Book: Beyond the Sling, by Mayim Bialik

beyondTheSlingTitle: Beyond the Sling – A real-life guide to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way
Mayim Bialik
Source: Veddma library
Available online

This book outlines main tenets of attachment parenting and presents the reader with practical examples from the author’s personal experiences, as well as that of her friends. The author has a PhD in neuroscience, works as an actress, and her husband is their two children’s caregiver while she is working.

The book discusses trusting your parenting instincts and learning to filter other people’s input, finding your own parenting style. Some of the good suggestions include learning to smile at annoying people, having realistic expectations, taking it slow, and rethinking your priorities. It follows with the chapters addressing needs of the baby, focusing on gentle unmedicated birth, breastfeeding, holding and babywearing (with discussion of some specific carriers), co-sleeping and night-time parenting, and potty training, including elimination communication.

The discussion is continued with the things baby does not need, such as the plethora of baby products, unnecessary medical interventions, pressure to excel in academics or sports, and wraps up by discussion of discipline measures and the advantages of gentle discipline. The author covers issues such as politeness, willingness to share, peer pressure, and media exposure, as well as corporal punishment’s shortcomings, illogical consequences, name-calling, time-outs, threats and rewards, and authoritarian approach to discipline.

The author’s views are largely experience-based, and even when referring to research, she does not go into it in depth. This makes for an easy-to-read introductory narrative, yet the book does not focus on providing evidence – the spotlight is more on logical choices based on human psychology and common sense. There is, however, a brief overview of the physiological factors that influence child development. This book would be good to read while pregnant, it is non-judgemental and discusses many of the childbearing and parenting realities, even if often through a lens of one woman’s experience.

The book ends with some thoughts on re-thinking your existing friendships, keeping the relationship with your partner strong throughout childrearing years, and balancing work and family. Some of the views and examples are relevant more to women who have a very active social life in a big city, prior to having children, including frequent meals out, shopping trips, and parties, yet many aspects of changing relationships are relevant no matter the parents’ former level of social involvement.

Overall, this book is straightforward and full of examples, making it a good read for someone being newly introduced to the concepts of attachment parenting.