Introduction to Brain Rules for Baby

This is an excerpt from Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina.  I have fallen in love with his book Brain Rules, and discovered the baby version on his website.  I wish the school system would read this and stop trying to stuff reading in five-year-olds like they are pate’ geese on the way to slaughter.

From the introduction.  See it here:

Scientists certainly don’t know everything about the brain. But what we do know gives us our best chance at raising smart, happy children. And it is relevant whether you just discovered you are pregnant, already have a toddler, or find yourself needing to raise grandchildren. So it will be my pleasure in this book to answer the big questions parents have asked me—and debunk their big myths, too. Here are some of my favorites:

Myth: Playing Mozart to your womb will improve your baby’s future math scores.

Truth: Your baby will simply remember Mozart after birth—along with many other things she hears, smells, and tastes in the womb. If you want her to do well in math in her later years, the greatest thing you can do is to teach her impulse control in her early years.

Myth: Exposing your infant or toddler to language DVDs will boost his vocabulary.

Truth: Some DVDs can actually reduce a toddler’s vocabulary. It is true that the number and variety of words you use when talking to your baby boost both his vocabulary and his IQ. But the words have to come from you—a real, live human being.

Myth: To boost their brain power, children need French lessons by age 3 and a room piled with “brain-friendly” toys and a library of educational DVDs.

Truth: The greatest pediatric brain-boosting technology in the world is probably a plain cardboard box, a fresh box of crayons, and two hours. The worst is probably your new flat-screen TV.

Myth: Telling your children they are smart will boost their confidence.

Truth: They’ll become less willing to work on challenging problems. If you want to get your baby into Harvard, praise her effort instead.

Myth: Children somehow find their own happiness.

Truth: The greatest predictor of happiness is having friends. How do you make and keep friends? By being good at deciphering nonverbal communication. Learning a musical instrument boosts this ability by 50 percent. Text messaging may destroy it.

Research like this is continually published in respected scientific journals. But unless you have a subscription to the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, this rich procession of findings may pass you by. This book is meant to let you know what scientists know—without having a Ph.D. to understand it.

Day 1: Isabel Lorraine is Born!

I awoke this morning at 6:59 a.m. to a pain that hurt like a terrible menstrual cramp and ran down the insides of my legs.  Considering how many false alarms I’ve had with painful contractions, I considered that this too might not be real.  However, the pain was real enough I could not go back to sleep.  I lumbered out of bed and went to the bathroom.  In the bathroom, I started having very real, very painful contractions.  I called out to the others in the house, but they were asleep.  I was having gastrointestinal problems because the night before I made the mistake of eating cheese pasta with truffles.  I knew better.  I am allergic to milk.  Not just intolerant, but allergic.  This means that if I drink milk or get its protein in cheese or other things, I get allergy symptoms and severe gastrointestinal upset.  However I had smelled the truffles in this pasta and they were so heavenly, I thought one small scoop would not hurt.  It did.

As I sat there having contractions and going through the unpleasant side effects of eating cheese, I knew this was it.  I finally was able to get up and go tell Daddy to set up the birthing tub.  I then tried to straighten a few things in between contractions.  At 7:30, I gave up bothering to try and time them and called the midwives.  The contractions were hurting so much by then I couldn’t function when they were happening.  The tub was filling slowly, but I decided just to get in.

The contractions were intense and painful, so close together there really wasn’t any breather in between.  I begged anyone and everyone to make them stop.  I was not one of those serene women, suffering in silence.  I moaned and groaned.  My hips were hurting because the muscles were so stretched from walking around pregnant for 42 weeks.  I finally had the urge to push and at 9:19 a.m., September 26, 2009, Miss Isabel Lorraine was born.

I cannot stress enough the pleasure of having our baby at home.  As quick as my labor went, I don’t know how we would have made it to the hospital without more torturous pain anyway.  Yet after the birth, our experience compared to the birthing center in a hospital experience was so different, so mellow, so peaceful and wonderful.  My little baby was with me the entire time.  She was weighed and measured on our bed.  She snuggled closely skin to skin with a blankie wrapped around her.  She found my nipple right away and started suckling.  Perfection!

Milla was so enchanted with the entire experience.  She video-taped and helped keep the dog out of the way.  She was right there the entire time.  Mostly the midwives, Daddy, and Milla just stood to the side providing encouragement.  I did not want to be touched, but was grateful they were there. After she was as delighted with her sister as we were and could not wait to hug and hold her.  She is as in love as we are.

Isabel weighs 9 pounds, 1 ounce, and is 20.5 inches long.  A big baby!  She looks like a little peach.  Her face is round and perfect, her hair soft and blonde.  I am completely in love.