Book review: Brain Rules for Baby

Brain Rules for Baby is a recent book by John Medina, the NYT bestselling author of Brain Rules.  The book provides science-backed tips for raising smart babies, and it has received 5/5 stars on Amazon.com.  I’ll summarize some of the Amazon reviews, along with a separate, recent review, here.

The book provides the down-to-Earth science of raising smart babies.  While you shouldn’t expect to find any groundbreaking new research in the book, it’s probably good for the vast majority of people who like science but not enough to stay on the cutting edge (besides, the author wanted to present research that has been both peer reviewed and experimentally repeated).  Also — very importantly — it’s engaging.  Its table-of-contents is pretty descriptive, and you can get a summary of some of the main tips here.  At the very end I link to a summary of the book’s main points.

Because 5-star reviews are a no-brainer, I think it’s actually worth considering the least-positive of the Amazon reviews first.  The least-positive of the 33 reviews was the only one with three stars:

Valerie Avella (Tampa, FL) – See all my reviews
There are many books out on the market akin to “Brain Rules for Baby”, and I found this book to be rather pedestrian in its approach. For example, the author pulls many of his teaching points from an Internet site where parents write about their woes. Most of the concepts taught in the book are not new and are found in other books, which I found to be better referenced, written with scientific examples, and generally more interesting. I preferred “Nurtureshock” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, and “What’s Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life” by Lise Eliot.

By the way, those two books mentioned by the review both have 4.5/5 stars on Amazon, and have considerably more reviews than BRfB.  A four star rating of BRfB was this:

Jean Marrapodi “Jean Marrapodi” (Providence, RI United States) – See all my reviews

… I saw John Medina at a conference and was incredibly impressed with him… he wrote a book that helps [parents] be better parents, which will in turn, help their child mature and increase in intelligence. It’s the kind of book that’s great for parents of their first child who want to do things “right”; filled with the warm advice of a grandparent or wise pediatrician. I would have appreciated this 30 years ago when my children were toddlers, and suspect young parents today will too.

And that separate, recent review summarizes the book as well:

I like that he jumps straight into debunking the myths at the start of the book.. [such as] “to boost their brain power, children need French lessons by age three and a room filled with ‘brain-friendly’ toys and a library of educational DVDs”.

…To sum up his book, Medina has a chapter called Practical Tips in which he outlines his recommendations through pregnancy, relationship, smart baby, happy baby and moral baby.

…Is he saying anything new? Not really… However, he does present scientific and research-backed reasons to do what most of us already know we need to do, dished out in easy to understand, practical, usable nuggets.

What you can do:

At the very least, look at this summary of the book’s main points.  Consider this and some of the other books mentioned by the reviewers, and potentially add one or more to your wishlist.

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