Baby Ecology: Using Science and Intuition to Create the Best Feeding, Sleep, and Play Environment for Your Unique Baby
Encradled Press (2022)
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (11/2022)
What a timely read as I currently find myself on maternity leave with my second child. As a parent, there is an often-overwhelming number of books, advice, and techniques for raising babies. Author Anya Dunham recognizes the at times contradicting approaches to raising babies, as well as the fads and trends that often come with it and uses her scientific background to approach her book “Baby Ecology.”
Ecology is described by Dunham as a branch of biology focusing on the study of living beings, how they relate and interact with their environments. Thus, as the title indicates, this is a cumulation of the study of how babies interact and relate to their environment, specifically in the first 12 months of life. Dunham herself holds a doctorate degree in biology and admits to having read over eight hundred peer-reviewed articles on infants, ranging from development to sleep and feeding. Having raised two kids herself, with another on the way at the time of this book’s penning, she has compiled a comprehensive piece for new and expecting parents. Encompassing both the countless research articles and her own experiences, “Baby Ecology” is truly the only parenting book you need for the first year of life.
Organized into five chapters, Dunham focuses first on getting ready for a newborn. She then pivots into sleep, followed by feeding and care and play, wrapping up with the parents’ role. Each chapter is so well done, both in the content and in how it is pieced into two parts. Part one of each chapter houses the science and studies behind each topic. Part two is then the author’s advice, using her training to craft what she calls “the ONE” – Optimal Nurturing Environment. This approach to each chapter allows parents to get both the scientific perspective and see it in action as the author uses her own, and others’, parenting examples to put her ONE into practice.
After reading this book, I find myself both quoting parts of it to my spouse and approaching my day-to-day maternity leave activities with my new baby differently. From tips on tummy time to helpful sleep routines and nap schedules, “Baby Ecology” has already made a positive impact on our lives, despite this being our second child.