I remember seeing Mayim Bialik a few years ago on What Not to Wear.
She had this bohemian-bag-lady look going on, and she reminded me of some of the women in my family: quirky and intelligent. I learned that she has a PhD in neuroscience. Then, several years later she showed up in the Big Bang Theory as Amy Farrah Fowler! She’s my favorite character.
(And, did you see the Valentine’s Day episode? Squee!)
I was in my first trimester of my twin pregnancy when her book, Beyond the Sling, came out. I mainly bought it out of curiosity.
I really liked her no-nonsense approach, and the way she rejects the gimmicks and consumerism of parenting (as our culture would have you believe).
According to Mayim, these are the true baby essentials
- a smooth birth (drug-free, vaginal when possible)
- milk (breastfeeding is natural, bottle feeding should mimic breastfeeding as much as possible)
- to be held (baby wearing is a biggie)
- nighttime parenting (no “crying it out” or sleep-training; co-sleeping or bed-sharing is appropriate)
- potty (also known as Elimination Communication)
And here is what baby DOESN’T need
- all that stuff (can I get an amen from MoMs everywhere?)
- unnecessary medical intervention (holistic remedies)
- pressure (“teaching” before baby is ready)
- punishment (positive parenting vs. traditional discipline)
(There’s also a section on what mommy does need, but that part wasn’t as interesting.)
If you couldn’t tell by her idea of what baby does and doesn’t need, Mayim is an advocate of attachment parenting. I really didn’t know much about it before reading the book, and I definitely think it’s a good “primer” in the logic of attachment parenting.
What I appreciated most about the book was the simplicity of her statements, backed up by science. But she writes in “plain English,” so it is easy to understand.
I particularly found the section on Elimination Communication intriguing, if not a little wacky. (At the time, I didn’t yet know I was carrying twins. I seriously contemplated EC, then discarded the idea at the thought of two diaperless newborns, then reconsidered and had an interesting couple of months!)
Positive doesn’t Equal Permissive
I also liked her section on punishment or rather, not punishing. She plainly explains why conventional discipline strategies like time-outs or threats are not effective, or why they work “for the wrong reasons.” She gives lots of examples of things to do instead and stories from her own children.
I enjoyed reading how the ideology played out for her family. There are many things that wouldn’t work for my own family, or that would be more challenging with multiples, but it was still neat to read about.
Give Yourself Some Credit
As with any book, this is not the answer to all your questions, nor is it a “quick fix,” and Mayim is the first person to tell you. I love that one of her first messages is that “you already know the majority of what you need to know to be an incredible parent.” What first-time mom doesn’t need to hear that? Now, as a parent of multiples, we generally need a little more logistical guidance, but when it comes to the meaty heart of parenting (or maybe its tofu heart, since Mayim is vegan), we should trust ourselves to make good decisions for our families.
For me, this book was an eye-opener and was kind of a “gateway book” into the world of attachment parenting. I would recommend it to anyone with an open mind who enjoys reading pieces that are straight-forward and scientifically backed.