Tag Archives: Book review

Baby Led Weaning, by Rapley and Murkett (Book Review Pedcast)

Baby Led Weaning

by Rapley and Murkett

Vermilion Publishers-2008

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Baby-Led Weaning, Completely Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition: The Essential Guide―How to Introduce Solid Foods and Help Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater

Who would have ever thought that feeding an infant solid foods, the way your great grandparents did, would be a cutting edge medical controversy in the 21st century–but it is. So says the authors of Baby Led Weaning, by  British authors Rapley and Murkett. 20th century western society has been all about controlling the introduction of solid food to babies when it is time for them to get more that breastfeeding can offer. It is generally accepted that solid foods, also called complimentary foods, are needed by babies for good growth beyond six months of age. Standard 20th century dogma says that these first foods should be pureed and fed to the infant on a spoon, by his or her parents, introducing one new food at a time, without the addition of spices, salt, or added flavoring that would be normally added to the food.  Home cooked fresh foods were the opposite of what  babies were expected to eat for much of the 20th century America.

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Wonder ( Archived Book Review Pedcast)

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By RJ Palacio

Publisher- Alfred Knopf, NY


I was biking with friends recently, one of who is an excellent forth grade teacher named Mindy Passe.  We were talking blog as we whizzed through the streets of Charlotte, and Mindy mentioned a book that readers of my blog may find interesting.  The book is called Wonder, written by R. J. Palacio.  Mindy’s class read the book and discussed its themes, which both the children and the teachers found instructive.  I gave the book a read and in today’s pedcast, I am going to give you my opinion and insights about the book called Wonder, by RJ Palacio. Continue reading

Do You Believe in Magic, by Paul Offit M.D. (Book Review Pedcast)

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Do You Believe in Magic?: Vitamins, Supplements, and All Things Natural: A Look Behind the Curtain


Welcome to the DocSmo.com pediatric blog. I am your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, a practicing pediatrician and founder of the docsmo blog. Thank you for joining me today. Today, I am going to review an interesting book written by a well known pediatrician and vaccine expert, who authored  a book that analyses the alternative medicine  and supplement practices in the U.S..

Dr. Paul Offit, the author of Do You Believe in Magic, is a pediatrician and effective advocate for children’s health. He is a hero to many practicing pediatricians because he has been such an effective advocate for vaccines.  In fact, he is probably the most influential advocate doctors have to promote vaccines.  After reading Do you believe in Magic, I can now see why his foes in the anti-vaccine movement dislike him so intensely.  He does not mince words when he decides to criticize practices he does not approve of.  In Do You Believe in Magic, Dr. Offit challenges the biggest names in alternative medicine and politics, with biting pointed criticism of what he sees as mostly quackery and snake oil sales.


The foundation of  Dr. Offit’s book is his faith in the scientific method.  For Dr. Offit, a therapy is only effective if there is good scientific evidence of effectiveness.  Much of the alternative medicine world has no peer-reviewed scientific support and therefore, according to Dr. Offit, is useless …or worse.  Unfortunately, the world is not always so black and white.  Dr. Offit is very good at pointing out instances when reliance on alternative therapies have done great harm to patients, especially when treating famous patients like Steve McQueen and Steve Jobs, but he seems to give conventional medicine a pass on poor science that inflates the effectiveness and minimizes the side effects of western medicinal practices.


Do you Believe in Magic brings a strong point of view to the discussion of alternative versus modern medicine.  Since the majority of people in the U.S. now consume alternative therapies, be they herbs, vitamins, supplements, physical manipulations like chiropractry, or acupuncture, Dr. Offit has started an important discussion.  Even though his title claims to be a balanced look at alternative and complementary medicine, his blunt criticism and visceral tone are anything but balanced.  Magical theories of disease, unproven therapies, false hopes of cure that delay or prevent effective therapy can certainly do great harm as Dr. Offit is quick to point out.  On the other hand, emphasizing better nutrition, stress reduction, improved sleep, the healing power of exercise and meditation are good things that alternative medicine brings to the discussion and can provide healing where pills cannot.  Just because no one has done a double blind, placebo controlled study to prove that the child eating his or her salad everyday improves his or her health doesn’t mean that the salad can’t be helpful to their health. As parents are faced with ever increasing limitations on their healthcare spending, making wise use of these healthcare dollars is increasingly important. For those parets interested in healthcare policy and debates, Dr. Offit’s book is an interesting read. For those parents looking for practical advice and information about pediatrics, you need to look elsewhere. I give Dr. Offit’s latest book 3.5 out of 5 Doc Smo stars.


Thanks for joining me today. I hope you take a few minutes to explore the hundreds of interesting posts and articles I have on my blog, www.docsmo.com.  Until next time.



Nurture Shock, by Bronson & Merryman (Book Review Pedcast)

Help support DocSmo.com by buying this reviewed book using this affiliate link. You get Amazon’s best price and DocSmo.com earns a small affiliate marketing fee.  Thank you.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

Here we go. I’m once again firing up Studio 1E to bring my listeners another book review that will hopefully help you decide which books should be on your list to read. I’m your host and the creator of DocSmo.com, Dr. Paul Smolen, a real Board Certified pediatrician with 32 years of experience. I’ve got to tell you, I love doing these book reviews, and based the audience response, you seem to enjoy listening. Today, with the help of my brilliant intern, Angela Solis, we are going to review an interesting book called NurtureShock. So sit back, crank up the volume, and see what our thoughts are about this interesting book addressing today’s children.

While not exactly a traditional parenting book, NurtureShock is full of interesting and useful information that parents can use. It may even change some of your basic assumptions about children! Unlike previous books reviewed on my blog that featured discussions of subjects like discipline, sleep schedules, or nutrition for babies and toddlers, NurtureShock is an intellectual, research-based book about what makes children tick. This book is not for the parent looking for a solution to address a specific parenting issue, but rather for those readers wishing to gain insight into how children learn, develop, and function. Written by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, both journalists and writers by trade, this book is an overview of the latest developments in child psychology and development.

NurtureShock is actually a compilation of essays written on various topics from sleep, racial attitudes, lying in childhood, and sibling relationships. The book is well written and accessible to most readers although at times may seem dense with examples and citations from many pieces of literature and research. Fortunately for the reader, there is minimal scientific jargon to decipher. The book is well written and we are impressed with the extensive list of sources and references used to write this book. The introduction and conclusion give an overall look at the layout of the book, and the reader may choose to jump around from chapter to chapter without interrupting the narrative flow.

The “Shock” in the title comes from the many counterintuitive conclusions about children that recent research offers. For example, in a chapter entitled “The Inverse Power of Praise,” the authors conclude that praising children excessively may actually hinder their progress and development of key virtues like grit and determination. Research reveals that children who are told repeatedly, “You are so smart!” often shy away from more challenging problems in order to maintain their appearance of “smartness” and continue to please adults. So much for the boosting-self-esteem-at-any-cost theory.  The authors also conclude that even mild sleep deprivation in children can cause major cognitive impairment, that children lie much more often than their parents ever imagine, that free, unstructured play is vital to a child’s healthy emotional development, and that an accurate prediction of intelligence in young children is impossible, even if you have a PhD after your name.

Although not a parenting guide, this is an entertaining and insightful read about some of the newer research on child development and psychology. We do not recommend this for a busy parent looking for solutions to address a particular issue but would recommend this to someone interested in what recent science says on these topics. As the book title says, many of the findings are shocking and contrary to what adults would find intuitive. If you have a little extra time, be sure to pick up a copy of NurtureShock. We think you will enjoy it. We give it four out of five Doc Smo stars.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the many other book reviews posted in the book review tab at my website, www.docsmo.com.  Until next time.