, hearsay and witchcraft. A world ruled by women (mostly, naturally) with strong opinions on alternative medicine, immunization, breast feeding, healing stones, carrying, etc. based on something that a midwife told another midwife who told a friend…

    It is always a relief to find that there are other mothers “out there” who just want to be good moms – and who triple check the sources of parenting tips. I certainly will stop by again – when my baby is sleeping!

    • Hi! Nice to meet you! I have found a surprising number of scientist turned moms and lots of scientists + moms out there since I’ve started blogging. I completely agree with you that the parenting world is full of dogma and it can be difficult to sort through it yourself, let alone have an intelligent conversation with another parent about it. I find that I actually don’t use much science in my own parenting decisions, to be honest. Like you said, I trust my instinct and learn from others around me, using what makes sense to me and what seems to work in my family. It is when I find others claiming magical cures or that there is science backing a particular dogma that I get the urge to start digging through the scientific literature. It’s generally fun and interesting and keeps my mind working, which is what I need these days. Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you keep reading!

  7. We are new, apprentices in the task of raising a son and us there seems to be fantastic the initiative that you show. Sharing your experiences helps us. Our mistakes are several, but not so much. By the way, we are from Spain, so, excuse my writing languaje…

  8. How refreshing! References!!! I would love to see posts on working with older kids to start eating healthier. We are a “blended” family with four kids, three of whom live in other households with different eating habits for half the week.

    • That’s a great topic! One thing that is kind of funny about having a PhD in Nutrition is that this background has actually simplified my nutrition advice. For the most part, I think that we should be eating a variety of whole foods, locally when possible (because they taste better and are often higher in nutrients), and that we should cook with our kids! I’m sure your blended family makes this a bit trickier, since the kids may have different expectations in terms of food. I’d say prepare healthy meals and have a “this is how we do it in our house” attitude. I know easier said than done:) Anyway, if you have some specific nutrition questions, let me know, and I’ll keep my mind open for more family nutrition articles. Thanks for reading!

      • Hi again–thanks for your reply! I have a Masters in Public Health myself, and have worked on a lot of “big picture” nutrition issues, such as school foods policies. It’s been a real eye-opener to be faced with trying to serve healthy, homemade, unprocessed, seasonal, vegetarian meals to older kids who don’t (yet!) have the palate for it. But just like you said in your post comparing veggies and fruits, repeated exposure is the key. Meanwhile, my daughter is happiest eating minimally prepared spinach, broccoli, beans, and tofu. It’s challenging trying to make everybody happy. Food is so associated with the sense of belonging to a community, and we want all the kids to feel comfortable in our new family. We’ve found a few things that everybody likes, but then they get bored. It’s amazing how much of our mental energy goes into meal-planning!! Anyway, I’m very happy to have found your blog. The brain needs food, too!

  9. Really love your blog! I’m finishing my Phd at the moment, and am a mum to a 4 year old and 9 month old (lets just say writing up is slow going!). My research is in anthropology and I’m really interested in issues of reflexive methodology and epistomology. What I love about your blog is how it resolves some of the tensions that exist in connecting the findings of academic research with ‘normal’ life (for want of a better term); bridging the divide between the ivory tower and the everyday through using the medium of blogging to connect with an audience that wouldn’t read journals, and using the format of the blog post connected to a reflexive practice (your experience as a parent) to elucidate the findings of the research you gather. I find it funny that some commentators have placed you in oppositions to ‘hippy’ or ‘natural’ mothers. It seems to me that in combining a rigorous academic background, thorough research, an innovative means of dissemination and a (partly) reflexive methodology, you are allowing for the connections between science and folk-knowing to be made more obvious, and breaking down the false dichotomising between the two which only serves to muddy the waters of this parenting lark further! Thank you for your hard work! And one question – when do you write/research? You say you are a stay-at-home mum, and as a stay-at-home mum (trying) to finish a PhD, and finding it challenging to find the time, I’d love some tips!

    • Dominique, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I find the parenting labels that we use to categorize ourselves and each other totally unuseful! I’m interested in the truth, and my ideas about truth are strongly weighted towards things that are supported by scientific research. I think there is a lot to be learned from each other and our experiences as well, and I know I am guilty of discounting these when there isn’t evidence to back it up – something I’ve been thinking about lately. Anyway, I’m very sympathetic that you are working on finishing your PhD while juggling the many tasks of parenting. I totally understand slow going… I published several papers after the birth of my daughter, and so I know that writing in 20-30 min increments can be very inefficient. I mainly use naptimes to write, and I love writing in the early morning when the stars align and BabyC sleeps late enough and I go to bed early enough the night before:) It’s tough. I’d like to do more writing beyond this blog, but time is always the limiting factor. Writing and reading science does give me a great balance to the work of parenting, though! It makes me realize how much I enjoy both of them and want to keep them in my life!

      • Thanks for your reply! And your tips are great… pretty much the approach I have adopted since baby number 2 (when the stars align!). Even with the limitations and the toughness, when I am not being too hard on myself, this statement really resonates:

        “Writing and reading science does give me a great balance to the work of parenting, though! It makes me realize how much I enjoy both of them and want to keep them in my life!”

        Thanks again for sharing your passions so eloquently!

  10. I am so excited to come across this blog! I have no science background but I research and think about parenting stuff so much that I love finding impartial summaries of everything out there by people with qualifications (who can write!).
    I’m particularly excited that you have a PhD in nutritional biology as my toddler’s diet is a top parenting priority for me, and he’s turned out to be a super fussy eater. I would love your thoughts on the “nutrition mix” I give him daily to try and pack in everything he currently refuses to eat, and how effective you think it would be (or not) in making up that nutritional balance. It’s explained in this post: http://mamaplus.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/my-nutrition-mix.
    Just one other comment on your blog: I can’t see a follow button anywhere; have you considered adding a widget to make it easy for people to subscribe to your posts by email?
    Thanks – JM

  11. LOVE your blog. I actually came across it on the wordpress dash board while not being able to sleep at 3 am! My 6 month old woke me up at 1 am and I have not been able to fall back asleep. I didnt come to wordpress at this ungoldy hour to research sleep stuff, I came to write a post for my own blog, but I think its interesting that I did find a sleep related blog post on the wordpress dashboard at 3 am! I am not a scientists or a doctor but I am an avid reader and I am one of those kind of people who wants to know as much scientific info as possible while discerning whats best for my child, especially as it relates to sleep, development, attachment etc. I am so thankful to have your blog as a new resource to add to my mix! Thank you for taking the time to share your findings and experiences with fellow mommas in the trenches!

  12. I came here through Freshly pressed and I’m hooked. Your writings are so informative and well thought. We are planning a baby this year and I guess I’ll keep a link to your blog so I can get back whenever I have a question.
    Please continue writing beautiful posts.

  13. Pingback: Why Fixing Your Kid’s Sleep Problems Is Not Selfish | Craig Canapari, MD

  14. Love your blog!!— I have a master’s in nutrition and am a pediatrician — a mom and most recently, a grandmother. It is great that you are helping moms understand all the information that they are exposed to.

    • Yes! Join the ScienceofMom conversation on FB here! It’s a happening place:) You can also subscribe by email – look for a link on the right hand side of my home page. That way, you get an email every time I post. FB is great, but you may not see everything I post there. Thanks for asking!

  15. Hi, this is a great idea! I just started a blog on developmental psychology research too. The idea is that I describe research studies that parents can “try” at home to learn more about cognitive, language, and social development. It’s meant to be fun and enlightening! My blog is: http://www.myfirsttheory.com
    Hope you get a chance to take a look!

  16. Just stumbled upon your blog…Realized we live somewhat parallel lives. I went to UC Davis in 2004 to study biochemistry, and later transferred to the University of Arizona to finish my degree in accounting…So different outcomes, but same schools. I am expecting my first baby in September and am enjoying reading your blog! I started one too! Check it out if you get a chance.

    http://www.thebabydoctorswife.wordpress.com

  17. Hi Alice – great site! I work in the global nutrition program at the CDC – with a bunch of people who got their doctorate degrees at UC-Davis in nutrition! I work part-time at CDC and stay home part time with my 2 awesome little kids, and very much lean towards natural parenting / holistics, etc. but also love to see the science behind ideas and probably over-use pubmed when it comes to parenting :) Keep up the good work!
    Tiffany

  18. Oh this is so great! I’m also and (environmental health) scientist mom and can related, as I find myself constantly on PubMed and Google Scholar, etc. re: every imaginable topic. Its too much sometimes. Anyhow, so glad I found your site.

  19. Hello hello hello! I stumbled upon your blog when I was googling about ‘toddler’ and ‘brush teeth’ and ‘toothwipes’. I read your post on the xylitol stuff and was wondering why the blog post was so well written, even in academic way. Now I know why :)
    Wow, you really inspired me, thumbs up! I’m in my 1st year of PhD in Electrical Engineering now. My little one is 2y3m old now and resists the brushing teeth stuff. Wish us luck :)

  20. I just stumbled upon your blog, and although we are a little late to the game, I enjoy it very much. Thank you for all of your wonderful posts, and I look forward to reading lots more!

  21. Hello Science of Mom
    I’m one of your followers – The Geeky Gardener (http://www.thegeekygardener.com) – and I’ve been so impressed with your blog that I’ve just nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award.
    Congratulations!
    It’s an award that bloggers give to other bloggers.
    If you want to find out more, here’s a blog about the award (http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com ), which outlines what you need to do if you choose to accept the award and how you go about nominating your own favourite blogs for the award in the future.
    So, congratulations again.
    The Geeky Gardener
    PS a one-time scientist and mum to a spritely 5-year-old

  22. I love reading your blog and even send my patients too it sometimes! I work as a family medicine doctor in Seattle and am the mother of a 2-year old little girl. I am constantly inspired by your honesty and diligence in trudging through the science. Thanks for the amazing blog and keep it up!

  23. Wow! I am just discovering your blog. I’m excited for the new book! :) Good science is le*important. Thanks for the blog!

  24. Pingback: Zero to Five: A Book Review and Giveaway | Science of Mom

  25. I’ve just discovered your blog and wanted to thank you for doing this! As an epidemiologist and a new mom, I always feel compelled to look up the literature behind various parenting issues, but I haven’t had the time, and I think it’s important to be able to take an evidence-based approach when deciding what’s right for one’s family.

  26. FINALLY!!!!! After well over a year of perusing chat boards with uneducated, and often mean-spirited people forcing their opinions on people who are simply looking for advice and guidance, I found YOU! Couldn’t be happier. I am a full-time working (single) Mom and have already benefitted from your sound, scientific attention to many of the issues I am curious about or am facing with my 10 month old. Bravo! Can’t wait to read your book when it is published!

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