What’s Going On In There? by Lise Eliot, PhD (2000)

Oh, wow. Babies and neuroscience! What’s not to like? I have three very young kids and a degree in neuroscience, so this was right up my alley.

I was so impressed with this book. It’s explained simply enough for the layperson, but with enough detail to satisfy an expert. There were several times I found myself wanting to wake my husband to tell him a cool brain development factoid I learned…

Because I took coursework on sensation and perception back in my neuroscience days, much of the information on touch, proprioception, smell, taste, vision and hearing was nothing new to me. And the motor development section was familiar, too…

I especially liked the next chapters about language acquisition, memory, social-emotional development, sex differences, and intelligence. I lapped that all up.

Anyway, a few fun factoids… Intelligence is about half genetics and half environment. Babies also have both polite smiles and genuine smiles–there’s an eye muscle involved in a real smile, and strangers don’t get those eye smiles. Deaf babies don’t babble aloud, but do “babble” in sign language.

A warning about this one though–at about 500 pages, it’ll take a while to get through. But this is for sure going to end up as a classic book on child development.