Book Review: Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik, PhD

Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children The Attachment Parenting Way is available in stores today, March 6, 2012.

Beyond the Sling

I’ll admit that I was tickled and a bit star struck when I received an advanced copy of Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik, PhD. After all, the author is one of my favorite actresses. What I didn’t realize is that Mayim Bialik is much more than an actress, but is also a loving, informed parent and a very educated woman with a BS in Neuroscience and Hebrew/Jewish Studies and a PhD in Neuroscience.

Her book, Beyond the Sling, is not an attempt to tell others how to parent. Rather, Mayim Bialik has shared with us her personal experiences as a mom and what she has learned about parenting, as a scientist, a mother, and through much research. Although I have some strong opinions on parenting, I have never been one to tell others how to parent. For this reason, I really appreciate the approach of this book.

Beyond the Sling is a fantastic guide to birth and parenting, by way of the attachment guide to parenting. My first question when receiving this book was – What the heck is attachment parenting? In a nutshell, attachment parenting (AP), sometimes called “green parenting”, is guided by eight principles as described below (from the book):

1. Birth: Prepare for birth and become educated about natural birth options and their benefits for baby and mother.

2. Breastfeeding/breast milk: A human mother’s milk is the optimal food for human babies, and bottle feeding should mimic as many aspects of breastfeeding as possible.

3. Be sensitive: Respond sensitively to your children.

4. Bonding through touch: Use physical contact such as baby wearing, breastfeeding, and massage to convey tenderness, love, and affection.

5. Bedding: Parent your children at night as well as in the day, looking to safe co-sleeping as an option.

6. Be there: Ensure consistent parenting by a primary caregiver or a trained and sensitive substitute.

7. Be gentle: Use positive discipline, forgoing corporal punishment.

8. Balance: Balance your needs with those of your child.

These eight basic principles of attachment parenting are addressed in great detail throughout the book, along with the author’s practical and hands-on experience. This book is non-judgmental. You may read this book and be all-in for attachment parenting. Or, like me, you may agree or feel comfortable with some but not all of what is proposed. It’s the sort of book where you can take as much or as little as you want from it, and apply what you’ve learned to your own family. I personally appreciate the logic and science that has been shared in this book, explaining the reasons behind some of the parenting philosophies and techniques.

Babies don’t need schedules, parents do.

This book encourages parents to pay attention and be in-tune with with what their baby’s needs are, to not arbitrarily do what friends, family and professionals say you should do. There are some ‘hot’ and rather controversial parenting topics covered in this book, such as: holistic medical treatment, elimination communication, and discipline. You may not agree with everything you read in this book, but I feel certain you will come away with a better understanding and new-found respect of these parenting choices.

Not all her solutions will be right for every family. But Mayim says, “No matter how you birth your baby, feed your baby, carry your baby, or educate your baby, Beyond the Sling goes beyond the labels and perceptions about how certain parenting styles have to look. It is a philosophy about child-rearing and communication with your child that will last beyond their time in your arms and in a sling. This approach is about understanding your child’s needs, your needs, and the basics of human development — an attachment that will stay with you no matter what style of parenting you draw on.”

I have a son who is 25 years old, and know that before long he will probably be having a family of his own. Two of the things I will be sure to give him are a copy of Beyond the Sling and a sling style baby carrier. I highly recommend this book for prospective parents and parents with children of any age. It’s never too late to change how you parent.

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