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Parenting Advice Based on What?

There's nothing more integral to good parenting than a late-night Google session about breastfeeding or sleep positions. Except maybe Q-tips. Those are pretty necessary, too. Though you should be careful how you use Q-tips (and Google), because studies show both can inadvertently damage your child.

Confused? Welcome to parenthood and the morass of advice, tips and suggestions that dominate the first 18 years of this new role.

A new book based on a popular blog attempts to tease apart opinions and anecdotes by looking at studies and studies of studies about best practices in parenting. In "The Science of Mom," Alice Callahan takes on favorite (and divisive) parenting fodder like breastfeeding, co-sleeping and vitamin K shots at birth, laying out the statistics to help guide your decisions.

In an interview with Rachel Martin, host of Weekend Edition on NPR, Callahan said the best resources don't necessarily pop up at the top of a Google search. They're websites out of university or a children's hospital, major medical organizations and governmental organizations like the CDC. Not (ahem) parenting websites and blogs. (Yeah, but we're way more fun to read.) And certainly not news sites just summarizing the latest (and possibly even questionable) study. The 24-hour news cycle churn can be misleading.

Martin asks Callahan about delaying cord-cutting (worth it, especially for preemies), co-sleeping (better to use a crib, but better to co-sleep if you're just going to fall asleep in a chair) and vitamin K shots at birth (life-saving for a very, very rare condition).

What makes her the expert? She has a background in nutritional biology and fetal physiology. And she's a research scientist. What she gets from all the recommendations is that you're playing a numbers game: "Science is going to give us averages and show us correlations between different factors. But it can't necessarily tell us exactly what to do with our baby in the middle of the night."

Image via Twenty20

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