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Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five

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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  3,622 ratings  ·  424 reviews
What's the single most important thing you can do during pregnancy? How much TV is OK for a baby? What's the best way to handle temper tantrums? Scientists know.
In his New York Times bestseller Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina showed us how our brains really work--and why we ought to redesign our workplaces and schools. Now, in Brain Rules for Baby, he bridges the gap between
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ebook, 294 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Pear Press (first published September 21st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Melissa
John Medina writes about babies & their brains in an easily accessible style, full of folksy anecdotes about his wife & sons. This makes it hard to talk smack about his book but I think I'm going to regardless.

I guess it's not his fault that most of the people who read this type of book & actually have children are so apt to be dismayed by the arbitrary ways they have failed their kids, but he certainly provides a lot of unsubstantiated ammunition. For example, near the beginning of
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Rebecca
Medina is simple, direct, and interesting as an author. He does a nice job at splicing up research from a variety of fields and areas for the lay reader, such as myself. (Although, the academic in me would have liked the research better cited with a bibliography at the back of the book.)

It seemed to me that a lot of the research he refers to is not new and has been cited in Blink, Nurture Shock, Drive and other recent, popular, non-fiction books. Despite this, I didn't mind revisiting it in th
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Justin
One of the more overwhelming aspects of impending parenthood, I’ve discovered, is the infinite amount of advice people would like to give you. Searching for a book on pregnancy and parenting leads one to vast, candy-colored landscapes of literature, with each book insistently tugging in a different direction. It’s nearly impossible to separate fact from opinion, largely because most parenting "facts" boil down to opinions, anyway. This book caught my eye because it offers parenting advice within ...more
Lisa Nelson
First, in full disclosure my kids helped out in the viral video for this book. You can check it out here:

http://brainrules.net/brain-rules-for...

That being said, I'm not getting anything besides a free book that I picked up on the set for writing this review. This is a well written, reader friendly parenting book that ever parent should own.

This is a book that I will be keeping and referring back to often. The author gives tons of practical tips throughout and then sums everything up at the end
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Abigail
This book should be required reading for anyone who's expecting or has a child under age 5. Plain and simple, this is the best collection of parenting advice I can imagine, because it's completely research-based. You don't worry that it's just a bunch of tips from parents who had easy babies and so anything happened to work, because Medina's a brain scientist, not just some parent. He's also a brain scientist who actually uses what he knows about the brain to make the book interesting and easy t ...more
Abbey
This was a good read. Essentially there is very little correlation between the standard IQ test and a person's sucess and happiness in life. Medina suggests other things that are actually linked to sucess. One of the biggest seems to be emotional IQ. I found his book to be very thoughtful but also practical. I love reading about research but I love it more when I know how to use it! My biggest takeaway is that people who can label their emotions are better at dealing with life and therefore happ ...more
Susanne
By far the best book on parenting that I’ve read. Medina screens all of his content through a “grumpy scientist” filter, which means that if it hasn’t been proven, he doesn’t include it – or he notes that the information is still being studied. Therefore, I trust what this book has to say; it is not 276 pages of anecdotal advise based on personal experience or hearsay. More importantly, it squares with my understanding of how to raise children. The pleasant surprise for me is that the very hard ...more
Adam Floridia
Once others find out that you're having a baby, you can expect to be bombarded with the same question ad nauseum: "Are you excited?" Stupid question really (assuming you were trying to conceive in the first place). However, my standard, and most honest answer was "I'm excited to be excited" since there's really no immediate change and it certainly doesn't sink in right away.

As corny as it may sound, after reading this book my answer will now be "Yes, I am excited." The author does a wonderful jo
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Courtney
Jun 01, 2012 Courtney rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Amber and Heather
Recommended to Courtney by: Nichole
This book had a lot of useful information, quite a bit of which has been included in other books I've read but I still found it an interesting read.

Bullet point ideas/thoughts that are completely disjointed because that's all I have in me right now:

*Praise effort more than intelligence

*Think about how to best help friends with a new baby-it's too easy to become isolated, which when you combine with severe sleep deprivation and total exhaustion, is not healthy

*Talk talk talk to the baby

*Integrat
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Christine Hill
This book was very balanced and not as crazy as it sounds. The smart part was less important than the happy part, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The research Medina uses is relevant, although I had heard about many of them before. But he synthesizes it all in a very easy to understand way. Although I wouldn't say there is anything in this book that is truly a surprise or revolutionary, it reaffirms my understanding and commitment to how I'd like to raise my child. It's nice to know rese ...more
Lisa
I really enjoy reading books about how the brain works......such a fascinating thing that we have in our heads! It was interesting to read about how different parenting techniques can make a difference in a child's brain development. I also liked the author's writing style - he's a scientist but wrote in a very approachable, sometimes funny, way.

The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because half the information wasn't new to me (I had read it in other parenting books) and I don't like it
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Meghan
I do not have kids. But, I am a nanny of 2 boys under the age of 3, and I was feeling the pressure to do a wee bit of research on the best way of going about discipline, talking to them, feeding them their veggies, and controlling tantrums.

I'm usually not much of a non-fiction gobble-upper, but I was with this one. So fascinating! So easy to follow! So much of it just seems so...second nature? Obvious? But it isn't until we read the way he puts it, that it just clicks. I also adore reading non-f
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Guillermojimenezespneo
Este es un libro que todo padre madre está obligado a leer. Debería ser obligatorio leerlo en la prepa. Toda madre padre deben aprenderlo de memoria y presentar un examen con cero errores antes de practicar cualquier actividad sexual que sea potencialmente embarazante. Junto con como practicar sexo seguro en ambos sentidos, uno para prevenir las enfermedades de transmisión sexual, las cuales si practicas sexo seguro serían como las meningitis bacterianas en los niños pequeños, o la lepra, la pes ...more
Peter
Fascinating look at the research surrounding babies' brain development. The author discusses practical things parents can do to raise smart children, happy children, and moral children. I strongly recommend this to any expectant parent or parent of young children. Unfortunately, despite claiming to be a"gumpy scientist" who only accepts studies that have been rigorously peer-reviewed and replicated, the author frequently explains in terms of fantastical evolutionary imaginations. For instance, t ...more
Akzcookin
I was 20 when I gave birth to my son. How I wish this book (and the research it is based upon) had existed then. I cared for my son as best I could, but I was ignorant in so many ways.

But, being a grandma is giving me a second chance to be a better caregiver. I learned something on virtually every page.

Face time not screen time, providing a structured and safe, but not stifling play environment and being empathetic to teach and encourage empathy are the stand-out lessons that I'm already implem
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Elli Pope
I absolutely loved this book. The author does a good job of pointing out not only the studies that have been done to support the data he presents, but also calls out when studies are weak and potentially inconclusive. He's pretty clear on when the information he presents is scientifically proven or merely anecdotal evidence.

Everything he talks about makes a lot of sense on a very fundamental level. I particularly enjoyed the information on parenting styles and the effect that different types of
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Shaun
I'm surprised at the high ratings this book has received. Frankly, I found it to be full of mostly filler, with the actually useful pieces of advice to be easy to summarize in just a few paragraphs.

Let me quickly note the takeaways from this book (in part so I can reference them in the future):
- Praise your child's effort. IF you praise his intelligence, he will see failure as beyond his control.
- Tag your child's emotions. It is easier for a child, or anyone, to cope with their stress if they
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Cayla
This book is filled with a lot of great information on how babies' brains develop while in the womb and after they are born.

As someone who wants to teach my child French, I found the information on language acquisition particularly interesting. Babies cannot learn language from TV; they need the human interaction of a person actually speaking to them to learn language. This shows how social babies and people are.

The book also cautions against TV before the age of 2. After 2, TV time should be
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Becky
I loved this book!! I have read many parenting books, and this one brings a whole new spin to the subject. There were many aha moments - I am an experienced parent if 5 children ages 18 months to 14 years old-- and this book helped me understand child development better, and how certain parenting strategies work in a child's brain development as they learn and grow. Things I have learned through trial and error (and more) are very clearly explained with practice advice on how to raise a smart, h ...more
Edward Tse
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
B. Rule
As parenting books go, you could do a lot worse than this one. The book is framed as a no-nonsense approach by a neuroscientist describing scientifically vetted parenting approaches. In practice, Medina often describes certain things as far more established by the evidence than even a cursory Googling will tell you (e.g., Tools of the Mind curriculum). That said, most of the advice is commonsensical and anodyne (chiefly, show a lot of empathy, verbalize your feelings so your child learns to name ...more
Lindsay
There were a lot of interesting suggestions in this book, but not all of them made sense. For instance, Medina talks about how there are a lot of things parents can't control that affect their child's intelligence, but there are some things they can. And then he mentions morning sickness. Apparently women who get morning sickness are more likely to have intelligent children. My question is this: how exactly does a woman give herself morning sickness? As far as I know, that's not really something ...more
Lana
A very interesting book with good advice. Written by a scientist who is actually a father - both of those help greatly in writing about the science of how a baby's/kid's brain develops and what factors can influence that development. The book has a lot of practical advice which I intend to get back to once our baby reaches certain milestones. The style of writing is really appealing and not at all condescending - mixed with the author's own experiences with his family which do reflect some of th ...more
Carrie Rose
This is one of my favorite books in this genre. Maybe that's mostly because the author spent a lot of the book confirming things I already believed, but he backed up his claims with a lot of research. I have a strong preference for books that don't try to get parents to cram information into their babies' heads. I like the approach of focusing on a child's emotional well-being and letting the rest follow.

I wouldn't recommend this book for someone whose children aren't young. It would probably be
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Kim
I usually write reviews almost immediately after reading a book (this was an audio book...so I listened to it). Somehow, the good feeling that I got when I was listening to it has worn off in the last few weeks.

While John Medina uses a lot of facts and scientific evidence to back all of his advice, his family stories come across as somehow too perfect. He is an optimistic person, but I don't feel like he wants you to believe there are any difficult parenting days.

I also feel like some of his a
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Eva
Kindle quotes:

Researchers recommend that pregnant women eat those 12 ounces from sources possessing less concentrated mercury (salmon, cod, haddock, sardines, and canned light tuna) as opposed to longer-lived predatory fish (swordfish, mackerel, and albacore tuna). - location 682


For fit women, the second stage of labor—that painful phase where you have to do a lot of pushing—lasts an average of 27 minutes. Physically unfit women had to push for almost an hour, some far longer. - location 781


We k
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Erika RS
What do the best supported scientific studies have to tell us about how to raise a smart, moral, happy child? Not as much as the shelves upon shelves of parenting books would imply.

Brain Rules for Baby focuses only on the parenting advice that can be backed up by research. As Medina points out in his conclusion, whether you're concerned about baby's intelligence, morality, or happiness, or your relationship with your spouse, much of this research comes back to two key principles: the importance
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Malin Friess
I figure for Oliver's sake, I needed a refresher. Some information I learned:

-A preschool child demands some kind of attention 180 times per hour (I think my second child can double that figure!).
-Marital Quality peaks in the last trimester of pregnancy and then falls 40-90% during the first year of your child's life (related to sleep deprivation, baby blues,unequal work distribution)

What gives a baby a smart brain?
-50% is genetic
-impulse control (can I wait to eat the marshmello) is a better p
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Rachael
I think I meant to put a different book on hold at the library and so I was surprised to see this on the hold shelf with my name on it. I took it home and it sat in my room for maybe 6 months or longer. I feel like I failure when I return library books without reading them so I picked this up the other day and I could not put it down! Baby brains are truly fascinating things to learn about. I don't agree with this author on everything, like video games (which are awesome and some are probably go ...more
Trevor
As a young father who has largely avoided the litany of parenting books on the market, I didn’t know what to expect from John Medina’s Brain Rules for Baby. Purchased on a whim at the recommendation of a friend, the book sat on my shelf, unread, for several months until I realized that my somewhat laissez-faire style of parenting probably wasn’t in the best interests of my children – my 15-month-old son and a baby daughter in the oven. Devouring its contents in about a week, I am very glad I had ...more
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DR. JOHN J. MEDINA, a developmental molecular biologist, has a lifelong fascination with how the mind reacts to and organizes information. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School" -- a provocative book that takes on the way our schools and work environments are designed. His latest book is a must-read for pa ...more
More about John Medina...
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“Ethan’s parents constantly told him how brainy he was. “You’re so smart! You can do anything, Ethan. We are so proud of you, they would say every time he sailed through a math test. Or a spelling test. Or any test. With the best of intentions, they consistently tethered Ethan’s accomplishment to some innate characteristic of his intellectual prowess. Researchers call this “appealing to fixed mindsets.” The parents had no idea that this form of praise was toxic.

  Little Ethan quickly learned that any academic achievement that required no effort was the behavior that defined his gift. When he hit junior high school, he ran into subjects that did require effort. He could no longer sail through, and, for the first time, he started making mistakes. But he did not see these errors as opportunities for improvement. After all, he was smart because he could mysteriously grasp things quickly. And if he could no longer grasp things quickly, what did that imply? That he was no longer smart. Since he didn’t know the ingredients making him successful, he didn’t know what to do when he failed. You don’t have to hit that brick wall very often before you get discouraged, then depressed. Quite simply, Ethan quit trying. His grades collapsed.


What happens when you say, ‘You’re so smart’

  Research shows that Ethan’s unfortunate story is typical of kids regularly praised for some fixed characteristic. If you praise your child this way, three things are statistically likely to happen:

  First, your child will begin to perceive mistakes as failures. Because you told her that success was due to some static ability over which she had no control, she will start to think of failure (such as a bad grade) as a static thing, too—now perceived as a lack of ability. Successes are thought of as gifts rather than the governable product of effort.

  Second, perhaps as a reaction to the first, she will become more concerned with looking smart than with actually learning something. (Though Ethan was intelligent, he was more preoccupied with breezing through and appearing smart to the people who mattered to him. He developed little regard for learning.)

  Third, she will be less willing to confront the reasons behind any deficiencies, less willing to make an effort. Such kids have a difficult time admitting errors. There is simply too much at stake for failure.

   

  What to say instead: ‘You really worked hard’

  What should Ethan’s parents have done? Research shows a simple solution. Rather than praising him for being smart, they should have praised him for working hard. On the successful completion of a test, they should not have said,“I’m so proud of you. You’re so smart. They should have said, “I’m so proud of you. You must have really studied hard”. This appeals to controllable effort rather than to unchangeable talent. It’s called “growth mindset” praise.”
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“People view their own behaviors as originating from amendable, situational constraints,but they view other people's behavior as originating from inherent, immutable personality traits.” 2 likes
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