Tag Archives: education

Doulas should be covered by health insurance.

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Yet another research study has come out showing that having a doula improves women’s birth experiences and reduces their risk of complications during birth. This is the first study, though, to show that health insurance companies are likely to save money overall by covering doula care. The original study was published by Birth, and you can access it here.

NPR has an excellent write-up on the study and some of its implications here.

We had doula support for each of my births, and I will always strongly recommend a birth doula (and a postpartum doula, if at all possible), for all parents, especially first-timers. Our daughter’s birth doula barely made her birth because it happened so quickly, but she was still a hugely important presence in the pre-birth planning, and talking with her about some of my anxieties and getting her feedback made my daughter’s birth easier both mentally and physically. I’m confident that the doula who supported us during my son’s birth was instrumental in helping us avoid an unnecessary Cesarean, and she provided empathetic and careful counseling when I had trouble breastfeeding him after we were discharged from the hospital.

Doulas are worth it, insurance should cover their services, end of story.

Book review: 1, 2, 3… the Toddler Years: A Practical Guide for Parents & Caregivers by Irene Van Der Zande and the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center Staff

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Let’s move away from baby sleep books for a little while and take a look at discipline! I know, it’s a subject everybody dreads, but I am firmly in the camp of seeing discipline as a way of teaching a child how to be happy and productive while living in a society with other humans. Discipline is not punishment for behavior we decide we don’t like, but rather a way to set limits on behavior to keep a child safe and happy. When you view discipline as a way of teaching, it’s much easier to remember that you and your baby are a team, working together to learn about the world and how to function within it. Every parent has an off day, (and so does every baby!) but it’s easier to get back on track when you realize that you and your kids are in this together.

van-der-zande-123For parents of older babies and toddlers, I really do recommend 1, 2, 3… the Toddler Years: A Practical Guide for Parents & Caregivers by Irene Van Der Zande and the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center Staff. When I first read this, my son was definitely showing that he had his own ideas about the world, and we were encountering some of the upsets that come along when you discover that your toddler has different opinions about how to spend his time than you do. I wanted a book that had practical methods of discipline based in communication. I don’t want to coerce my kid into doing something through trickery, but rather to establish a relationship based in honesty and open communication. I understand that trickery is more or less necessary occasionally, but I’m not personally interested in approaching my everyday relationship with my child that way.

Anyway, the Santa Cruz Toddler Center is a daycare set up along the philosophy of Magda Gerber, who’s famous for RIE, which is a child-rearing approach designed around respecting childrens’ autonomy, individuality, and ability. You can read more about it on their website here. I personally find the philosophy part a little out there for me at times, but I think the practical result of the philosophy is just great. And 1, 2, 3… the Toddler Years is all practical stuff, with a lot of situational examples and scripts, which I kind of need when my son is screaming at me because I wouldn’t let him play with an electrical socket.

Another important reason that I recommend this for other parents is that it’s an extremely quick read. The book is relatively short, the text is clear and direct, and it’s well-organized. It’s perfect for parents who need some help with discipline, but don’t have time to read a book the size of a dictionary. It’s a great find!

Got a book you’d like me to review? Leave a comment with your suggestions or email me.

Book review: Your Child’s Growing Mind: A Guide to Learning and Brain Development from Birth to Adolescence by Jane M. Healy

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Before I became a mom, I didn’t have a lot of experience with kids, especially little babies. Being an academic, I dealt with that by doing lots of research! Now I’m a mom of two babies under three years-old, and I know what I’m doing a little more. By reading so much, I’ve come to the realization that there are some terrible child-rearing books out there! Luckily, there are also a few that are actually helpful. I’m hoping that by sharing some reviews of these books with other parents, I can help guide you toward resources that are worth your time, or at least help you avoid the really terrible stuff!

So, let’s jump right in with our first book!

healy-yourYour Child’s Growing Mind: A Guide to Learning and Brain Development from Birth to Adolescence by Jane M. Healy

Let me be honest here – I don’t know where this book came from. I probably found it at the Good Will. But, I have a background in the liberal arts and don’t know a lot about how kids learn or how brains grow. That’s important stuff to know!

This book is a few years old now, but it does what it says on the cover. Jane M. Healy reviews how the brain develops from birth through the teenage years, and examines how to best promote learning for kids of different ages. Healy is a long-time educator who strongly believes that kids will learn concepts on their own as their brains mature, and that adults can foster or hinder this learning, but not force it to happen before a child is ready. She also includes a lot of resources for parents with children with learning or other disabilities, including how to work with teachers and schools to develop plans for childrens’ specific needs.

I really liked Your Child’s Growing Mind overall. It was easy to read and pay attention to, and I learned a lot without getting weighed down by overly technical or academic writing. My main gripe with this book was in its organization. The information is great, but individual chapters didn’t seem to know where they were going or what their main point was, and that was distracting to me, and occasionally outright confusing. Still, I felt like the book was worth reading for me, and I am looking forward to reading more of Healy’s books in the future.

Got a book you’d like me to review? Leave a comment with your suggestions or email me.