Bright From the Start By Jill Stamm

Every new parent wants to get their kids on the right track to learning.  Finding a way to give your children the best opportunity to feed their brains has fueled an enormous industry in baby learning products.  Are they really necessary?  Is one better than another?  The vast number of products available can cause you to lose your mind trying to figure out which educational toy is best.  Bright From the Start by Jill Stamm is a great starter book for people looking to figure out what is really important in nurturing a child’s mental growth.

Bright From the Start is easy to read and contains fundamental ideas from which you can build a solid learning platform.  (Parents are always looking for that magic secret to unlocking those extra IQ points in their kids, aren’t they?)  The book stands by its principle, ABC, or Attention, Bonding, and Communication.  The entire book is written around this simple philosophy.

Stamm discounts the hype associated with the latest and greatest products to boost your child’s brain development.  (And rightfully so.  Do you really think that your child playing with a jump rope is worse than playing with a talking multi-lingual stuffed toy?  Not necessarily.)  In the beginning of life, there are more important things to work on, hence the ABCs (see above).

Now, I know that different parents have different ideas about the early years of a child’s development.  So, please understand that this is my opinion.  I agree with Jill Stamm’s ABCs.  Babies need attention.  Attention from you.  That is how they learn.  Babies want attention from you and obviously their verbal skills haven’t developed yet.  So, they use their face, hands and voice to get your attention.  This interplay between you and the baby is probably the most important aspect of learning.  (Stamm also talks about the TV being a problem before the age of 2.  I agree.  Staring at a TV teaches your child to, um, stare at a TV…even if it is an educational show.)  Bonding is also important.  Your baby is a living creature.  It naturally wants needs to bond to a human.  That human should be you.  A strong bond with you lowers stress hormones in the baby.  When the baby feels safe, he or she can explore and learn without fear.  Lastly, there’s communication.  We need to learn to communicate with the baby as much as the other way around.  Adults are so used to verbal communication that many have lost the ability to recognize non-verbal cues.  Babies provide a nice refresher course for us.  When we work on communication with our baby, there’s less frustration on both parties.  You’ll probably notice yourself starting to “read your baby’s mind” which may result in less frequent crying.

Jill Stamm has written a nice book with general concepts for us non-neuroscientists.  She briefly explains brain development from a neural connectivity perspective and then goes into the Attention, Bonding, and Communication strategies.  For some parents, the ABC philosophy makes complete sense.  For other parents, it may take a little convincing.  (I believed in the ABC philosophy from the beginning and Stamm gave some great reasons why the philosophy makes sense.)  I enjoyed reading this book as it was not densely filled with data.  But, it left me wanting a little more substance to bite into.  (Personally, I would have liked to see a bit more technical information.)  If you are looking for an instruction book on how to manage your child’s learning from 0-3 years old, this is not it.

Bright From the Start gives you, the reader, some games that you can play with your baby.  Stamm talks about how these games work on the baby’s brain.  There are also tables on how your baby should progress, developmentally.  It’s a great book to learn about how YOU can assist in developing your baby’s learning from birth until three years of age.  I recommend this book as a reference for parents who want to understand how the time they invest in their babies is more important than anything else.  If you already understand how important spending time with your baby is, then this book may be somewhat rudimentary.


Overall Rating:  7 Worms   

Readability:  8 Worms

Usefulness:  7 Worms 

Manliness:  7 Worms 

Retail Price:  $17



Easy to read.  General concepts.  Simple games to play with your baby.


Not enough technical information.  I would have liked to see some studies and scientific evidence, etc.

Things I would modify:

Not much.  This book is a casual read.  I think it is targeted towards a parent that is interested in building a strong relationship with their child, but could use a little guidance.