Evidence-based tips for breastfeeding moms: A guide for the science-minded

© 2008-2014 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Breastfeeding may be natural, but it isn’t automatic (Volk 2009). Here are some tips for breastfeeding moms, based on research by lactation experts, anthropologists, and social scientists. For more evidence-based information about breastfeeding, see this collection of Parenting Science articles. 1. Don’t be bamboozled by the myth Read More »

Potty training tips: An evidence-based guide for the thinking parent

© 2006 – 2013 Parenting Science, all rights reserved Evidence-based potty training tips? There haven’t been many experimental studies of toilet training, but helpful research exists. Here you will find a collection of evidence-based articles, including: What research reveals about the timing of training Signs of toilet training readiness: Should you wait? How to prepare Read More »

Infantile colic: References about the causes of colic or inconsolable crying

Compiled by Gwen Dewar (last updated 12/2013) Here is a list of references about infantile colic and inconsolable crying. I cite them in my articles “What is colic? A critical review of the scientific evidence” “The causes of colic: How disease and differences in brain chemistry can explain excessive, inconsolable crying in young babies” I’ve Read More »

SIDS prevention: Hypotheses about reducing risk


© 2009 – 2013 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Guidelines for “SIDS prevention” are like guidelines about cancer prevention. Researchers don’t claim they know how to prevent SIDS in any given individual. But they’ve identified a number of practices that appear to increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Practices to AVOID include: Read More »

Bed sharing with infants: Can it be done safely?

© 2009 – 2013 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Bed sharing in cross-cultural perspective Throughout human history, babies and mothers have slept together, often sharing a sleep surface (Konner 1981). Is this a safe arrangement? The answer depends on the details. The typical, Western-style bed is not a safe place for babies to sleep. Read More »

Nutrients and calories in breast milk: A guide for the science-minded

© 2008 – 2012 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved The nutrients and calories in breast milk may vary according to How many days a mother has been lactating The time of day Time elapsed since the beginning of a feed The mother’s diet The frequency between feedings There are more than 200 constituents of Read More »

The causes of colic: How disease and differences in brain chemistry can explain excessive, inconsolable crying in young babies

© 2009 – 2012 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Why parents should consider the physiological causes of colic Colicky infants cry excessively and inconsolably. Once a colicky baby gets going, it can be impossible to calm him down. Why? There are many possible answers. Long ago, people assumed that colic was caused by abdominal Read More »

Math before words: What babies know about numbers

© 2008 – 2012 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved What do babies know about numbers? Back in the 20th century, people assumed that infants lacked “number sense.” But today’s cognitive scientists have overturned the old ideas. Experimental research reveals a fascinating new world of baby cognition, one in which babies can recognize the approximate difference Read More »

The science of toilet training: What research tells us about timing

© 2007-2010 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved When is the best time to begin toilet training? Infancy? 18 months? 24 months? Or even later? There is surprisingly little research addressing this question. As I note elsewhere, each age is associated with its own costs and benefits. But it’s fair to make a two general points. Read More »

Excessive infant crying & irritability: Which comes first — the unhappy baby or the stressed-out parent?

© 2009 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Some people believe that excessive infant crying and irritability are caused by anxious or moody parents. According to this idea, young babies cry because their parents are anxious or depressed and transmit their negative emotions to their infants. Plausible? Sure. It’s clear that distress is contagious. But Read More »

A potty training checklist for the science-minded parent

© 2006 – 2008 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Potty training is easier when parents plan ahead. Here’s a potty training checklist of things to do before you begin. 1. Consider your child’s age Parents can safely begin training at a variety of ages, but your goals should match the developmental level of the Read More »