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

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  6,002 Ratings  ·  598 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
ebook, 294 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Pear Press (first published September 21st 2010)
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Feb 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
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
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa Nelson
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, in full disclosure my kids helped out in the viral video for this book. You can check it out here:

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
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sondos Shapsogh
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so rich and full of information that anyone can benefit from. I didn't want it to finish. Very simple to follow and understand for someone who's not very familiar with neurotechnology. I understand that raising a child is much more complex than some data in a two dimensional book, but you'd still want to know the key elements that actually matter. It makes me want to buy copies of this and give it to anyone I know who's considering having kids. Lol
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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

Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un libro muy bien escrito sobre la importancia de alimentar el cerebro de un niño desde su nacimiento. Escrito con pulcritud por un experto neurólogo que lleva años estudiando el tema y que, a partir de sus investigaciones y experiencias propias concluye aquellos elementos que son fundamentales para ayudar a los padres a entender mejor el cerebro de nuestros hijos y por lo que pasan en sus diferentes etapas de bebés. Encima nos hace entender que no es necesario que sean genios, simplemente que e ...more
Christine Hill
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Adam Crossley
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book on how to raise a baby. Pretty all encompassing. Based on research. Easy to read.

The author is relentlessly optimistic and cheery. At times it got to be almost saccharine sweet. But that is forgivable. I wasn't reading this book for the joys of beautiful prose. I was reading to learn more about intelligent, research driven ways to raise my son, and it provided many of those in an easy to digest format.
Zach Gray
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for the sheer amount of information I came away with. I've never made so many notes in a book before. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist who navigates the research on the brain and behavioral development of children. The big themes of the book boil down to paying attention to your kid's emotions and responding with empathy.
Lesia Melnyk
Мені сподобалися усі ідеї і теми, що підняті у цій книжці. Правда, сподівалася, що сама вона набагато товстіша і об'ємніша. 😊 Але матеріалу для роздумів вистарчає.

Враховуючи виховання мене батьками - деякі речі для мене виявилися очевидними, просто набули більш структурованого та практичного змісту.

Деякі моменти, що відразу запали у пам'ять:

✔ Щаслива дитина = розумна дитина = вимогливість + чуйність

✔ Ніякого телебачення до 2 років

✔ Відеоігри самі по собі не впливають негативно на мозок - вони зм
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Allie Sumner
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was pregnant with my first child I worried about everything. Me and every pregnant woman ever. I wish I would of have this book! Almost every question I had as a soon to be mom is answered! Best part about this book is that if, like me, you don’t find it while pregnant, the information has a wide age range. I learned a lot and will be implementing new approaches to my parenting. My husband learned a ton too! This is a must have for both Mom & Dad!

The book is split into chapters and an
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Eric Moote
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: TEM professional parents, parents of new born, soon-to-be parents
Recommended to Eric by: Joshua
Shelves: parenting
Overall: a 4.5, but I rounded up for citing all his resources in the proper format.

"Brain Rules" is scientific study based summary of parenting styles and actions. Thought provoking, even if you don't agree with some of the studies' conclusions (read: open your mind to other possibilities, people).

"Brain Rules" is one of the first parenting books I have enjoyed reading. It presents research-based studies and talks about conclusions without being too science/research process heavy or being too p
An interesting glimpse into the science of baby psychology, from a researcher's perspective. I liked how the author evenhandedly approached controversial parenting approaches from a science-based perspective (Dr. Sears vs. Dr. Ferber with regards to infant sleep, for example), and while he admits that we don't definitively know everything about how the brains of young children work, he gives a lot of solid advice. My main critique would have to be putting a permanent ban on the author's use of o ...more
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Дуже важлива, корисна та неймовірно цікава книжка науковця, молекулярного біолога про наш мозок від самого зародження.
Наразі це найкраща книжка про виховання/батьківство з усіх, які я досі читала. Автор майстерно та захоплююче розповідає не лише про процеси, які відбуваються у мозку та їх вплив на наше майбутнє (від етапу вагітності), а й дає дієві практичні поради по вихованню розумної, щасливої та моральної дитини; розвінчує багато міфів (Моцарт не діє))), які зекономлять вам гроші та зусилля
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Elli Pope
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, non-fiction
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
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfict-kids
Fantastic! Started listening to another baby book (What's Going On In There?) with Eva-Lynn on a road trip, and it was far too dry, detailed, and impersonal, so we gave this one a shot. Excellent! It was read by the author, who seems like a really fun, jovial, smart, friendly guy. There is a lot of good, concise, evidence-based info, but with enough humor, anecdotes, and illustrations to make it a really enjoyable, informative read.
Stacy Schmidt
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Lots of great information about babies and their development. Includes information on the most current research regarding the best things you can do to promote positive qualities in your baby/child. It is well written and nicely organized. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is planning to have a baby or already has kids. Even those who don't plan to have kids would probably find the information in this book to be interesting.
Ioana Johansson
I've found it very interesting. I do not agree with everything Mr. Medina says but I do appreciate that he seemed to try very hard not to take sides in the diverse disputes arising from different parenting styles. Remains on the shelf and the bullet points at the end of each chapter will surely prove useful in the future.
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best parenting books I've read in ages--lots of amazing research combined with do-it-yourself suggestions. Some of the interesting research is shows that imaginative play in early childhood helps your child perform better in school than helping him learn the alphabet; how music lessons increase social success and friendships; and other cool things.
Katie Long
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up. Honestly, the best part of this book is the last chapter distillation. I hope to incorporate much of what he said. I do think he used science but drew inferences that were more reaching than the science currently shows. Ultimately, my takeaway was - be engaged with your children and they are more likely to be successful adults - pretty much common sense.
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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
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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.”
“Children have never been good at listening to their parents, but they have never failed to imitate them.” 3 likes
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