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

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

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

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

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"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 discipline. Or you could read Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science.

Journalist Tracy Cutchlow cuts to the chase, summarizing the best parenting research in bite-sized chunks. She knows from her own experience with motherhood: new parents are too busy and sleep-deprived. One tip per page + beautiful photographs = cool + easy.
With the premise that science isn’t perfect, but it’s the best guide we’ve got, Zero to Five draws on scientific research and studies from experts such as Dimitri Christakis (screen time), Diana Baumrind (parenting styles), Adele Diamond (neuroscience and executive function), Carol Dweck (growth mindset), Alison Gopnik (child psychology), John Gottman (marriage and conflict resolution), Megan McClelland (executive function), Patricia Kuhl (language acquisition and brain development), Ellyn Satter (feeding children), Dan Siegel (emotions), Paul Torrance (creative thinking), Grover Whitehurst (literacy and reading comprehension), and more.

Then Cutchlow makes it all readable, for that 2-minute break you’ve got during the day.
This parenting book is for you
…if you like to research all the options so you can find the best
…if you are feeling scared, anxious, or unsure of yourself as a parent (who isn’t?)
…if you like the idea of using science as a filter for the crazy amount of parenting advice out there
…if you want practical, how-to ideas for applying the research -- not just what to do, but ideas for how to do it or how to say it
…if you want to do things differently than your parents did, even though you love them
…if you want word-for-word examples for dealing with specific discipline scenarios (hitting, biting, not sharing, talking back, refusing requests, not listening, and more)
…if you are wondering how to handle television and screen time
…if you are interested in positive discipline or positive parenting
...if you are a dad (or you are with a partner) who probably wouldn't read parenting books
…if you are a grandparent wanting to be up with the latest knowledge about raising kids
...if you are studying for your CDA, or working in early childhood education, and want a reference
...if you work with families and want to recommend or provide evidence-based resources to them
…if you want to feel like you’re enjoying parenting, not just surviving it
Who is using Zero to Five
besides, of course, parents, we've heard from:

Pediatricians. Many keep their copy in the exam room. Some private-practice pediatricians give a copy of Zero to Five to all new parents. Parent educators. "The best I've seen in a long time." "My go-to source." Parenting support groups. Seattle’s largest network,, uses Zero to Five as part of the weekly curriculum, in a "brain development break." Child-care providers. Agencies that train child-care providers. One agency created a training based on Zero to Five. Home visitors.
Family therapists and psychologists. "Your book is a big part of my practice." "I recommend it all the time." Childbirth-class teachers. Early-learning advocates. Graduate students in child development.

Zero to Five is your quick and easy guide to the best practices in parenting.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780983263364
Publisher: Pear Press
Publication date: 06/17/2014
Pages: 212
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 10.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tracy Cutchlow is the editor of Brain Rules and Brain Rules for Baby. As a journalist at The Seattle Times, she was a Pulitzer finalist. She serves on the boards of Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS) and the Children’s Screen Time Action Network. She lives in Seattle with her husband and their spirited daughter.

Read an Excerpt


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-to-any-page collection of parenting’s best practices, based on what the research says.

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 child-development 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. 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 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.


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