Brain Rules for Baby


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

Want to make your baby a genius? There’s good news and bad news. The bad news: virtually all of the commercial products that claim to boost your baby’s IQ have no proven effect. The good news: there ARE things you can do that WILL boost your baby’s brain power and that are based on rigorous research. John Medina, who previously wrote Brain Rules, gives us the REAL scoop on what works and what doesn’t in the earliest years of a child’s life. Brain Rules for Baby is an engaging book that uses the latest neuroscience and behavior research to sort out why some kids are smart and happy, and others aren’t.

Learning in the womb?

Medina starts with pre-birth “education” by exploding a few myths and at the same time offering some intriguing indicators that babies DO process information before they emerge from the womb. First, he notes that there is no evidence that playing tapes to Mom’s abdomen will make the child smarter or able to speak foreign languages with more ease. No IQ-boosting claims of ventures like Prenatal University or Pregaphone have ever been validated by controlled scientific testing.

What IS true is that babies’ senses do develop while in the womb, and it’s possible to affect their later behavior. For example, research shows that babies react in utero to the food their mothers eat, and that after birth they exhibit a preference for those foods. They also hear sounds; Medina recounts the story of a conductor who, in rehearsing a new piece, found that he could lead the orchestra with barely a reference to the score. When he mentioned this oddity to his mother, a cellist, she laughed and said she had been rehearsing the same piece while pregnant with him.

Human interaction

Another key point made by Medina is the effect of real, human interaction with young children. Taped voices and videos have little or no impact, but a parent or someone else actually talking has a profound impact on learning. The huge industry that has sprung up to help parents create smarter kids is largely founded on what Medina considers a false premise: that a child watching a video or listening to a tape will improve their brain function.

I found Brain Rules for Baby to be both exciting and hopeful. For every bogus claim he demolishes, Medina offers research-based suggestions for truly effective strategies. The appeal of this book is due in part to Medina’s status as a dispassionate observer. Without a magic brain enhancer product to pitch, he can be refreshingly honest. Combine his emphasis on facts with an easy-to-read and engaging writing style, and you get a must-read book for any parent or parent-to-be.

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

  1. Jennifer says

    I smell a bestseller. This is exactly the kind of book that would have become my parenting bible had it been around when my kids were little. Every parent wants to know how they make their child smarter or happier.

  2. Roger Dooley says

    Jennifer, the cool thing is this book isn’t pushing any snake oil solutions. On the other hand, some parents are looking for a hands-off solution: plop the kid in front of a TV for 2 hours to watch a special video, and get get a genius. They are not going to find that kind of solution in Medina’s book. (That tendency is why magazines lead with, “Lose 15 pounds in two weeks without dieting!” instead of “Lose 15 pounds in two months with strict dieting and grueling workouts!”)


  3. Sash says

    I agree, the learning and brain development in the womb and continues from early baby stages.
    I must add that connection with the parents adds to it such is constant body contact.

  4. Marie says

    I find it interesting that “babies react in utero to the food their mothers eat, and that after birth they exhibit a preference for those foods”. However I also think its important to count the first 3-5 years as just as important. I didn’t have a very good diet when I was pregnant. It could have been a lot better – but while I was pregnant I started reading about nutrition and making changes then and over the first year of my son’s life. He is 3 and a half now and eats lots of fruits and vegetables. He prefers eating fruit to other things too. I think this stems from the fact that he sees what I eat, my breastmilk may have changed with my changing diet so he preferred sweet fruits and lots of veggies, as well as what is in the house. He has only been exposed, since birth, to an abundance of fruits and vegetables.

    I also definitely think human interaction is really important for intelligence. I think that society should be more accomodating to new parents so that they are able to be at home for at least the first year or so with their child and be able to give them lots of one on one interaction – not just for intelligence but for emotional stability too.

    Sounds like an interesting book though and I am going to purchase it. I love reading 🙂

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Sounds like you are off to a good start with your son, Marie! I think you’ll enjoy the book a lot. Good luck!


  5. Ernest @ weight loss drops says

    This is really interesting. I guess we need to be open about all these articles because we surely are going to get useful information like this one. I guess you are right about human interaction. It would be best if we let our child socialize with people to learn more from the people around them.

    Another one I think is just letting our child learn something by just giving them freedom to do something by themselves. Because I believe that they can learn from their experience.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.