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I’m Writing a Book!

I have always wanted to be a writer, long before I thought about going into science. I have a stack of journals going back to when I was nine-years-old, wire-bound notebooks with frayed covers. They are each carefully titled: My Writing: Volume 4, Written and Illustrated by Alice Sawyer Green. The writing inside is rich with details of a childhood, tedious as they are: school cancelled for snow, play practice, baking cookies, skating in sneakers on our frozen creek, and a record of state license plates spotted on road trips. But it is there, documented. I’ve been doing this for a long time. And yet, I can’t bring myself to say that I’m a writer.

When I was a senior in high school, I started learning the violin in a group class. Those first few scales played on the violin are as awkward as a nine-year-old’s writing. They are hesitant and careful and yet somehow so loud. It’s impossible to be subtle when you’re learning to play a new instrument. You have to screw up repeatedly before the notes become music.

I loved playing the violin, though. I worked hard at it, practicing for at least an hour per day, and not because anyone told me I had to but simply because I wanted to be better. But still, I never would have called myself a violinist. Or a musician. And indeed, with that attitude, I never would be a violinist. In college, I went through phases of playing through the simple tunes I learned in high school, but I never took lessons again. I stopped learning.

Looking back, I was scared of all the loud, off-key screeching that lay between being a beginner and becoming competent in music. And it was impossible for me to not compare myself to the other musicians at my school. It seemed that they had all been playing for at least a decade, and the skill they had acquired through all those years of practice seemed unreachable to me. Now that I’ve been alive for a few of them, I realize that a decade isn’t really that long. Time is ticking away on the next one. In the end, I’m not (yet) a violinist not because I didn’t start at a young enough age, but because I stopped playing the violin.

If I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I’ve been writing down my stories since I was a little girl, what is stopping me? Is it the knowledge that any chance of being good at writing will require countless hours and years of work? Is it the certainty that along the way I will produce bad writing? Is it the fear that I might not ever be very good at it?

My two-year-old Cee would never learn to dress herself if she had that kind of attitude. And we’d miss out on all the maddening and enlightening moments in which she insists on trying to put her shirt on upside down or two legs in one pant leg.

So. Deep breath. Here we go. In this decade, I will become a writer. I’ll probably be playing off-key without knowing it, and I might walk out in public with my pants on backwards once or twice. But how else will I learn?

I signed a book contract with Johns Hopkins Press last month. Over the next year, I’ll be writing a book about science and parenting. It is my dream and my nightmare all rolled into one. It is a dream to work on a huge fascinating project, to have a very good excuse to read stacks of papers and to talk with scientists, doctors, and parents about some of the most difficult and interesting questions facing today’s parents. It is a dream to have someone tell me that yes, this is a good idea and that yes, you are the right person to write this book. And I figure that if I want to be a writer, then what better way to establish a writing habit and to practice it every day than to have a huge looming deadline?

The nightmare part is that tackling anything this hard brings out my voices of self-doubt, the ones that remind me that I’m not a writer and that probably nobody will read my book. But really, how often do you wake up from a bad dream and let it change what you do that day? Instead, I’m trying to reflect on the self-doubt: “It’s interesting to see you here, self-doubt, but I have writing to do.”

My book is about the first year of parenting. It covers some of the most controversial and talked-about parenting topics, with chapters on childbirth, attachment, feeding, sleep, vaccines, and development. The voice of the book is my own: a mother who also happens to be trained as a scientist, not with expert knowledge but with the ability to wade through scientific literature. My goal is to share the scientific background on these topics in an accessible and open-minded way, complete with discussions of the limitations of the science. As a parent, I have found that having this information is liberating. To know the science – to know where it is helpful and where it is not helpful – this frees us from the passionate discourse that is so often the source of judgment and guilt and fuel for the so-called mommy wars.

I want this book to be full of science but also rich with stories. I have gained so much perspective on parenting through this blog, for the most part because you have graciously shared your stories here. To any new parent, there is value in hearing that others have struggled and that they have also found solutions – and not all the same ones, either. The book will include some of my stories, but I hope that it will include many of yours as well, if you are willing to share them. (I will always ask. Nothing you write in the comments here will show up in the book unless I have your permission.) As I research and write, I’ll be discussing my progress on the blog, and I will always be grateful for your input.

This decade, I will be a writer, even though I feel that I’ve just begun to write. Picking up the violin again? I’m afraid that will have to remain on the back burner for the next year or so.

Here’s your first chance to help me out with my book: With so many parenting books out there, what books did you read and find helpful during your first year of parenting? Now, perhaps with a little more experience under your belt, what do you wish those books had told you but didn’t? What do you think I should know about my target audience (you!) as I begin to write?

66 Comments
  1. KT #

    My absolute favorite read was Heading Home with your Newborn, From Birth to Reality. It was authored by two pedatrician moms (so both expertise and experience combined), but best of all it was non-fear-mongering. After months of the “this scenario about your pregnancy is probably normal, except in the 1/1000th chance it means your baby is DYING” pregnancy books, a book that was upbeat and positive was such a relief! And the authors didn’t weigh in on a controversy when there was no clear reason to. So they mentioned that different people advocate one-sided nursing or two-sided nursing, explained why, and told the reader to decide. It was fantastic.

    As a side note, I have yet to find a baby sleep book I’ve really liked. I found one internet resource that aggregates them all and adds in some mom-common-sense, but I’m not sure if even that would’ve made sense to me if I hadn’t already read so much and lived through a few months of trying to get a baby to sleep. If someone would finally write one that actually clearly laid out the hows of parenting a baby to sleep alongside the scientific whys, it would be the holy grail.

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Hi KT – I haven’t read Heading Home with your Newborn, so I’ll put that on my list. It sounds great. I am planning a chapter on newborn care. It is such a unique and important period, and it can be incredibly overwhelming and stressful. It will be helpful to check out a book that can remind me of all the things that I fretted about during that period.

      I think that handling controversy is tricky. When I first started blogging, I vowed to stay away from the controversial issues. Then I discovered that the controversial issues also tended to be the most interesting and unfortunately, the biggest source of angst for parents. In a way, I want this book to focus on some of these controversial issues but to convey that for most of them (vaccines being the one big exception that comes to mind), there are pretty good arguments on both sides and what we know from a scientific standpoint leaves lots of room for honoring your instinct and doing what feels right.

      Sleep books are hard, because they tend to start with a philosophy and offer methods around the philosophy. If you feel confident in your philosophy, then you just have to find the book that is the best match. If you aren’t sure what your philosophy is yet, then you’re going to feel confused and overwhelmed. I think that starting with what we know from the science and offering a range of options would be a great premise for a book. I’m planning just one chapter on sleep, but I can certainly imagine writing an entire book on it!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  2. To be completely honest, I started following your blog a couple days before my son came home from a long stay in the hospital after his birth. Your blog has been the most influential written parenting advise that I have come across. You give a lot of background information about parenting styles and topics without passing judgement or pushing your own opinions. I want to use facts to development my parenting style and I have found them here. I look forward to the release of your book and will buy it. Who knows, I may have a giveaway of my own on my blog. Good luck and Congratulations! Your book will be great.

    On another note, I have been using your advice on feeding a toddler and it’s working great to allow my son to take the reins on feeding development. I plan to make your kale chips this weekend (toddler approved veggies entry).

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Wow, Kaytee, this is SUCH a compliment! I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to know that I’ve had a positive influence on your experience as a parent. I plan to get back into a more regular blog posting schedule as I get into more research for the book, because I want to keep providing evidence-based information to readers of the blog. And I’m glad that feeding is going well!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  3. Susan #

    Please don’t hesitate to continue sharing your opinions in your future book. I appreciate the way that you provide your opinion but are always careful to preface it with the “this worked for us but might or might not work for you” attitude. Parenting is so much about doing what works best for each family and each child. It would be refreshing to read a parenting book that didn’t come off as the complete authority on the exact way to raise a child. It would also be refreshing to read of another mom’s fears and frustraitions in a parenting book. The “experts” who write these books seem to either have the patience of Job or have never had a difficult moment. We “real moms” well understand that at some point we all find ourselves sobbing on the bathroom floor while we try to figure out how to care for a child while we are sick or crying right along with our fussy newborn because we haven’t yet figured out that baby is having a very gassy day. Life isn’t perfect and a book that reflects that would be refreshing.

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    December 11, 2012
    • This is great advice – thank you! I don’t intend to write an expert guidebook of any sort. I don’t know what it takes for someone to call themselves a parenting expert, but I know I’m not there yet. I think you’re right that so much of what we need as new parents is just to share the experience with all of its confusion and frustration and to know that we aren’t alone. That’s what is missing from many of our lives, where parenting is often quite isolating. Offering a few potential solutions from my experience or another parents’ experience and offering perspective – that’s likely to be the most helpful. Sometimes just hearing, “Yes, this is so hard, and you are not alone in that,” is a relief!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  4. Luciana #

    You haven’t written the book yet but you already have one sold to me. I will deffenetly read it. I love love love your blog!!!

    Tracy Hogg for basic reading. It was my first book in this topic. Covers a little bit of everything.

    My buggest problem with my toddler was and still is sleeping. I read lots and lots on book. The best for sleeping I think is a combination of Marc weissbluth: “Healthy sleep habits, happy child”, and “Bedtimming” from Marc D. lewis. PhD.

    One of my favorite (maybe my favorite) is “what’s going on in there?” Lise Eliot, PhD. It’s about brain development. Wonderful book!!!

    The otherone that marked me is “becoming Attached” Ribert Karen, PHD.

    Now I am reading a lighter book that I am liking, I think you recommended it: “bringing up bebe” Pamela Druckerman. It is lighter and does not have sience in it but it has helped me to relax a little.

    Good luck and please let me know when you publish it!!!

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Thank you Luciana! Great list of books, some of which I haven’t read yet. I really enjoyed Bringing Up Bebe. I liked that it was light, easy reading, but it really got me thinking about my parenting style. I think that if you can define your parenting style, then a lot of the nuts and bolts of how you handle everyday parenting situations sort of fall into place. And I loved how she wove her story into her investigation into French parenting. I hope that I can manage to do the same, because I think it makes for more entertaining reading. Also, as a reader, I love feeling like I know the author a bit, like we have a few things in common.

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      December 12, 2012
  5. Christine K #

    Hurray! I can’t wait to read your book! I’ve enjoyed each and everyone of your posts and appreciate your honest and pragmatic approach to parenthood. My favorite sleep book is Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s _Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child_. As a quick reference, I enjoy _Baby 411_ by Denise Fields and Dr. Ari Brown (I’m reading _Toddler 411_ now). There seem to be many “How To” child manuals out there, so I’m looking forward to simply hearing more about your experiences with Cee, how you teach her about the world, and what she teaches you.

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    December 11, 2012
    • Baby 411 was my guidebook for the first year. It was a quick, simple, trusted source of information. I give it as a gift to many new parents. That’s not the kind of book I’m trying to write – but I think every parent needs that sort of reference book for the middle-of-the-night freakout questions:)

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  6. I’ve read a few of your blog posts when my cousin Esmee posted them. Based on what I’ve read here, it’ll be fantastic! I know exactly what you mean about how we feel about things we weren’t expert at as a child – that they can’t be really “ours” because we didn’t own them when we formed our identity. It’s a big loss to not take these things on because we have a fatalistic “starting to late to be great at it” false idea, or because it’s scary/embarrassing to be going through the beginner/failing often phase. Be brave, honest, be like this blog and it’ll be great : ). Looking forward to it.

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Thank you! Everything truly satisfying in my life – parenting being one of them – has been really hard work. I expect that writing a book will be no different. Be brave and honest – I like that advice!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  7. Shirley Lemelle #

    Good Luck, Alice. I am looking forward to read your book.
    I am from the old school, I am 63 years old now. I remember reading Dr. Spock, and try to learn to be a good mother as much as I could. We always received instruction booklet when we get something new, but there is no instruction booklet with the new baby.
    One thing I learn, every baby is different ( I have 2), therefore we cannot raise them the same way. Another thing I learn, eventhough I love both of my sons, I have to be more generous in telling them that I love them.
    I am proud of both sons, but there is a nagging that I think I wish I can do a better job.
    It sounds like your violin story, I hope I can listen to you playing the violin.

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Shirley, I have thought a lot about how much parenting has changed over the last couple generations. My mom says the same thing – she had Dr. Spock and the advice of a few friends, but she was very much figuring things out on her own. These days, I think parents have more information than they know what to do with – and so much of it is conflicting! There are pluses and minuses to that. Information is helpful, but we also need permission to follow our instinct (if we can find it – I think that many of us find that it doesn’t come easily!) and experiment, and that if we love and respect our children, we’ll do OK. And I love your advice to be generous with your love:)

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      December 12, 2012
  8. Good for you! I always wanted to be a writer, too, and this year I finally got up the nerve to start calling myself one. I’ve found that when you first start out in the business, calling yourself a writer is one of the most difficult parts of the job, but it’s also extremely vital because it helps you view yourself and your work more seriously. Now, however, I am pregnant with my first child and I’m wondering how the life of the writer coincides with the life of a mother. Any advice or ideas?

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    December 11, 2012
    • Well, I’m definitely still trying to figure that out. I think the hardest thing about combining writing and motherhood is time and energy. I know that sticking to a regular writing schedule is really key to developing the habit and growing the craft, but if Cee’s schedule gets thrown off, so does my writing schedule. And sometimes when I put her down for a nap or bed, all I want to do is crawl in my own bed, but doing so would sacrifice my writing time. I struggle with this nearly every day, but a combination of consistency AND flexibility – some sweet spot between the two – seems to work best. Funny enough, both of those attributes are useful for parenting, too!

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      December 12, 2012
  9. mt #

    Congratulations! How exciting! I’m not surprised at all that you’re working with a terrific academic press.

    In response to your question about parenting books, I never found one that “felt” right; I’ve turned to your blog more than any book because your voice is is balanced and reassuring. I really feel like you’re rooting for all of us.

    One parenting book I returned to time and again is the Weissbluth sleep book already mentioned in the comments. However, he can be a little prescriptive at times. Weissbluth is certainly not the worst offender, but that’s generally my problem with most of the parenting resources out there. There always seems to be an agenda, even when the advice is sound. KellyMom, for instance, is a wonderful breastfeeding resources, but she’s clearly pushing an attachment style of parenting, which isn’t right for everyone.

    The other book I enjoyed is Pamela Druckerman’s “Bringing Up Bébé,” even though it’s memoir more than a parenting book. I loved the message about treating children and babies with true respect and establishing boundaries for them. I thought setting boundaries was something I wouldn’t have to think about until my son was a toddler (ha!), and the stories in Druckerman’s book gave me the confidence to realize I could set (reasonable) expectations early–which I had to do when my son suddenly started biting, pinching, and slapping me when he nursed.

    What should you know about your audience? People most likely to turn to a parenting book are first-timers, and desperately need encouragement! A friend of mine, who is a family doctor, got this piece of advice from an older practitioner:

    “The most important thing that a you as a doctor can tell them – provided that the baby is growing well,” he said, “is that they are doing a great job!” It doesn’t matter how many ounces you feed the baby, or where you let him sleep, or whether you choose baby-led weaning or parent-directed feeding. There are so many ways of child-rearing, and they are all correct. The most important part of these well-child visits, he explained, was to pat the demoralized, sleep-deprived parents on the back and encourage them to keep on keepin’ on – at least for another eighteen years.

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • mt – Thank you for your kind words! I think that “voice” is essential, and I’ve got to work to keep that in my writing as I work on the book. In a way, the book format should really allow me to develop that, maybe in a deeper way than the blog. It is one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about this type of writing vs academic writing. I have to be careful not to write a dissertation here:)

      I loved Bringing Up Bebe, too, and I’ve thought a lot about why it was such an enjoyable read. I like the memoir format, so if my book can be part memoir and part science, I think that might be a good mix. There is a surprising amount of information and insight in Druckerman’s book, but it never comes across as prescriptive or pushy. I think I’m learning that you don’t have to be pushy to be prescriptive to be helpful.

      Like

      December 12, 2012
      • mt #

        Yes, Druckerman’s book is deceptively conversational…the amount of research (scientific, historical, cultural) she did was impressive, but she doesn’t steamroll her readers with it. Still, being a researcher myself, I appreciated the bibliography, and followed up on several of her footnotes.

        One thing her book brought to light was how culturally inflected the science of parenting is. Science gives us so much information, but what we do with it can differ so drastically (I think this is especially the case with sleep studies), and for the most part that’s ok! Take infant nutrition. I believe the AAP recommends holding off on dairy until babies are 1 year old, but here in Denmark, my doctor encouraged us to put butter and cream in my (6 m.o.) son’s mashed sweet potatoes to help him gain weight! A Danish friend confirmed that most Danish babies get fatty dairy early on. The UK’s national health service takes a middle ground, and recommends low-fat dairy for weaning babies. (The NHS has a great web resource for weaning babies, by the way.)

        Like Druckerman, I’ve picked and chosen from the child rearing culture of my “host” country. My son, now 7 mo, gets dairy and sometimes naps outside, heavily bundled in his pram (Danes will talk your ear off about how important it is for babies to nap outdoors), but we don’t co-sleep or use a pacifier.

        I’m sure you’ll find a way to balance presenting information and encouraging readers to trust themselves to do what’s right for their families. Learning to trust myself was the biggest challenge.

        I also think

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        December 14, 2012
      • mt #

        oops, don’t know what that sentence fragment is doing at the end there!

        Like

        December 14, 2012
  10. “The most important thing that a you as a doctor can tell them – provided that the baby is growing well,” he said, “is that they are doing a great job!” It doesn’t matter how many ounces you feed the baby, or where you let him sleep, or whether you choose baby-led weaning or parent-directed feeding. There are so many ways of child-rearing, and they are all correct. The most important part of these well-child visits, he explained, was to pat the demoralized, sleep-deprived parents on the back and encourage them to keep on keepin’ on – at least for another eighteen years.”

    I wholeheartedly agree!!!! Being a mom has certainly changed the way I respond to my new parent-patients, for the better, I might add! 😉

    Congratulations on your book deal!

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Yes, I agree, too! And thanks for the congratulations!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  11. Devon #

    My absolute favorite parenting books, the ones I wished I had listened to from the beginning while ignoring the rest are Momma Zen. Last Child in the Woods, and Simplicity Parenting. I am so proud of you and can’t wait to read your book!!!!

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Thanks Devon! I have yet to read Momma Zen (I’ve heard great things about this one from other parents!) or Simplicity Parenting, so I’ll put those on my list. I loved Last Child in the Woods, too!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  12. help4yourfamily #

    Congratulations! There is fascinating work to be found with the folks who created Circle of Security and the work of Jude Cassidy (both attachment related). Best of luck to you in your work. I’ve enjoyed your blog and can tell they picked the right person for the job 🙂

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Thanks! And I’ll check out these books!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
      • help4yourfamily #

        Oops, I should have said, they are not books- Jude Cassidy does research at the University of MD and has some very fascinating attachment articles- but I’m not sure about a book. The Circle of Security guys need to write one but have done fascinating work with underpriviledged parents to teach them to build secure bonds with their children using an evidence based attachment intervention. Fascinating work. Best of luck 🙂

        Like

        December 12, 2012
  13. Sara #

    I read “Pink Brain, Blue Brain” and “The Philosophical Baby” and “Nurture Shock” before my son was born, and enjoyed them all.

    I read the Dr. Sears Baby Book early on and liked it at the time. I still think it’s a pretty good guide overall, but in retrospect probably could have used some alternate opinions/approaches in those first months– too much pressure. I think I also had “What to Expect in the First Year” but found its advice on things like breastfeeding unhelpful and downright wrong so often that I discarded it. That has been a big complaint of mine in general — so many baby books out there include really poor and counterproductive breastfeeding advice. My husband liked “A Father’s Guide to the First Year,” but it had the same problem.

    I can’t even remember which breastfeeding book I had, but I got most of my advice in that area from Kellymom.com and from a Livejournal breastfeeding group (still active).

    The Wonder Weeks was somewhat helpful, although I found it hard to understand how the stages differed from one another sometimes and wasn’t really clear how much of what they described was really based in any scientific evidence. Still, the basic notion of developmental leaps and stages is useful and reassuring.

    I read “The No Cry Sleep Solution” and found it interesting and informative, but the method itself seemed too difficult to follow. Anything that involves a complicated sleep log is pretty much a non-starter. I also read Weissbluth, and he was informative but totally unsympathetic and harsh. Couldn’t stand him. I liked “Sleepless in America” when my kid was a toddler.

    Oh, and don’t forget “Baby Led Weaning!.”

    More recently, I read “How Eskimoes keep their babies warm” and really liked it. And I follow Janet Lansbury’s blog pretty closely these days, because she’s really helpful with toddler behavior.

    I really read too much, don’t I?

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • No way you read too much! I loved NurtureShock, and it is the best example of a science-based parenting book that I’ve read to date. I could hardly put it down. I loved how they turned their descriptions of scientific experiments into fascinating stories. I haven’t read the other two, so I’ll add them to my list. I’m not sure that I’ll have time to write with all this reading!

      Parenting is personal, so it doesn’t surprise me that you found some sources to be totally unhelpful. I guess that I can’t go into this thinking that I can appeal to every kind of parent. What I am committing to doing is finding the most accurate information possible and being careful about leaping to conclusions based on my own biases. There’s nothing worse than reading a book and discovering a gross inaccuracy, then realizing that you trust nothing about that book anymore. Or finding such a glaring bias that you wonder what else in the book has been influenced by that bias. I’m trying to be honest about my biases, because goodness knows we all have them. Also, I think talking with other parents is key to finding a balanced approach.

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  14. Holly #

    I love your blog and your writing. Way to go on venturing out of your comfort zone and publicly announcing your goal. I’m so excited for you!

    Basically everything I read was only a little helpful as far as books went. I read two of Tracy Hogg’s books, Dr Sear’s Baby Book, Dr Weissbluth’s book, and Babywise as well as Babywise for PreToddlers. For the bad rap Babywise gets, there is actually some really good information in there and it shouldn’t be completely discounted. The most useful information I found in general was on blog sites like yours, Janet Lansbury, and Chronicles of a Babywise Mom and on forums.

    There were two big things that I really feel were missing from most books. One was how to listen to my heart / gut and how I could use that information. It took me a good 7-8 months to learn to listen to my child and how to listen to my child. Janet Lansbury’s site did wonders for me in teaching that regard. I only wish I had found it sooner. It helped me find my inner sweet, calm, peaceful, trusted, inner mommy-self.

    The other thing was that so much of the literature said, “most babies will fall asleep after about 15 min of being awake in the first couple of weeks.” My baby didn’t. he was up for 2+ hours on a regular basis. The doctor told us that some babies just didn’t need as much sleep. Now I know that wasn’t the case for our son. I didn’t realize it was my job to put him to sleep or how to put him to sleep in a gentle fashion – he didn’t “just go to sleep” if I held him or wore him or just let him be. He didn’t cry, but didn’t sleep either. All the books say things like, “you will be able to identify a tired cry vs a hungry cry by 4-8 weeks.” I didn’t! And he continually rooted so I would feed him. I ended up over-feeding and under-sleeping. So I turned to Dr Weissbluth and a “plan” from Tracy Hogg and those didn’t exactly work right for us either. Babywise taught me I was still keeping my baby awake too long. I love the ideas that Chronicles of a Babywise Mom offers on this. She is careful to set up good sleep habits, but she also has a good demonstration of balance when baby is going through different stages. She really listens to her baby and blogs about it so you know there are lots of options and you don’t have to worry about always or never using a prop. She shows specific times to have baby awake for every week of months 1-3 which can really get people on the right track.

    So in my opinion, the perfect book would offer:
    How to listen to your instincts and how to differentiate your instincts from what other’s tell you and how you were raised. It is always right to be nice and gentle (AP), there is no such thing as “tough love” (that actually works for a baby) and that crying is okay as long as the baby is held or cuddled.

    A brief description of the different labels people use for parenting – AP, RIE, Babywise, Love and Logic, etc and where to find more information on each.

    It would offer a guide to awake times that are appropriate for the different ages in the first year and explain that sleep doesn’t come easy for many babies. Crying can be normal. Identifying sleepy signs and signs of over-tiredness. Options for helping your child to find sleep and develop healthy sleep habits – including non-crib options whether that be a mattress on the floor like the Montessori and RIE methods or the family bed. Where to find a forum to get sleep help no matter which method people choose.

    Some basics on breastfeeding and bottle feeding and where to get information if you are finding either challenging. How to feed babies from a bottle (either breast milk or formula) without increasing their likelihood of obesity. How to feed the baby from breast or bottle while creating healthy eating habits (unlike many others, I do like EAS for that reason as well as the French way of doing it – that has really developed healthy eating habits for my son and I always felt I knew when to expect him to be hungry and wasn’t taken by surprise – usually I could take preemptive measures)

    Baby lead feeding and Baby lead weening vs traditional methods of introducing solids. Ideas of what solids to introduce first and why. Where to find more information.

    It would offer guidance about the development that happens in the first year, about when the changes take place and explain that these can be scary, painful, and exciting for the baby – all of that will affect how the baby sleeps, eats, and interacts

    I also would have loved someone to explain to me that my baby would only be a baby for 9 short months… then they really become more of a toddler. I didn’t realize that. I would have slowed down with trying to become a homemaker at the same time. I think it is good advice that I’ve seen to spend the first 6 weeks in bed with your baby – feed them, help them to get to know sleep in a positive way, cuddle them, and depend on a network of support (assuming you’re lucky enough to have one) to do everything else. Introduce them to the world slowly and take it easy on yourself. Especially for the first baby. You deserve it and so does your baby! I is a big change for both of you.

    I’m sure that’s more information than you probably wanted. I really look forward to seeing what you decide to write!

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • These are great ideas – thank you!
      I followed the EAS (eat, activity, sleep – that’s what you’re talking about, right?) routine – at least loosely for about the first 5-6 months of Cee’s life. I found it hugely helpful and actually not at odds with on-demand feeding. It just seemed to fit a natural rhythm for her. She was always hungry when she woke up and never seemed hungry at other times. I think that the predictability was helpful for both of us. At some point around 5 months, I started also feeding her before naps because she was finally starting to consolidate to longer naps and also having longer wakeful periods, and topping off before sleep helped her to nap longer.

      Your final piece of advice about how short the baby period is is also a great reminder for new parents.

      Like

      December 12, 2012
      • Holly #

        Yes, eat, activity, sleep – that worked so well for us! Reading your response reminded me of two other things that I questioned in my first year. 1) a lot of people say it isn’t healthy for a baby as young as 4 months to sleep 10-12hrs without a feeding. Although I understand the concern, it seems that it depends on the child – for our baby it seemed right since he pooped waaaaaay too much if we did a dream feed and he didn’t ask for food at night after 3 mos. So I’ve always wondered what is best for the baby. 2) I had lots of questions about discipline as young as 6-9 months and had a hard time finding answers. Eventually I learned a lot from the Janet Lansbury blog and forum and Dr Laura Markhma through her blog Aha! Parenting. Before finding those it seemed to be difficult to find answers that fit that first year.

        Like

        December 15, 2012
    • KT #

      Oh my, your description of the newborn stage and the total confusion that a baby who doesn’t go through the “honeymoon phase” was so right on for me. People kept telling me “keep your daughter awake a little after feeding” as if that would take work. I was desperately trying to get my one week old not to stay awake for six hours straight in the middle of the night! Life itself was so stimulating for her. Now that I’ve been there and done that I have an idea of how to handle the situation based on many of the resources you already mentioned, but at first it was so confusing. Here the books were telling me how to keep a sleepy newborn awake long enough to eat and I needed to figure out how to keep a stimulated newborn drowsy long enough to sleep!

      Also what you said on the differentiated cries was true for me. I stll have trouble with some of my little one’s cries, and it’s not for lack of detailed paying attention.

      Like

      December 18, 2012
  15. Amy @ You Shall Go Out with Joy #

    I think it is great that you are writing a book and I, for one, can’t wait to read it!

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Thank you! It is nice to hear that a few people will buy it!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  16. stuffandkids #

    Congrats.

    Like

    December 11, 2012
  17. Congrats!!!

    Like

    December 11, 2012
  18. Congratulations. As a librarian, I’m a huge fan of anything that gets more actual science out into the public for consumption.

    I’ve got a 7 month old and found that I didn’t read too many books about actual child rearing (just a ton about breastfeeding). I did really like the Baby 411 book though since it was very straightforward and clear. And it’s a good reference book for when we forget about what’s “normal” for some stage or new illness.

    Like

    December 11, 2012
    • Loved Baby 411, too!
      Our relationship with science as parents is funny these days, I think. We hear a lot about science of parenting in the popular press, because it sells. However, I think it is so often presented as the new holy grail, which of course changes every month or so. Parents either find it confusing or start to fear it – wondering what science will tell them they are doing wrong next. What is needed is perspective, I think. Science provides a wonderful way of understanding the complexities of life, even something so complex as parenting. However, we have to understand that scientific knowledge builds over time and that no one study should change the way we do things. And I think this generation of parents is truly interested in science. We don’t have a strong parenting culture in this country. Many parents are doing things quite different from their own parents. We need guidance, not dogma.

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  19. I’ve never commented (I don’t think) but I just had to when I saw this post! Congratulations on the book contract! I for one would look forward to your book greatly. There is a serious shortage of materials that new mothers can refer to for information about all things baby, that is written both from a parenting and scientific point of view.

    To answer your first question, the few books that helped me greatly in this far in my foray through parenthood include:

    Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child – I don’t subscribe to much of his methods as I’m not willing to let my child CIO and lean more towards the AP side of the spectrum, but a lot of the science I believe and depended on those facts to figure out how to help my child sleep well.

    The Wonder Weeks – no more pulling my hair out trying to figure out why my sweet baby became a clingy cranky devil seemingly overnight. It gave me useful and practical tips and tools to help my child get through the leaps and it also gifted me with the patience that can only come with knowledge to ride out the storms.

    French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon – THE most enlightening book I’ve come across regarding the topic of feeding children and indeed the whole family. It’s revolutionalised the way I look at food and meal times, and our family now eats better, healthier, and more satisfyingly than we ever have. Including my previously fussy 2 year old who never wanted to eat meat or fish. It’s lighthearted reading with funny anecdotes and practical advice that even my husband enjoyed.

    Beyond Baby Talk – I ordered it immediately after reading your review and it has been immensely helpful in understanding how my child was developing linguistically. Simple facts, clear examples and information that specifically answers our most pertinent concerns as parents. My husband is an English as a Second Language teacher and he has found the book great at laying out the important information clearly and in direct relation to young children.

    I’ve read lots of other books in my time as parent in a bid to try and figure out what’s best for us and our child. But these are the ones that have made lasting impressions, and that I would recommend to friends.

    I also read a few blogs all the time and benefit greatly from what in shared, including Janet Lansbury’s blog about RIE approach to parenting and yours of course.

    I think new parents would benefit greatly from a voice of experience that doesn’t sugarcoat important facts and messages. Anyone who picks up a book like yours will likely be looking for the science, the data, the facts, and how they relate to the everyday decisions we make as parents without trying too hard to be politically correct. Or at least that’s what I would like to see.

    Looking forward to hearing all about your book as you start working on it!

    Like

    December 12, 2012
  20. I’ve never commented (I don’t think) but I just had to when I saw this post! Congratulations on the book contract! I for one would look forward to your book greatly. There is a serious shortage of materials that new mothers can refer to for information about all things baby, that is written both from a parenting and scientific point of view.

    To answer your first question, the few books that helped me greatly in this far in my foray through parenthood include:

    Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child – I don’t subscribe to much of his methods as I’m not willing to let my child CIO and lean more towards the AP side of the spectrum, but a lot of the science I believe and depended on those facts to figure out how to help my child sleep well.

    The Wonder Weeks – no more pulling my hair out trying to figure out why my sweet baby became a clingy cranky devil seemingly overnight. It gave me useful and practical tips and tools to help my child get through the leaps and it also gifted me with the patience that can only come with knowledge to ride out the storms.

    French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon – THE most enlightening book I’ve come across regarding the topic of feeding children and indeed the whole family. It’s revolutionalised the way I look at food and meal times, and our family now eats better, healthier, and more satisfyingly than we ever have. Including my previously fussy 2 year old who never wanted to eat meat or fish. It’s lighthearted reading with funny anecdotes and practical advice that even my husband enjoyed.

    Beyond Baby Talk – I ordered it immediately after reading your review and it has been immensely helpful in understanding how my child was developing linguistically. Simple facts, clear examples and information that specifically answers our most pertinent concerns as parents. My husband is an English as a Second Language teacher and he has found the book great at laying out the important information clearly and in direct relation to young children.

    I’ve read lots of other books in my time as parent in a bid to try and figure out what’s best for us and our child. But these are the ones that have made lasting impressions, and that I would recommend to friends.

    I also read a few blogs all the time and benefit greatly from what in shared, including Janet Lansbury’s blog about RIE approach to parenting and yours of course.

    I think new parents would benefit greatly from a voice of experience that doesn’t sugarcoat important facts and messages. Anyone who picks up a book like yours will likely be looking for the science, the data, the facts, and how they relate to the everyday decisions we make as parents without trying too hard to be politically correct. Or at least that’s what I would like to see.

    Good luck!

    Like

    December 12, 2012
    • Cleo, thanks so much for your comment! It’s nice to hear from you:)

      It’s fascinating to me how many people in this thread have mentioned Weissbluth’s book. I also found that his background on sleep biology was very helpful, and I think it is great that so many parents found some value in this, even if they weren’t interested in the solutions he offers. I think that’s an endorsement for the value of information over advice.

      The Wonder Weeks has been mentioned several times, and I’ve never heard of it! Definitely adding it to my list.

      I don’t know how I have read French Kids yet. I read the first chapter online and have been meaning to read the book. I love Child of Mine by Ellyn Satter for feeding advice, but like most things, I think a broad perspective is very useful.

      I also really value what I’ve learned about the RIE approach to parenting from Janet Lansbury and Lisa Sunbury. It is so simple – though not necessarily easy – and it feels GOOD for my family.

      And I’m glad you like Beyond Baby Talk!

      Like

      December 12, 2012
  21. Alice! This is so exciting!!!! I’m so happy for you, and for all the new parents of the world who will someday get to read your book.

    The ones I remember reading with my first child were some of the Sears books (Baby, Breastfeeding) and Penelope Leach. I didn’t read any with baby number two, except for some sleep books that were not helpful.

    Keeping things concise is key. Mothers read in snatches between doing things. It might be helpful to have a topic-driven structure (sleep, breastfeeding, vaccines, first foods, sleep, did I mention sleep?), but to also have a visual quick-reference guide, like a timeline, with developmental stages and page numbers to find the subsection most relevant.

    Like

    December 12, 2012
  22. Congrats! Can’t wait to read your book! My favorite parenting book is “Brain Rules for Baby”. I love that it offers a synopsis of much of the scientific info out there, much like your blog! I read several parenting books but found that was the one that stood out as fun to read, relatively free of bias (I’m looking at you sleep books…), and positive.

    Like

    December 12, 2012
  23. Alice, Sincere congratulations on your book and best wishes in your new adventure. I can’t wait to read it! I’ve enjoyed many of the books people have mentioned- NurtureShock stands out among them. In terms of controversial topics, vaccines certainly tops that list for pediatrics. I found “Do Vaccines Cause That?! A Guide for Evaluating Vaccine Concerns” by Martin Myers and Diego Pineda to be helpful in that regard. I also liked “Origins” by Annie Murphy Paul and of course you already know I am a fan of Ellyn Satter.

    Like

    December 12, 2012
  24. Jenny #

    Congratulations! As a science nerd and mom, I’ve really enjoyed your approach to this blog. I would love to see comparisons between US and International research on parenting. I always feel like I learn the most when I learn about cultures that take markedly different approaches to parenting questions. It helps me to identify blind spots where things I assume are “natural” parenting practices are actually culturally defined.

    Like

    December 12, 2012
  25. dafarmer #

    First off congrats on getting signed for a book~~~

    I think I wanted to know a lot about being a preemie Mom first of all because I didn’t expect our little man to come into the world so soon. I wish I’d also known more about breastfeeding and how much it can take up my life. I enjoy it and I don’t want to push my son away even though he is beyond what the American Academy of Pediatric recommends I nurse him for. I also wanted to know a lot more about making my own baby food versus what the heck in in the jar foods. As the pros and cons of baby lead weaning/attachment parenting verses CIO and conventional parenting. As it stands so far for us I’ve used a little of all those techniques. We had to CIO but I’m doing child lead weaning as far as BF because I think he is just not ready to give it up yet even though he does drink cow’s milk.

    Like

    December 12, 2012
  26. Reblogged this on Baby & Kids Clothing For Momz & Dadz.

    Like

    December 14, 2012
  27. Heidi Rabbach #

    This is wonderful news! And I can assure you that I will buy your book as soon as I can get my hands on it! I love your blog and believe strongly in the liberating approach you take on those hot topics. It helped me relax and I am sure there are countless other parents out there waiting to stumble upon your book because they wouldn’t stumble upon your blog.

    The most helpful book recommendation I got during pregnancy was Polly Moore’s “The 90 Minute Baby Sleep Programme”. I loved it for the same reason I love your blog: It’s a scientist mom writing from both her experience as a mom and her knowledge as a sleep scientist, without the usual judgement and guilt on any other approach. And knowing about this 90min rhythm in babies made all the difference for us. With our second baby on the way I will probably try to obsess less about this and be more relaxed but I know that this will still be our guide.
    I can’t wait for your book to be published!

    Like

    December 14, 2012
  28. Cool, good luck with your project.

    As far as I know, there’s no good book on pre-existing diabetes (as opposed to gestational) and pregnancy. I could have used one. The advice given to diabetic women is often not well-understood by the people giving it; and in my opinion, GD is seriously over-diagnosed.

    Like

    December 17, 2012
    • Thanks! I agree that there is a dearth of information for pregnant moms with pre-existing diabetes. That topic is beyond the scope of this book, I think, but it’s something I could think about in the future. My postdoc was actually on the effects of diabetes in pregnancy (pre-existing and gestational) on the fetus, and I’m fascinated by this topic. Why do you think GD is over-diagnosed?

      Like

      December 17, 2012
  29. Alison Merlo #

    Congratulations! I am so excited for you. I wish it was coming out sooner though…I am expecting in April.
    Alison

    Like

    December 21, 2012
  30. How exciting! I better say this first that I’m looking forward to read your book. I found out that books for first time parents are more confusing rather than helping. If you read a book or two before giving birth then you’d have the idea of how things should be. The baby arrives and the reality kicks in. In your head you keep telling yourself this isn’t how things should be as your baby trying to “teach” you how it should be. Reading books after giving birth doesn’t help either. Sleepless night and tiredness aren’t good friend of reading. But then as a parent I do want to know how to be a parent (especially in the first year) and I don’t want just listen to what everyone got to say. I’d like to do my own research and have some sort of knowledge in mind to be a confident mother. I need to read some books. Here are parenting books I’ve read so far:
    ❤ Dr. Sears – Attachment Parenting
    ❤ Elizabeth Pantley – No Cry Sleep Solution and No Cry Nap Solution
    ❤ Dr Marc Weissbluth – Healthy Sleep Habbit
    ❤ Gina Ford – From Crying Baby to Contented Baby
    ❤ Dr Tony Waterston – Your Babycare Bible
    ❤ Annabel Karmel – Baby and Toddler Meal Planner

    I have two more books on my list but they’re rather religious (I’m a Christian).

    Hope all goes well with your book and again I’m looking forward to read (yet) another parenting book.

    Like

    December 23, 2012
  31. I recently (today) started reading your blog and there is nothing better than writing about children. Unfortunately, I never read a book about how to be good parent, or what to expect when you have a mini-me. If I could go back and read a book…I would want the honest truth. Such as, expect to get pooped/peed on, each parent pretends to be asleep, and don’t be surprised if you see your wife on all fours with a breast pump hanging from their breasts because milk wasn’t coming out (true story!). Be honest!!

    Like

    January 2, 2013
  32. Monika #

    To me, there is not enough information for me to share and educate parents, as I am a teacher in a Parent-child class, with parents of children birth to three, about the importance of warmth. Not only the warmth of our being, but the importance of keeping a baby sufficiently warm. I see so many baby heads not covered by a hat while the parents have one on. Babies lose so much heat through their heads, and their bodies have to work so much harder to try and maintain that warmth. Anyway, I can go on and on. Don’t know that there is much scientific works in this area, but its just good motherly advice. If you look at lots of old time pictures of babies, they all wore hats.

    Like

    January 9, 2013
  33. Congrats on your new endeavor! I started following your blog last year when my husband I were expecting twins (our first kids). I find your writing very insightful, informative and heartfelt (thus the blog following). I bet your book will be great!

    Our twins are 4 months-old now and it’s been quite an adventure, so far. Before they were born I read/skimmed several books pertaining to parenting multiples as well as “Eat Sleep Poop” by Scott Cohen.
    http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Sleep-Poop-Common-Sense/dp/1439117063
    It’s written by a Pediatrician Dad and had helpful, common sense advice that helped me know some of what to look for and expect, but not worry too much about (i.e. if poop is any color other than black, white, or red, your baby is OK – I might have been concerned about every shade of yellow and green if I hadn’t learned that ahead of time)

    We have a Dr. Sears’ “Portable Pediatrician” book as well as “What to Expect in the First Year”… These helped us decide if we should panic and rush to the doctor or just wait something out. I feel like I’ve read just about all of kellymom.com with regards to the benefits of breastfeeding & breastmilk. I’ve also read parts of “Happiest Baby on the Block” (this trained us to help calm two crying babies when nothing else worked!) and “Mother Food” (helps me feel like there are things I can do to support milk supply)
    http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Food-Breastfeeding-Lactogenic-Depression/dp/0979599504/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358454217&sr=1-1&keywords=mother+food

    In general, I think that when I understand what is (or could be) going on with my kids, either physically or developmentally, I feel more empowered as a parent. Hope this helps!

    Like

    January 17, 2013
  34. nicola jones #

    You should check out ‘Bumpology’ – the science of pregnancy and birth, just published! It’s by Linda Geddes, a science journalist living in London.

    Like

    January 31, 2013
  35. formfunctionbaby #

    Good for you! I have tried to keep it simple with parenting books. Things get overwhelming fast. I found “Bringing Up Bebe” oddly comforting during my pregnancy. Yes, children can sleep, eat vegetables, and have manners. I also liked “Montessori from the Start.” I will be writing a full blog entry about books very shortly, please check it out at https://formfunctionbaby.wordpress.com.

    Like

    February 8, 2013
  36. Great idea! I hope your book is going well. I am also an aspiring writer, with a science background, and two young children.

    In dealing with my son’s sleep issues, I have had some success with the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg. I have had so many parents insist the only way to deal with sleep issues is to “Cry it Out.” I wasn’t convinced, and saw that the science disagreed. That book offers a practical solution that worked for my son.

    I get very frustrated trying to filter out all of the unsupported medical “advice” and pseudoscience floating around the internet and my friends and family.

    Best of luck! I am going to follow your blog!

    Like

    March 2, 2013

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