Ep 133: Busting Baby Myths with Child Psychologist Dr. Cara Goodwin, PhD


Today, licensed child psychologist Dr. Cara Goodwin, PhD, joins the podcast to tackle some common topics from the angle of research and data. Oftentimes, scientific findings don’t reach parents - Dr. Goodwin shares how research can take up to 17 years to get to the people who really need it! In this episode we break down some important facts about holding your baby, sleep training, pacifiers, and Dr. Goodwin even has some science behind baby talk.

Dr. Goodwin specializes in child development and has spent many years doing research, assessing and conducting therapy with children of all ages, and training parents on how to use the most recent scientific findings to help their children. She founded Parenting Translator with the mission of taking up current scientific research and translating it into information that parents can use in their everyday lives. 

Speaking of useful information, you can hop over and take my new, fun quiz to assess your knowledge about labor pain!

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Whether you can spoil a baby by holding them too much
  • How baby-wearing can have myriad benefits in addition to freeing up your hands
  • What is the science around co-sleeping
  • Whether sleep training has an affect on developmental outcomes
  • How baby talk can actually help advance language development
  • What are some of the many reasons to read with baby
  • What does research say about baby soothers i.e. pacifiers

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Transcript

Ep 133: Busting Baby Myths with Child Psychologist Cara Goodwin, PhD

Nicole: This is a great episode with child psychologist, Dr. Cara Goodwin.

Nicole: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN, who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

Nicole: Well, hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 133. Thank you. Thank you for spending a bit of your time with me today. In today's episode of the podcast, we have Dr. Cara Goodwin. She is a licensed child psychologist and the mother of three children. She specializes in child development, and she spent many years doing research in child psychology and neuroscience, assessing children for developmental problems. She has conducted therapy with children of all ages, and also has trained parents on how to use the most recent findings and research to help their children. That desire ultimately led her to found Parenting Translator with the mission of taking recent scientific research and translating it into information that parents can use in their every day lives. She provides out standing free resources for parents through her website, parentingtranslator.com. We'll link that up in the show notes, as well as her Instagram account @parentingtranslator.

Nicole: She puts a lot of work into her posts and her content, and it's very useful. It's very, non-biased very easy to understand. You're definitely going to love it. So in this episode, we tackle some common topics from the angle of research and data, including what is the research on whether or not you can spoil a baby by holding them, are there any research proven benefits for baby wearing, what's the research about co-sleeping and sleep training or crying it out, what about research on talking or singing to your baby? She actually has some great advice on baby talk. Baby talk is different than what we think it is. She also talks about pacifiers and more. This is a super informative episode. She shares information in a way that's so easy to understand really, really useful. And as always, I know you're going to love it. All right. Now, before we get into the episode, I got to tell you about a new quiz that I have. It is called the labor pain quiz. In this quick, seven question quiz is designed to help you know, or assess how ready you are to manage pain during labor. As I said, it's super quick, super fun, really informative. You can check out the quiz at drnicolerankins.com/quiz. Do check it out. I think you're going to find it useful. All right. So let's get into the episode with Dr. Cara Goodwin from Parenting Translator.

Nicole: Thank you so much, Cara, for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I am so excited that you reached out on Instagram and I love all of the content that you provide. So I'm super excited to have you on the podcast.

Cara: Thank you for having me.

Nicole: Yeah. So why don't we start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your work and your family, if you'd like?

Cara: Sure. So, um, I'm Dr. Cara Goodwin and I'm a licensed psychologist and a mother to three young children. Um, and I, in the past year have, um, founded a website and a social media, Instagram account called Parenting Translator. Um, and the reason I started that was really to take the scientific research that is out there and to, um, you know, translate it into information that is useful for parents, um, that is accurate, that is relevant to their lives. Um, so that's really been my goal um, recently.

Nicole: I love it, love it, and I didn't realize that it was just, um, a year, the way you look at it, it looks like you've been doing it for awhile.

Cara: Well, I guess a little bit over a year now, I started it, um, uh, really in the, in the worst part of the home lockdown in the pandemic, when, you know, seeing all this misinformation out there about, about COVID and about homeschool and, and I just felt the need to, um, you know, provide a voice on, on social media and on the internet that, um, could be helpful for parents and, and could help, you know, dispel some of the myths and the, and the misinformation that's out there.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So was there anything in particular that led you to start parenting translator? Or was it just that constant sort of like, I'm just tired of this and I gotta do something about it.

Cara: Yes. I think it was that, and you know, a little bit of the boredom during the pandemic lockdown sort of intellectual outlet. Um, and you know, I, I love reading the research. I'm I read the research, I was reading it constantly myself and, and, you know, talking to my friends, it was amazing how many of you know, my friends who are also parents, how, how, um, the, the information that is being, um, produced in these academic journals, isn't reaching the people who actually need it, the parents. And when I looked into it further, I found a really interesting statistic that when research can take up to 17 years to reach the people that really need it. And as parents, you know, our job would be over if we waited 17 years And, you know, we need the information now we don't need it, you know, even a few years from now, we need it now to make, you know, make informed decisions that are best for our children and to make our jobs a little bit easier.

Nicole: Exactly. Exactly. Do you still practice as a psychologist at all?

Cara: I don't currently I, after I had my second child, I, um, stopped my clinical practice temporarily, which is part of what led me to, to start Parenting Translator because I really needed, um, an intellectual outlet. Um, but I hope eventually, um, my, my youngest is only 11 months, but I hope as my children get older and get into preschool, I'd like to, um, start up my clinical practice again as well.

Nicole: Yeah. So what type of training did you go through to get where you are now? The short answer is a lot, but what's the longer answer?

Cara: Probably like you, Dr. Rankins, I was in school for way too long. Um, I have a master's in developmental psychiatry and master's in child psychology, um, and a PhD in child psychology. Um, and then to be licensed as a, um, as a practicing psychologist, I had to complete, um, an internship year and then a postdoctoral fellowship. So a lot of training, um, which is, uh, you know, I think it's so important. You know, I want to use my training to, um, you know, help parents to access this research. That's out there because, you know, I have all this training and, and sometimes I'm reading an academic journal and I'm like, wow, this is, this is hard to understand, you know, and I think I want that the average parent who, you know, didn't go through a million years of school to be able to, to see a summary of this research and to understand how they can take it and, and use it in their lives in a way that's helpful.

Nicole: Love it. And I will say all day, every day that a PhD is harder than an MD. I mean, cause an MD has like a defined, you take certain classes, you do certain things and then you're done at the end, but like a PhD can be in this. I'm going from the experience of my husband going through, um, one PhD and then switched into another program can just be a, it can be a drawn out experience and it is not necessarily a straight line from a to B. So, um, yes, getting a PhD is a lot of work.

Cara: Yeah. I will admit, it is a lot of work.

Nicole: Alrighty. So what I thought we could do, which I thought would be helpful was just go through a few topics that commonly come up, talk about research related to each of them. Any thoughts that you have on the topic as a child psychologist. How's that sound?

Cara: Sounds great.

Nicole: Okay. So the first one I want to start with, and this is something that I heard a lot, sir, I've heard a lot, um, especially in the black community, I don't know how it is in other communities, but what is research show about the effects of holding your baby? Is it possible to spoil a baby by holding your baby too much?

Cara: That's a great question. Yes. And I definitely heard that when I had babies, you know, a lot from the older generation, um, not so much from my peers, but more from the older generation. Um, and I can say definitively that that myth is not true. Um, you know, the research shows, you know, so many long-term benefits of holding your baby. Um, and you know, obviously we have to balance our own, our own needs as parents and what we have to do during the day, but the more you can hold your baby the better. Um, when you're holding your baby, it puts them in. I, um, you know, have re uh, low levels of a hormone called cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Um, and when, when a child has reduced cortisol, they are in the optimal condition to learn. So, so when you're holding your baby, they're really in an optimal condition to, to learn everything that they need to about their environment.

Cara: Um, and, and more generally research really shows that responsive parenting, which means responding to your baby's needs. So if your baby cries and needs comforting to pick them up is associated with, you know, better development, more advanced development, um, being more independent, showing, you know, more advanced language. So there's, there's a range of benefits for that. Um, and most importantly, for parents, when you are a responsive parent, when you hold your baby a lot, they're less likely to cry, which is what we're just keep them from crying all the time. Um, so, um, yeah, so holding your baby will definitely not spoil them. You can't, you can't spoil a baby. It's not possible. Um, the meeting your baby's needs, um, in a responsive way will actually make them more independent

Nicole: Love that. I love that. Cause it's, you're saying it's exactly the opposite and it can actually be great. And I know there's actually more research, especially for, um, preemie babies that holding your baby is very beneficial. I know my daughter's now 13, but, um, when she was a preemie, I remember the neonatologist saying just hold her all the time.

Cara: Yeah. Yes. And in particular, um, you know, with preemies and with, with all babies, actually, um, skin to skin contact in those early weeks is so important. So, you know, getting your baby down to their diaper and putting them, you know, on your chat, on your bare chest, um, that skin to skin contact, um, you know, increases a level of an, of oxytocin, which is a hormone that helps with bonding and reduces that, that stress hormone, that so putting babies in the optimal position, um, for developing a bond with you and for learning about their new environment.

Nicole: Yeah. We often talk about skin to skin. I think we've gotten better about it within that first hour after birth, but it sounds like you're saying we can keep doing it and should keep doing it at home for both partners.

Cara: Yes, definitely. Um, and I want to add, you know, as a mother myself, you know, I'd read all this research, but in reality, particularly if you have other kids, just laying around naked with a baby on your chest all day. So something that I found really helpful is there carriers that you can wrap your baby in, that allow you to do skin to skin while you, you know, walk around and take care of your other kids and do the dishes or whatever you need to do. So you don't necessarily have to just like lay there and, and, you know, do skin to skin. There, there are carriers that can help you.

Nicole: That is really practical advice that I hadn't thought of, especially if you have children before. Oh, so what about where wearing your baby in general? Like even if it's not skin to skin, is there any research or about benefits or risks or anything of like wearing your baby in those, the carriers, like the, what is the one I'm thinking of baby Bjorn and those kinds of things?

Cara: Yes. So there are tons of benefits for baby wearing, um, and you know, it, it can be skin to skin. It doesn't necessarily have to be skin to skin. Um, and so some of the benefits you'll see are, you know, improved chance of, um, breastfeeding success. Um, you see less crying in babies that are worn, um, there's, um, improved digestion because they're, you know, in an upright position, I know with my own babies, you know, sometimes it can take forever to get that baby burp. I would just sometimes just put them in the carrier and walk around. And because they're in an upright position, you don't have to sit there trying to burp them, um, for forever. Um, it, it, uh, baby wearing is also associated with, um, a secure attachment, which is, um, a bond between the mother and child that is associated with lots of, um, you know, developmental benefits.

Cara: Um, it, there's another really interesting study that found, um, so compared babywearing with pushing a baby in a stroller and found that when parents are wearing their babies, there more opportunities for language and cognitive development. Um, you know, for some reason, parents just will interact more with a baby in a carrier versus a stroller, or maybe cause they're closer. Um, I'm not sure, but, um, but so, so lots of great benefits for baby wearing, um, and practically also, you know, being a mother of three, I would say that, especially with my second and third, baby wearing really saved me in terms of just being able to care for my other children while keeping the newborn happy. They're a very challenging time.

Nicole: Yes, yes. That makes a lot of sense. And I can see that about wearing a baby versus being in a stroller, um, because they're right there and you just, you know, it's more maybe perhaps more natural to interact with them. I think it also helps with, I think, especially for a little one, I and with our premium, we had to be careful about it. Like the neonatologist was like, don't let anybody touch your baby. Like don't. So with the baby, if they, if you're wearing your baby, when you're out, it can make it more difficult for people to like come up and do things and touch your baby, as opposed to, if they're in the stroller. I know that's not like a research thing.

Cara: I have found that too. That's one of the primary reasons I'll babywear if I'm out, because, um, I did have one person, um, almost looked down my shirt, trying to touch the baby when I was baby wearing, which was crazy

Nicole: A random stranger?

Cara: Yes, it was so weird. Um, but for the most part, people will, will leave the baby alone if they're, you know, pressed up tight against your chest. Um, first when you have them, you know, in the car seat, for example, in the shopping cart, people are very likely to come up and try to touch the baby. And, um, yeah. That's another very important benefit.

Nicole: Yes, yes, yes, yes. So let's talk about the kind of controversial topic of sleeping and specifically let's start with co-sleeping. So what does the research show about co-sleeping?

Cara: Yeah, so I want to say, first of all, you know, this is so controversial and unfortunately the research is just not great on this topic on, on co-sleeping or sleep training. And, um, you know, I think, you know, I want to say first, before I even talk about the research is because the research is not as high quality as I would like it to be. It really is a personal decision that parents need to make, you know, gather the information, but make the decision that you feel is best for your child. Um, I want to say that first off, um, yeah. Co-sleeping is, um, you know, it's, I feel like there are two camps on this, you know, there's the co-sleeping camp, there's a sleep training camp and, and both can be really extreme, but you know, that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Cara: Right. Um, for co-sleeping you really want to think about this. So there's high risk co-sleeping situations and there are low risk such, um, co-sleeping situations. Um, and you know, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises absolutely no co-sleeping, you know, which means the baby in the bed with you. Um, but to keep the baby in a separate space within your room. And I will say that is, you know, the research does show that's the absolutely the safest, um, you know, if you want to do what's safest for your baby, having them in a separate place in your room is what is going to be safest. Um, but you know, as a mother to three kids who have, you know, honestly all been terrible sleepers, I can say that's not always practically what happens, you know, with my, I intended on keeping my baby in a bassinet and with my first, um, she potentially was my worst sleeper of all.

Cara: I would just constantly be falling asleep, breastfeeding her in bed. Um, cause I was just exhausted and it got to the point where I just kept falling asleep with her and it, and it wasn't safe. So I decided to co-sleep but make my bed a, um, a safe situation because I kept falling asleep. So, so falling asleep unintentionally is definitely not safe with your baby. Um, so, so, so, so back to talking about the high risk, low risk co-sleeping so low risk co-sleeping would be a parent who, um, so both parents were non-smokers so no smoking in the house, um, parents who are not using drugs and alcohol, um, a hard surface with no, um, soft bedding, um, co-sleeping on a couch or chair is not safe. Um, if the baby needs to be healthy and not premature, um, and they need to be on their back. Um, and, and even with all of those low-risk situations, net, there is still a risk with co-sleeping. And I think that's very important for parents to understand is there is a risk here. There is an increased risk of SIDS with any sort of co-sleeping. But if you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you don't have a choice meeting, all of those, um, uh, all of those factors that I listed are how you can kind of safely co-sleep.

Nicole: Okay. So do you have to take pillows out of the bed or?

Cara: So ideally you would take pillows out of the bed. You would take sheets off the bed. It would, it would be a mattress, you know, I would, um, when I've, co-slept, I've slept in a bathrobe so that I don't get cold myself, um, and pull up the covers, but yeah, so you would take all soft bedding out. Um, and you know, so the other option of, of sleeping with the baby in the room can be a great option for parents as well. Um, but there is research showing that that infants who share a room with a parent, um, do not sleep as well as infants who, um, are in their rooms by themselves. So that can, it's not a huge difference I should say, but, um, but there is, you know, they're more likely to hear their parents that, you know, if the mother's breastfeeding, they can smell the breast milk and that can wake them up. So, so there is a give and take there as well

Nicole: Yeah and I noticed anecdotally, I've heard people say like, my baby actually started sleeping better when I moved them to their own room, like two months or three months or whatever you feel is right. But that sort of anecdotally heard that.

Cara: Yes. And as a parent, you might sleep better in that situation. So it really is. It really is, you know, when you're making these decisions, looking at your own needs, looking at your baby and their needs and, and, you know, reading the research and, and, and listening to the American Academy of Pediatrics and these experts on what really is the safest, but, but making a decision based on your, on your, on your own family's needs as well.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I, I mean, the way you lay it out is fantastic. Like here's the evidence and the reality is, is there is an increased risk with co-sleeping I've heard not frequently and actually very rare instances where sadly a baby was smothered or, um, you know, those terrible, terrible accidents that that happened. But ultimately, like you said, if you're finding that you're falling asleep all the time and holding the baby, then that's not good either. So you just have to do what works best. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So what about sleep training, letting a baby cry it out? What do you, what's the research on that?

Cara: We'll keep on the, on the controversial topic, sleep training also is not well-studied and I wish there were, you know, better quality studies. That part of the issue is we can't tell parents, you know, in an ideal situation, we would tell, you know, have a study where we tell parents randomly assigned them to either cry it out or not cry it out. And, and it's not always possible to tell parents to make a choice with their own child. Um, so, um, studies have used, um, you know, a lot of different approaches. So it's not always what you typically think about, um, where you just leave the baby to cry for hours. So a lot of studies have used, um, you know, allow parents to make their own choices, which makes it the study a little bit more complicated. Um, and a lot of the studies on sleep training have also included a sleep education component, which is really important, um, to mention, because that can include telling parents to have a bedtime routine and to, you know, keep the lights dimmed at a certain hour.

Cara: So, um, just having some sleep education could be what is helping these babies to sleep better and not necessarily the training itself. Right. Um, but the research does show that sleep training, um, is, um, you know, parents who use the sleep training methods are the, these babies are sleeping for longer periods. They are falling asleep more quickly and, you know, parents, as a result are also sleeping more. Um, but you know, a lot of these, um, studies have used more gentle approaches than that. Um, what you think is the typical cry it out. So, um, you know, maybe we used an approach where there's a parent in there, who's kind of rubbing the child as they're crying, um, or as they're trying to fall asleep, um, you know, ideally we, the child isn't even distressed. Um, but you know, the research does show that a baby is going to sleep longer if they can fall asleep on their own.

Cara: Um, and you know, I've breastfed to sleep. It's the easiest way to get a baby to fall asleep in my opinion is to just breastfeed them, um, or rocking I've rocked babies to sleep too, but, um, a baby is going to sleep for longer if they learn how to fall asleep on their own. Um, so, so, you know, the, the big takeaway from the sleep training research, I think is a lot of these studies, you know, they find that that babies do sleep longer as a result of sleep training, but they don't find any differences in developmental outcomes between children who are sleep trained and children who were not, which says to me, you know, you shouldn't feel any pressure that you have to sleep train your baby. Cause you know, there's this narrative out there that, you know, babies need to be slept, train, sleep, train, to learn how to self-soothe and that's just not true. You know, a baby doesn't need sleep trained. Um, and it's also not true that, you know, you're going to do some sort of, you know, irreparable harm to your baby by sleep training them. So, um, like I said, there's extremes on this topic and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Um, so you really need to, to, to figure out what works best for your family and, and don't feel any pressure to sleep train or to not sleep train based on outside influences.

Nicole: Love it, love it. Yeah. I remember with my older, we, we never lived with neither one. We never really like had to do like strict sleep training, but with my oldest, we would have to put her down and then we would have to get down on the floor and crawl out of the room because if she saw us, then it was like, she, she would lose it. But as long as we, as long as we crawled out of the room and she didn't see it, that was fine.

Cara: Like careful not to hit a floorboard that might creak. Yeah. I've been there.

Nicole: Alrighty. So let's talk about talking or singing to your baby. What does the research show about that?

Cara: Yeah. So there's decades of research showing that, you know, the more you talk to your baby, um, the more you're going to advance their development, which is going to translate into, you know, advanced development for many years to come and success in school. Um, and so this is both the number of words you use and the variety of words that you use. Um, and in particular, there's a style of talking that's called parentese, um, which is sometimes called baby talk, but it's not baby talk in the like goo goo gah gah, you know, little baby. Um, it's more, um, you know, you're using a pretty normal vocabulary, you're using correct grammar and sentence structure, but you're just speaking really slowly. You're exaggerating the pitch. You're drawing out your vowels, like, you know, hi baby, how are you? Um, you know, just a lot of us talk to our pets in the same way. Right? So slow, exaggerating the vowels and the pitch. Um, so there's a lot of research showing that using this kind of talking that's called parentese really helps baby's language development.

Nicole: Oh, I love that. I didn't even know. Cause you think of, I think of baby talk is like the goo goo gah gah I'm making sorta, but no you're saying I'm like, you speak in complete sentences. Like you don't, but you just sorta, you alter it. So it's um, they can, I'm wondering, does it help them like pick up certain things a different way?

Cara: Yeah. Yeah. It helps them pay attention and to understand the language. So it really helps to advance their language development.

Nicole: Got it. Do you know anything about talking to babies while they're still inside? Like during pregnancy?

Cara: Um, so from my understanding, I think that it's really hard for babies to hear anybody else's voice, but they do hear the mother's voice, whether or not how much you talk during pregnancy has an impact on their language development. I haven't seen any research on that. Um, but they do, there is research showing that babies when they're born know the mother's voice. So, so I think that is useful for mothers to know that, um, you know, when your baby's first born, your voice is actually one of the few things that are familiar to them. Um, so you use your voice to help, to calm them and to feel at ease with transitioning into the world. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I, I think I've seen like one study that shows similar to what you said that it, they definitely hear mom's voice. It's not clear that they hear anybody else's voice. Although I hear plenty of dads say that I sung, you know, I used to sing to the baby. And then when they came out, I sang a certain song and they, you know, they calm down. So you never know, and it certainly doesn't hurt.

Cara: It does not.

Nicole: And it can help improve, um, bonding as well. Yes. So what about, and I know what this is going to say, but let's just go through it really quickly. What about the research about reading to your baby?

Cara: Yes. Reading is amazing for your child's brain development for their language development, for building the parent child bond. So you cannot do enough reading. Um, and I think a lot of a big question that parents have is, you know, well, when should I start? Um, and you know, my answer would be as soon as possible, you know, there's research showing that, you know, babies as young as six months, um, you know, reading is going to impact their development, um, and that they can learn, you know, language from books. They can learn behaviors from books. So the earlier the earlier you can start and make it a habit and a part of your routine the better,

Nicole: Yeah. 100%. Uh, it there's just no disadvantage to, to reading to your child every, every night you can make it a nice routine, even when they're teeny tiny and they can't always like, you know, look or see everything. And, um, I just, it's always loved reading to my girls. So I'm partial partial to it.

Cara: Yeah. I love reading.

Nicole: All right. So let's, um, end with, uh, another sort of controversial one. What does research show about pacifiers, or I guess people call them baby soothers. Now that sort of broad category. What does the research say about that?

Cara: Um, you know, so there's, I should say, first of all, since we've been talking about, you know, the SIDS risk with co-sleeping. Pacifiers have been shown in research to reduce the risk of SIDS. So I think a huge benefit of pacifiers, um, and obviously that would be nighttime pacifier use. So there's really no evidence finding any negative impacts of nighttime pacifier use, particularly in the first year, maybe extended nighttime pacifier use. You know, if you're talking about, you know, a three-year-old then you, that might be, you'd be starting to see dental problems and, um, other sorts of problems, but nighttime pacifier use, there's no evidence that that would impact a child's language development or emotional development. Um, and there is actually no link or direct link between pacifier use and language development. Um, there it pacifier use has been associated with increased rate of ear infections, which is linked with, um, language problems, as you could understand, you know, if the child has trouble hearing, they would have trouble developing language.

Cara: Um, but there's no direct evidence between pacifier use and, um, language development. Um, there is one study showing that, um, boys who use pacifiers, um, maybe more likely to have, um, difficulties with emotional competence, um, probably because they are then have more difficulty, um, mimicking the emotions of others when they have a pacifier in their mouth. Um, but that's, that's just one study. Um, so there isn't, there isn't a, you know, for as much as pacifiers get a bad rep there, isn't a lot of research really shows, you know, huge negative impacts. Um, and a really common myth is that, um, pacifier use is, um, likely to disrupt, um, breastfeeding success. Um, that is definitely not true based on the research. So pacifier use, even if you start from birth, um, you know, before breastfeeding is established, is, um, has been found to have no impact on breastfeeding.

Nicole: You are going to make a whole lot of people happy with that statement.

Cara: Yeah. And I, you know, in those early weeks, like, yeah, I can say as a parent, like we need every tool, we have to make things easier. Um,

Nicole: 100%, 100%. So last thing is, are there any like surprising or interesting research findings that you've come across that you've been like, I was not expecting this or that you really want people to know?

Cara: So, you know, some interesting, um, stuff I've been reading recently, it's been about food allergies, you know, there's this, you know, I know that there there's food allergies have been increasing and in particularly our awareness of them have been increasing. Um, and you know, I think when, um, you know, my generation were babies, there was this idea of, we need to avoid introducing allergenic foods to babies because, you know, they could have this bad reaction, but now there's all this research showing that, you know, particularly for high-risk infants, um, you know, those with a history of, of Allard of family allergies, for example, um, you want to introduce these allergenic foods like peanuts and dairy and eggs, um, as early and as often as possible because at that's gonna reduce your child's risk of allergies. Um, so I think that's something that a lot of people aren't aware of, um, that I thought was really interesting.

Nicole: Yes. I'm glad you brought that up. That that has definitely been something that I like kind of peripherally seeing the research on that that was very surprising that it was like, no, you actually need to need to expose children to these things soon.

Cara: Yes. And I should say, you know, always consult with your pediatrician before starting a program of exposing children. Um, but, but that's what the research shows is even for, you know, the high risk infants that exposing your children to these allergenic foods early on is going to prevent food allergies.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I think, I don't know if that goes in line with, you know, I think the, it kind of brings to mind, um, the microbiome and how we influence the microbiome. And we, you know, we used to think like, keep everything so clean and, you know, bite down everything, but it's actually doing kids at disadvantage. We are, we do better by creating a better environment when we expose them to things like playing in the dirt or being outside, you know, obviously we all have to wash and keep clean and all of those things, but that's another area that makes me think that we just, we don't necessarily understand how those early years and exposures, maybe we need to rethink them.

Cara: Yes. Yes, exactly.

Nicole: Yeah. Okay. So as we wrap up, I always ask folks, um, what is the most frustrating part of your work?

Cara: Um, you know, I think the most frustrating part of my work is, um, you know, because I'm on the internet and social media, I'm seeing this idea of, you know, parenting experts that are out there. And that's kind of, you know, a myth that are people out there that are experts in parenting. You know, they're, I like to think of myself as somebody that can, you know, help to provide the information, but I think every parent should see themselves as an expert on their own children. Um, and not feel like there's anything that, you know, you should be doing or, um, you know, I think when you hear anything that seems extreme or people are, are, are saying that there's only one way to do something, that's when a red flag should raise and you should be like, well, you know, that's not necessarily right. Um, because the research is just so complex on parenting, there's there, isn't always a clear answer. And a lot of it is going to come down to, you know, your own instincts and knowing your own child

Nicole: That is fan to, I love that fantastic advice. Like you, you may be the expert on information and being able to synthesize and present information, but you want to empower people that, that they are the experts on their children, you're just giving them the information to help them make the best decisions for themselves. So on the flip side, what's the most rewarding part of your work?

Cara: I think that, you know, when parents, it really, it sounds cliche, but when parents have, you know, message me or email me and tell me, you know, that it's helpful to them. And, and especially when they give an example of how it's helpful, I think that, um, you know, is really amazing for me because reading the research is really a passion of mine that I would probably be doing anyway, but I'm just so happy to be able to share it with others. And, and it really is amazing

Nicole: Isn't it though, especially when it's like, it's somebody who's like, you know, I don't, what part of the country are you in?

Cara: Virginia.

Nicole: Oh, I didn't know. I'm in Virginia also. I'm in Richmond. Um,

Cara: I'm in Charlotte.

Nicole: So no, when somebody, you know, sends you a message from like California or like wherever place. And you're like, it's just really, um, you know, nice that you can help people in this bigger way more so than like that face-to-face or one-on-one contact. Yeah. Yeah. Like you said, it sounds corny, but it really, it really is like very, very rewarding.

Cara: It really is.

Nicole: Yeah. So what is your favorite piece of advice that you'd like to give to expectant parents?

Cara: To really just follow your own instincts? Um, you know, I know when I had my first, I had read so many books and so much research and I, and I was really concerned that I should have my newborn on the schedule and, you know, like a strict schedule of sleeping and eating, and that just didn't work for our family and it didn't work for my baby. And once I like dropped the idea of what I should be doing, I found that I was able to enjoy parenting and enjoy my child. Um, once I kind of dropped what I thought this is the way it should be. Um, so, so basically just listen for when you hear like that should and don't do it naturally and don't feel like you owe anybody an explanation.

Nicole: Yep. Love it. Love it. Great, great, great advice. So where can people find you?

Cara: So @parentingtranslator on Instagram and www.parentingtranslator.com is my website. Um, and I would love to, um, you know, post on any topics that any of your listeners have or answer any questions. So please don't hesitate.

Nicole: Well, thank you, Dr. Goodwin for coming onto the podcast. So excited to have you. I know folks are going to love the information that, that you provided was really, really outstanding.

Cara: Great. Thank you so much, Dr. Rankins.

Nicole: Okay. Didn't I tell you that was going to be an informative episode. I know I learned a lot and I hope that you did too. Now, after every episode, when I have a guest on, I do something called Nicole's Notes where we talk about my top three or four takeaways or thoughts from the episode, here are my Nicole's Notes from my conversation with Cara. All right, number one, she talked about the importance of reading books to your children. I want to add to that, that it's important that you read books to your children that have diverse characters in them. You want to have characters that look different that come from different cultural backgrounds. Um, when you expose your children early to what is a reflection of the world that we live in a world that has people that look different, that people have different abilities that people approach things differently, then that will be more normalized for your child as they get older.

Nicole: So be intentional about reading books, even when they're babies. Reading books, to your kids that have diverse characters, diverse storylines, different abilities for the characters in the books, that's really important to help your child be a good global citizen. Okay. Point number two, her point about it taking 17 years for research to translate into practice. That is not an exaggeration. There are studies that show that it takes a long time for research to actually filter down into everyday practice. Now that has gotten better with the use of technology, because we now have information at our fingertips that's more readily available and news stories and things like that in order to get that information out there. I think some of that in the past was because, you know, things were published in journals and there wasn't like social media at your fingertips or, you know, things at your fingertips and things like that.

Nicole: So now with social media, it's better. And I will say specifically within the field of OB GYN, it's also better is because we have to, as part of board certification, actually read a certain number of articles each year, something like 15 or 20 articles every year, and answer questions about the article. So the board certification process is helping to force us to stay updated. Um, however, it does take some time for things to translate into practice, which is why it's really important to follow resources like, like Cara or just in general, educate yourself. Okay. And speaking of education, that brings me to Nicole's Notes, number three, and that is educating yourself to make decisions that are best for you or for your family. Educating yourself means looking at both sides or looking at all of the information available, evaluating it as objectively as possible, and then make a decision educating yourself does not mean that you look for information to confirm what you already want to do.

Nicole: Okay. That's a really important distinction. I've seen this a lot regarding the COVID-19 vaccines is that people are really looking for data and sources of information that confirm what they already want to do instead of kind of looking at everything on balance as objectively as possible, and then making a decision there. So educating yourself again, is looking at all the information, evaluating it as objective as possible, and then making a decision, not finding information to confirm what you already want to do. Okay. And then the final point I'll say about education is I hope you're doing childbirth education, and if you're not, then you should be. Childbirth education is so important, especially when you're giving birth in a system that is not always designed to support you. That may not always be up to date on the most current research and practices and things like that.

Nicole: You can easily get that up-to-date information inside the Birth Preparation Course, my signature online childbirth class, that gets you calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth. One of the things that I pride myself on about the course is the evidence-based research approach for sure. And actually linking to those sources of information inside the course. So you can check out all the details of the course atdrnicolerankins.com/enroll. I would be delighted to serve you inside the course. All right. So there you have it, be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening to me right now. And if you feel so inclined, leave that review in Apple Podcast in particular helps the show to grow, helps other folks to find the show. And I do shout outs from those reviews from time to time. And I forget to check out my new free labor pain quiz.

Nicole: You're going to enjoy it. It's super fun, super quick and super informative. You can check it out at drnicolerankins.com/quiz. So that's it for this episode do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.

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