Brain Rules for Baby- (Book Review Pedcast)

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


Brain Rules for Baby

by, John Medina

Pear Press 2010


Welcome to another edition of Thanks for tuning in today. We bring you portable, practical pediatrics.  For those of you who are new to the blog, I am Dr. Paul Smolen, a general pediatrician with currently 31 years of experience. Today I am going to continue in my “book review series” with the help of my very capable intern, Angela Solis, a recent Davidson College graduate. We are going to review a book that many parents, and parents to be, will find interesting… Brain Rules for Babies: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five author John Medina.  The title says it all. What parent wouldn’t want to read this book… to learn the biological secrets to parental success?  The author, Dr. John Medina, finds wisdom in the current research about what makes a successful pregnancy, infancy, toddlerhood and preschool years. He also posses an interesting question for his readers to ponder: When did raising perfect and outstanding children become a priority over raising emotionally happy and relationally intelligent child? So sit back and hear a perspective on parenting from a developmental molecular biologist who speaks to parents on these issues, using personal parenting stories interwoven with information extracted from a myriad of established scientific sources.


The book focuses on brain development in children ages zero to five and how experiences during this development influences their adult lives.  Here are some of the main themes that run through the book:

-Healthy lifestyle habits during pregnancy strongly affects infant outcome. A fit, well-nourished, unstressed mother is ideal.

-The quality and quantity of an infant’s relationships are crucial to his or her resiliency and success in later life.  He argues that sensing and meeting a child’s needs, especially in the first three months of life, is paramount to a child’s ultimate success.

-A child who is attached to his parents, whose needs are being met, and is secure, is much more likely to be curious and willing to explore and learn.

-And finally, Dr. Medina lays out what he believes current research indicates about appropriate, predictable, discipline in toddler and preschool age children.


The chapters are well written and effective; smooth language, personal stories, and explanations of every scientific term engage the reader and help the reader understand technical information. The introduction of the book contains a list of common parenting *myths such as the common belief that exposure to Mozart will increase a child’s IQ and refers the reader to the appropriate area of the book to find the answer. This allows readers to jump the topics that most intrigue them, while not feeling completely disjointed from the rest of the book. While the subjects discussed are abstract in their content, Dr. Medina brings it down to the practical, even including a summary of the major points in boxed form at the end of each chapter.  If you are looking for concrete advice, you have come to the right place.


Dr. Medina’s Brain Rules for Babies does present limitations for some readers however. Only readers with a strong interest and curiosity will be capable of reading this book. It assumes a level of sophistication that not every reader has. We also think that the book is best suited for expectant and new parents.  For those of us with older children, Dr. Medina’s Brain Rules may end up creating more anxiety and guilt than helpful advice.  Additionally, the book sets a very high mark for parents that few parents will achieve.  If your prone to self criticism, this may not be the book for you.


On balance, we think this is a good book for sophisticated parents, especially, expectant parents with a lot of curiosity. Practical, well written, and informative is our description. Dr. Medina’s writing style projects comfort and a friendly tone that provides information that can help any new or expecting parent. We give it 4 of 5 DocSmo stars. *For more information see


As always, comments are welcome on my website or on iTunes or Facebook. This is Dr. Paul Smolen broadcasting from studio 1E, that’s the first child’s bedroom on the east side of the house, hoping you think it’s pretty cool to learn about a new baby brain rule.  Until next time.