I received a review copy of a really cool book over the summer: Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science (and What I’ve Learned So Far) by Tracy Cutchlow. I loved the book and wanted to review it on my blog, and the publisher offered to give away 5 copies to Science of Mom readers! (If you’re curious about my policy on reviews and giveaways, check my About Me page.)
Author Tracy Cuthlow with her daughter, Geneva.
Zero to Five is a book of parenting advice starting with pregnancy and going up through age 5. Author Tracy Cutchlow is a former journalist at the Seattle Times and edited John Medina’s books Brain Rules and Brain Rules for Baby. Then she had a daughter, now 2, and was inspired to create a book that would bring together relevant, evidence-based parenting advice into an enjoyable and accessible format. I’d say she succeeded.
Each of the 70 parenting tips are explained in 2-4 page spreads summarizing the research in the area and accompanied by gorgeous candid photographs of children and parents. The tips are practical, and they’re explained simply, but they’re rooted in science.
The book is divided into 9 topics headings, listed below with examples of some of my favorite tips in parentheses:
- Prepare (Bolster your friendships; Expect conflict as a couple)
- Love (Create a feeling of safety; Comfort newborn with the familiar)
- Talk (Talk to your baby a ton; Read together; Teach sign language)
- Sleep, eat, and potty (Guard your sleep; Guard baby’s sleep, too; Let baby decide how much to eat)
- Play (Let baby touch that; Save the box; Make music with baby)
- Connect (Choose empathy first; Allow mistakes, discomfort, boredom)
- Discipline (Be firm but warm; Label intense emotions; Teach instead of punish)
- Move (Rock, jiggle, and swing; Keep moving)
- Slow down (Be still; Don’t bother to compare)
Some of these tips are obvious, like talking to your baby. But they’re also really important, and that’s one of the things I love about this book. I think Tracy did a great job of focusing the book’s content on what is really important about how to care for babies and children. And some of these tips are things that I didn’t know or wouldn’t have thought about when I was newly pregnant, preparing to give birth to Cee. I was busy acquiring what I thought was essential baby gear (how many hours did I waste on Craigslist?), taking birthing classes, and ticking tasks off my to-do list. The advice to “bolster your friendships” (because you’ll need support) and to “expect conflict as a couple” (it happens to everyone) might have been very helpful in preparing to be a new mom, but nobody told me these things.
There are a few other things that I love about this book. I love that it is evidence-based. The book doesn’t include citations, and I know that some of my readers will miss that. But on the topics where I know the research really well, I can tell that Tracy stayed true to the science. I love that it emphasizes authoritative, respectful, and gentle parenting (again, supported by science) and provides some good examples from Tracy’s own experiences with parenthood. I also love how easy it is to flip through the book and just read one or two pages at a time, taking away a clear and simple message to try to implement as a parent.
One of the best and most unique things about this book is the photographs, taken by Betty Udesen. The photos are simply gorgeous. Now, I wouldn’t head to the bookstore thinking that I really needed a new parenting book with awesome photos, and the text of this book would make it great on its own. But the photos really add something special. They’re of real families who agreed to let the photographer into their lives to capture their everyday moments, and they feel very intimate. They aren’t generic stock photos. They each tell a story, and if you’re a parent, you recognize the chaos, mess, and beauty of your own life in these photos. The photos make the book a true pleasure to pick up and flip through, and your kids will enjoy looking at them too!
I’m really happy to recommend Zero to Five to all parents. It would make a fabulous baby shower gift, but I think it will still feel relevant even if your babies are a little older. I’m finding the baby sections to be good review in preparing for our second baby, and today I flipped through the pages on discipline again after Cee threw a tantrum that stretched me thin.
OK, so onto the giveaway. The publisher of Zero to Five, Pear Press, has offered to give 5 copies of the book to Science of Mom readers. Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below with one of your own favorite parenting tips – from pregnancy on up. What wise advice do you give to new parents or do you wish you’d received as a parent-to-be?
One entry per person, please, and unfortunately, we can only ship to addresses within the U.S. I’ll close the giveaway in a week – next Monday (9/29/14) at 9 AM EST – and choose 5 winners at random. (I always use a random number generator to pick from the ordered comments.)