While the title may give readers pause, former magazine editor Gallagher, a father of two who runs the site ExperimentingWithBabies.com, offers insights on infant development and parenting with a humorous twist. The experiments (testing cognitive, motor, social, and behavioral development) are perfectly safe for babies, with Gallagher advising that parents end an experiment if it causes their baby distress. Each experiment is explained in terms of age range, complexity, and research area; the experiment itself; the hypothesis; the research; and the takeaway. Occasional boxes feature “Tools of the Trade,” such as high-tech pacifiers or “Don’t Try This at Home,” like the Visual Cliff experiment. The author cites current research, much of it from the last decade, although classic work from practitioners such as Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky also appears. The heart of the book is not the experiments themselves, but takeaways that provide the new parent with developmental clues and suggestions for age-appropriate activities. Parents will appreciate these tips and Gallagher’s whimsical tone, whether or not they experiment on their own tykes. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Company. (Oct.)
"Experimenting with Babies is a wonderful book, giving parents a hands-on way to understand their baby's emerging mind. The experiments are easy, fun, and nicely annotated with the real science behind them. What a fabulous way for parents to get to know their new child!"
—Lise Eliot, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University and author of What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life
“With the marketplace urging parents to buy all manner of things to make their babies ‘smart,’ Gallagher’s book offers parents a view based in science on how much babies really know and figure out on their own. Parents will have fun with this book and gain new respect and awe for their babies’ amazing capabilities.”
—Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., H. Rodney Sharp Professor, University of Delaware and coauthor of How Babies Talk, Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, and a Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool
Former magazine and newspaper editor and father of two Gallagher (philosophy, Univ. of Central Florida; coeditor, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences) offers a fun text about "experimenting" on your baby. Some will naturally balk at the title, but this book actually provides a concise and relevant look at child development based on the literature from cognitive, motor, and behavioral research. Gallagher shows parents how to re-create accepted study findings by conducting brief experiments involving such innocuous activities as making faces, flashing pictures, and grasping items. These say nothing about intelligence but rather show healthy child growth, which should ease any worries rather than create anxiety. Age ranges, experimental complexity, and the areas of science relevant to the experiments are all outlined in full, with each test being two to three pages in length, often with illustrations. Finally, the research and its importance are described succinctly in one brief paragraph, followed by a "take-away" section that describes how to develop further the skills addressed. VERDICT This is a unique work that presents an enjoyable and intelligent look at child development. It is a graceful bridge between parenting and research and is ideal for anyone with a wee one.