Book Review: Brain Rules for Baby


When I was pregnant, I was busy preparing myself to have a natural birth. I kind of always had that goal for myself, and I made sure to read a few books about how to prepare for the birthing.  We were blessed to have an amazing doula to help us as well. So, while I did a decent job of preparing myself to birth naturally (which I did, and I am so glad everything worked out so perfectly), I did not do such a great job at preparing myself for after the baby had come. We had all the stuff we needed- a crib, clothes, etc., but I didn’t read a ton about being a mom, or parenting, or anything like that. Which I should have.

So one day after my husband had returned to work from his gracious three-week paternity leave, I felt up to going to the library to seek out some parenting advice. It is so hard to pick out parenting books. They all kind of look the same, and yet different. Since this is our first baby, I don’t really know which parenting styles I agree with. Anyways, I picked out two or three books that looked good, along with a novel to keep myself occupied while I nursed.

Some of the parenting books were very unhelpful, so I returned them right away. But one of the books I picked out was titled “Brain Rules for Baby” by John Medina. I feel like this book is very well written, so easy to understand, and the author combines brain science with parenting and gives really good advice I think (sinceI haven’t had a chance to try most of it out yet). I just finished the book last week, and I think I will order a copy to read again and write notes in.  

Behind each of his “brain rules,” Medina explained the scientific reason for it and includes many studies to support his views. He also gives specific examples, and teaches through stories. This makes it easier to remember and to learn things rather than just reading a list of facts. He starts out with rules for pregnancy. Then he writes a chapter on relationships, followed by how to make your baby smart, happy, and moral. For each of the last three chapters (smart, happy, moral chapters), he explains both the impact of nature and the impact of nurture on the baby/child’s developing brain.

I love the underlying theme of this book, which is empathy. Medina writes about the importance of empathy, and teaches how to use the “empathy reflex” in various situations, mainly when interacting with your child or spouse. This reflex requires you, instead of lecturing or yelling, to guess how your loved one is feeling. Then guess why they are feeling that way and vocalize all of your assumptions, and have a conversation rather than a yelling match or lecture. This way you can really connect with each other and avoid misunderstandings and fights. I think that practicing empathy with your family is such great advice. How easy is it to just get mad and snap at family members without really thinking about how they feel? This book shows many good examples about how to slow down and really think before speaking. Medina shows how doing this can help your marriage and your children’s development.

I am glad I ready this book, and I look forward to reading other parenting books like it. Hopefully I can learn some more good parenting tips before it’s too late!


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