Zero to Five 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science and What I ve Learned So Far

by Tracy Cutchlow

Author Tracy Cutchlow Isbn 9780983263364 File size 2MB Year 2014 Pages 212 Language English File format PDF Category Family and Friendship The coolest and easiest book for new parents Parents magazine Pregnancy Newborn baby Partway through parenthood with a toddler or preschooler No matter your stage you could use more calm more confidence You could read dozens of parenting books on pregnancy baby sleep picky eaters child psychology child development potty training and discipli

Publisher :

Author : Tracy Cutchlow

ISBN : 9780983263364

Year : 2014

Language: English

File Size : 2MB

Category : Family and Friendship



ZERO TO FIVE. Copyright © 2014 by Tracy Cutchlow.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Requests for permission should be addressed to:
Pear PressP.O. Box 70525 Seattle, WA 98127-0525 U.S.A.
This book may be purchased for educational, business, or sales promotional use.
For information, please visit www.pearpress.com.
FIRST EDITION
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication has been applied for
ISBN-13: 978-0-9832633-6-4
Designed by Nick Johnson/Cima Creative
Printed in China
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

70 Essential Parenting Tips
Based on Science
(and What I’ve Learned So Far)

T R AC Y C U T C H L OW
Photos by Betty Udesen

CON TEN TS

Prepare
Peace and quiet, please (at first)

6

Bolster your friendships

7

Eating for two? Not exactly

9

Exercise thirty minutes a day

11

Sing or read to your belly

13

Stress less

14

Share the chores equally

16

If you’re suffering, get help

20

Expect conflict as a couple

23

Know you can’t truly be prepared

25

Envision baby all grown up

27

Love
Prepare to be amazed

30

Create a feeling of safety

32

Comfort newborn with the familiar

34

Cuddle with baby

36

Get in sync

38

Smile, hug, encourage

40

Include baby

41

Z E RO TO FI V E

Talk
Speak in a singsongy voice

44

Talk to your baby a ton

45

Read together

50

Say, “You worked so hard!”

53

Teach sign language

58

Plan playdates in a second language

61

Sleep, eat & potty
Guard your sleep

65

Guard baby’s sleep, too

67

Help baby sleep better at night

69

Give baby chances to self-soothe

72

Crying it out, for a time, is fine

75

Preserve preschoolers’ naps

77

Make bedtime less crazy

80

Be laid-back about breastfeeding

82

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

85

Let baby decide how much to eat

88

Offer the opportunity to potty

90

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Play
Let baby touch that

93

Save the box

94

Make music with baby

96

When kids snatch toys, wait and see

99

Play at self-control

102

What makes a great playroom

107

Make-believe

108

Nurture creativity

111

Ask “Why?” and “What if?”

113

Connect
Ask for help

116

Choose empathy first

118

Create more ups than downs

120

Know your child

122

Hold weekly family meetings

126

Put down your phone

128

(Almost) no TV before age 2

130

A little TV after age 2

132

Make screen time social

136

Allow mistakes, discomfort, and boredom

139

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Discipline
Be firm but warm

142

Follow four rules about rules

146

Emotion first. Problem second.

149

Label intense emotions

151

Teach instead of punish

154

Consider the consequences

160

Plan ahead to avoid trouble

163

Rock your routines

165

Call a calm-down, not a time-out

167

Ask, “Can you think of a better way?”

170

Move
Rock, jiggle, and swing

173

Keep moving

175

Slow down
Be still

180

Don’t bother to compare

183

Work part-time if you can (maybe less)

185

Be more, do less

187

Z E RO TO FI V E

About Tracy
I’m a former journalist at the Seattle Times, editor of the bestselling books Brain Rules and
Brain Rules for Baby, and mom to one precocious 2-year-old. I like to think I’m a recovering
perfectionist, but I still do way too much research on every little thing. I’m a city girl who
loves to be outdoors. I’m staying home with baby, mostly, until either of us decides to
renegotiate our contract. I live in Seattle with my husband, Luke Timmerman.

About Betty
Moments are special, don’t you agree? My role is to anticipate fleeting glances, nuanced
toe-curls and moist eyes that tell stories. I began using cameras in grade school, and I never
stopped. Visual storytelling has taken me to Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America,
and Israel. It also has deeply immersed me in the community of Seattle, where I worked for
two-and-a-half decades as a staff photographer at the Seattle Times before leaving to
pursue independent projects. I live in Seattle with my husband, Benjamin Benschneider
(also a photographer) and three very nice cats.

For Geneva, Baby G, Little Cheeky, Beautiful Baby
For Luke, my rock
For Mom and Dad, who did many of the things in this book

Where are the photographs?
This is a text-only version of the book created for devices that don’t like photographs
or large file sizes. To see the book in its full glory, please order the color version.

Z E RO TO FI V E

We parents have questions.
Lots of questions.
At least, I do. My husband and I had our first baby in our mid-30s, after months of
“should we or shouldn’t we?” We’d spent about fifteen minutes around newborns before
that point. Like many expecting couples, our preparation consisted of birth-education
classes. And research on diapers, clothing, and gear. (As avid cyclists, we had a balance
bike picked out as early as a baby swing.) These weren’t much help in how to raise a
baby. Unlike many expecting couples, I’d edited the childhood brain-development book
Brain Rules for Baby. Very handy! But, of course, no book can match the experience of
having a baby right there in your arms, crying or cooing. We had questions then, and
we have questions now.
Every parent I’ve come across has had challenges. The themes are similar, even if the
particulars differ: Doing our best for baby during pregnancy, even when we don’t want
to. (Giving up wine or coffee comes to mind.) Sleep. Comforting baby. Feeding baby.
Sleep. Getting out of the house. Getting a break. Keeping baby intellectually stimulated.
Keeping up with friendships. Sleep. Digital devices. Discipline. Sleep.
My husband and I are certainly no different. Our baby surprises us, delights us, concerns
us, and frustrates us. When she stumps us, I go looking for answers.
I ask friends. I talk with my mom. I search online, as my husband rolls his eyes. I like
to consider all the options! But soon I’m buried in opposing opinions (“Best thing
I ever tried”; “Didn’t work for me AT ALL”), vague parenting articles, and irrelevant
forum comments.
Then I’ll flip through the many brain-development and parenting books on my shelf,
accumulated while editing Brain Rules for Baby or writing this book. I pore through
studies, staring at sentences like “Briefly, trajectory methodology uses all available
developmental data points and assigns individuals to trajectories based on a posterior
probability rule.” All are filled with what seems, post-baby, like a very large amount
of very small type.
And I think: it would be nice to have one inviting, just-tell-me-what-to-do, open-toany-page collection of parenting’s best practices, based on what the research says.

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I N TRO DUCT ION

Z E RO TO FI V E

This is that book. The wonderful images were captured by photojournalist Betty Udesen.
We met in 2001, when we worked together on multimedia stories for the Seattle Times.
I asked her if she’d work with me on this book, and I feel very fortunate that she said yes.
Where do I get off writing a parenting book? I’m not a neuroscientist or a childdevelopment expert. Instead, I’m drawing on my fifteen-year career as a journalist to
help me assess the scientific research and distill it into something readable for tired
parents. I’ve sprinkled in anecdotes from my own life. Not because my experience is
vast, and not because it will be exactly like yours, but to give you an idea of the fun,
weird, funny, tough moments that make up parenting.
I’ve focused on baby’s first five years because they involve an incredible amount of
change. When it comes to mobility, language, empathy, and motor skills, you can’t tell
the difference between a 30-year-old and a 31-year-old. But the difference between
a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old? Remarkable. Amazing. Fascinating. Crazy. More than
90 percent of brain development takes place in those first five years.
So, these early years matter. We’re setting baby up for success. And we’re establishing
our philosophies as parents, which will carry us well beyond five years. The themes in
these pages—love, talk, play, connect, discipline, move, slow down—are as important
at 2 months old as they are at 2 years old, 5 years old, 15 years old, and even 50 years
old. We’re all human.
This book is rooted in research. I don’t provide a citation within the text for every
study, but all of the references are online at www.zerotofive.net. In trying to answer
questions, researchers account for all kinds of variables, and they filter out bias as
much as possible. It’s the best guide we’ve got.
Still, social-sciences research rarely can give us absolute truth. Here’s one example:
say researchers are trying to determine whether music lessons make preschoolers
smarter. They do a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard. This means they
randomly assign half of the kids to take music lessons (the intervention group) and
half not (the control group). They administer cognitive tests to both groups of kids
before the music lessons and after. How reliable are the results?
Variables include the number of kids the researchers can afford to include in the study,
what type of music class they choose, who teaches the class, how many weeks or months
the lessons go on, and how frequently or intensely the kids train. Not to mention how
many kids drop out of the study along the way, how soon after training the kids are

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retested, which tests the researchers use, to what extent their analysis attempts to
rule out other potential causes for the results (usual suspects include parents’ income
and IQ), whether previous studies lend credence to the results. And so on and so on.
On top of that, even when the results of a study have been confirmed many times over,
they still may not describe your child. If a study concludes that infants need fourteen
hours of sleep a day, well, some infants in the study slept eleven hours and some
slept nineteen. In the final report, statistics describe the median—and any individual
child may fall outside of it.
Not only is every child different, but every parent is, too. All of these are reasons you
may follow a piece of advice and get a different result, or not follow a piece of advice
and get the same result. You just have to try things and see what works for your baby.
Use this book as a guide, both to starting down a good path and to staying on the path
you choose. Enjoy the photographs. (Don’t worry—none of our homes look this tidy
when a photographer’s not coming by.) Don’t feel the need to follow all seventy tips,
either. Once baby arrives, as much as you can, relax.
I know we all have lots of questions. But in the process of writing this book, I found
what we’ve all known all along. What really matters in parenting are the big things:
being responsive to baby’s needs, truly being present when you’re together, talking
to baby a ton, being firm but warm in discipline, lots of hugs . . . and sleep.
This book is about how to do those things, which will help you lay the foundation for
raising a pretty great kid: smart, happy, social, emotionally healthy, moral, curious, loved.
Best of luck to both of us.
Tracy
www.zerotofive.net

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I N TRO DUCT ION

Z E RO TO FI V E

Prepare
Pregnant women tend to have a long to-do list.
Put “weekly massages” on the list, and don’t fret
about the rest. Baby’s needs are minimal: a couple
key nutrients, whatever sleep and exercise you
can manage, and low stress. Spend your time
cultivating friendships.

Peace and quiet, please (at first)
Can you turn your embryo into a genius in the womb?
No. For decades, product manufacturers have preyed on vulnerable parents-to-be: give
birth to a smarter, calmer, more attentive baby who can already spell!
It started in 1979 with Prenatal University, a twice-daily program in which you pressed
your pregnant belly while teaching your fetus words such as “pat,” “shake,” and “rub.”
Then came the Pregaphone, which amplified your voice into the womb so that you
could communicate even earlier with baby. You placed a plastic funnel on your belly
and spoke into a mouthpiece connected via a tube. Today’s descendants include a belt
that emits heartbeat sounds. You wrap it around your pregnant belly for two hours a
day to train your fetus to discriminate sounds. The claim: it will “enrich your unborn
child’s forming cognitive, empathic, and creative skills.”
Lured into the marketing copy, you can’t help but wonder, “What if it really does
work?” Save your money. No commercial product that claims to boost the braininess of
a developing fetus has ever been scientifically proven to do anything useful.

Baby’s needs are simple
Perhaps baby is too busy to bother with any interference from products. In the first
half of pregnancy, baby starts creating her first brain cells—neurons—at the crazy
rapid rate of 250,000 per minute. In the second half of pregnancy, the brain begins
connecting those neurons, creating 700 synapses per second in the first few years
of life. All baby needs at this stage is the nourishment you provide by eating well,
exercising, and reducing your stress.

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Bolster your friendships
We tend not to live near our families, and who pops over
for tea anymore when there’s txt msgs and Facebook?
We’re increasingly isolated. But taking care of a baby is one thing you should not try
to do alone. Parents need the emotional and practical support, and babies benefit
from exposure to plenty of people. Social isolation can stress you and your marriage,
in turn creating an environment harmful to baby.
You’re going to need help. And it’s up to you to make sure you get it.

You’ll need friends to . . .
• bond with while your babies, preferably the same age, play together.
• watch baby while you sleep, shower, get a pedicure, or just do whatever.
• bring you dinner in the early weeks, when you won’t want meals to involve much
more than finding a fork.
• babysit, so you and your partner can have a regular date night.
• join you for girls’ night or guys’ night.
Apart from your existing friends, family, and neighbors, where can you find these people?
Plan dates with other parents-to-be from your childbirth education class.
Join a social group for new parents on meetup.com.
Ask around your neighborhood. You might be surprised by the number of resources for
new parents. My neighborhood, for example, has a message-board group for parents,
a yoga studio with prenatal and mom & baby classes, a café with a baby play area, a
children’s museum, classes for parents (breastfeeding, babywearing, bitch sessions),
classes for babies (music, movement, swimming, story time at the library), new-parent
support groups, and parents’ nights out hosted by churches, community centers, and
baby gyms. Before baby, I didn’t know most of these existed.
Talk to strangers. Strike up a conversation with another parent or parent-to-be at the
park or grocery store—as simple as “Aww, how old is your baby? What is she doing
these days?” or “How are you holding up?” Share something honest. Don’t pretend
everything’s perfect and perpetuate the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves.

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Then, don’t leave without exchanging contact info: “Hey, let me give you my e-mail
address.”

TRY THIS

Before baby, invite your dearest friends over for a cooking party, and stock up on freezerfriendly meals. Nourishingmeals.com has ideas for new moms.
As your due date nears, sign up with an online meal registry. This is a huge help in organizing
the visitors who, bless them, offer to bring you hot meals.

7

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Eating for two? Not exactly
When you’re pregnant, everyone wants you to eat a lot.
“Are you having a craving?” my husband would ask eagerly, ready to make a late-night
snack run. “Here, finish these,” friends ordered, pushing the fries in my direction.
“Go for it,” colleagues said as I went for seconds or thirds. “You’re eating for two!”
Eventually a couple things sank in:
• You may be eating for two, but one of you is very, very small.
• You need only 300 extra calories a day in the first trimester. And only 350 extra in
the second trimester. (That’s one eight-grain roll at Starbucks.) And only 450 extra
calories in the third. (A couple of oranges with your roll.)

A better way to think of “eating for two”
Focus instead on providing baby with two key nutrients:

FOLIC ACID
What it does: cuts risk of neural tube defects by 76 percent
What it is: vitamin B9
How to get it: leafy greens (spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, lettuce), legumes (beans,
peas, lentils), sunflower seeds, prenatal vitamins
When to eat it: four weeks before conception and during the first four weeks of pregnancy

OMEGA-3S
What they do: aid normal brain development. Babies whose moms got enough
omega-3s (300 mg of DHA per day) were better at memory, recognition, attention,
and fine motor skills at 6 months old.
What they are: essential fatty acids (ALA, DHA, and EPA), part of the membranes that
make up a neuron
How to get them: Eat at least twelve ounces per week of oily fish with low concentrations
of mercury. Flaxseed oil isn’t converted by the body efficiently enough. Algae-derived
DHA capsules (600 mg per day) have potential but are less studied.
When to eat them: Now. Then keep it up.

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THE RESEA RCH

In a study of twelve thousand women, the less seafood women ate during pregnancy,
the greater their risk of having children with verbal IQs in the lowest quartile at 8
years old; behavioral problems at 7 years old; and poor social, communication, and
fine motor skills in the early years.
The researchers concluded that any mercury you’d ingest from twelve ounces of fish
per week is much less problematic than missing out on the omega-3s from the fish.
“We recorded no evidence to lend support to the warnings of the US advisory that
pregnant women should limit their fish consumption,” the researchers wrote.

less mercury
Salmon
Shrimp
Sardines
Scallops
Catfish
Pollock
Tuna (Wild Planet)

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more mercury
Swordfish
King mackerel
Tilefish
Shark

Z E RO TO FI V E

Exercise thirty minutes a day
If you work out, keep it up. If you don’t work out, start.
Doctors used to tell pregnant women to go easy on the exercise. Turns out they were
being conservative because so few studies had been done on exercise during pregnancy.
More recent research shows that exercise is so beneficial, it outweighs the miniscule
potential risk to baby’s health. Signs of risk to the baby don’t even begin to show up
until you’re exercising at a level that feels like an all-out sprint.

THE EFFECT OF EX E RC I SE O N BA BY

Exercise intensity

What happens to baby

Moderate or vigorous (20 minutes
of swimming, walking or running
four-plus days a week)

Baby’s heart rate, breathing rate, and
umbilical blood flow increase nicely
along with yours

Strenuous (A heart rate at 90% or
more of maximum; athletes who are
used to pushing their bodies very hard)

Baby’s heart rate and umbilical blood
flow dip—but return to normal within
2½ minutes

Benefits for mom and baby
Exercise benefits the brain, not just the body:
• Exercise increases blood flow, which stimulates the body to make more blood
vessels. More blood vessels give the brain more access to oxygen and energy.
• Aerobic exercise also increases BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a chemical
that grows new neurons. BDNF helps keep existing neurons going by making them
less susceptible to damage and stress.
• BDNF karate-chops the toxic effects of stress hormones, including cortisol. In turn,
baby’s stress-response system and limbic system can develop normally.

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Cardio beats weights
Strength training doesn’t affect the brain like aerobic exercise does. A combination is
great, but if you’re pressed for time and energy, go with aerobic exercise. Swimming
tops the list. The water supports your weight and disperses excess heat from your belly.
The exercise works your entire body. Even if you’re just bouncing along in the pool
during senior swim, you’ll feel so much better. Your impressively swollen ankles will, too.

Listen to your body
How much exercise is too much? Not enough research has been done to know for
sure. Maybe that’s why everyone says: Listen to your body.
I thought pregnant women weren’t supposed to go running or bicycling, so I cut back
on exercise when I got pregnant. Soon, I didn’t feel healthy. Mid-pregnancy, I went
back to my active lifestyle, respecting my mood in terms of how intensely I exercised.
I felt so much better. For me, around eight months pregnant was the right time to scale
back and just stroll around the neighborhood.

THE RESEA RCH

Pregnant women—not used to working out—began exercising four times a week for
forty-five to sixty minutes at a time. They started at about 12 weeks pregnant and
continued through 36 weeks, doing things like hilly walks and step aerobics. Compared
with women who didn’t exercise, the exercisers were more fit, fewer had C-sections,
and they recovered more quickly after delivery. In another study, women who were
28–32 weeks pregnant ran on a treadmill to exhaustion, and the babies experienced
only a brief blip in heart rate and blood flow.

D O I T N OW

What will you do for exercise? Be specific about the day and time.

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Sing or read to your belly
Newborns can recognize a song
or story they heard in the womb.
In a quiet place, pregnant women read a three-minute story excerpted from The Cat
in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. The women read out loud twice a day for the last six weeks
of pregnancy.
After the babies were born, researchers gave them pacifiers attached to machines
that could measure their sucking. Stronger sucking triggered audio of their mother
reading the story. Weaker sucking triggered audio of her reading an unfamiliar story.
The newborns sucked more strongly. They wanted to hear their story! (Or, at least,
its familiar rhythms and intonations.)
Your baby, too, likely will find familiar words or songs to be soothing. You can try
reciting them as soon as baby arrives.
While you’re still pregnant, don’t bother reciting anything to baby until your third
trimester. Before that, baby can’t hear you.

BILLION S O F BER RI E S FO R BL AC K BE RRY JA M BL E

My husband read Jamberry, by Bruce Degen, each night to my belly in the last couple
months of my pregnancy. Turns out baby can’t really hear dad’s voice before birth.
(We didn’t know!) Mom’s voice—resonating through and amplified by her body—
is what baby can hear over the din of whooshes, sloshes, gurgles, and heartbeats in
the womb. Still, my husband’s reading provided a lovely bonding time for us. And the
book became a favorite bedtime story for baby.

D O I T N OW

Which song will you sing? Which book will you read?

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