Parenting Science Gang

Newsletter #5 – We’re growing!

Can you help us get bigger?

We’re growing! We’re looking for more parenting groups to work with from October. Do you know any groups of parents who might like to get involved?

Parenting Science Gang works best with groups of parents brought together by a clearly defined common interest or purpose. This might be a shared interest in a health issue, a shared behaviour (such as breastfeeding), or a shared identity (such as ethnicity or sexuality).

So far we’ve partnered with existing Facebook communities and this works well. However we’re open to non-Facebook ideas too.

We’re especially keen to work with harder to reach groups such as young parents, black and ethnic minority parents and groups for people with disabilities. We’re also keen to find some dads to work with as they’re hugely under-represented in our project – as in, zero dads so far!

If you are part of or know of a group that might be interested, we’d love to hear from you. Please email


Asking the experts

What’s in breast milk? A Q&A with Dr Natalie Shenker

“Sum total of knowledge from my PhD and the last 2 years: boobs really are very clever.”

Dr Natalie Shenker’s Q&A on what’s in breast milk was insanely popular, our busiest and most read yet.

Find out about Natalies research, her work at Hearts Milk Bank and:

  • why the Tanka women who breastfeed on one side only are so interesting
  • how we know how long it is safe to store frozen breast milk for (spoiler – we don’t!)
  • what epithelial cells are and why they are interesting.

Read the transcript

It was a great month for expert Q&As:

The effects of computer games 

Dr Pete Etchells – how do computer games affect behaviour? What evidence is there? What’s the difference between Minecraft and Lego, really?

Fussy eating  

Claire Farrow – research tips on tackling fussy eating. What can research tell us about the role of rewards?

Breastfeeding – a bigger picture 

Dr Karleen Gribble – why scientists should ask children what THEY think about breastfeeding. Cultural barriers to breastfeeding, peer sharing and breastfeeding in emergency situations.

What is reasonable behaviour? 

Dr Bonamy Oliver – how do scientists study tantrums? Behaviour research and evidence based-tips.


News from the Science Gangs

UK Breastfeeding & Parenting Support (UKBAPS-PSG)

Why is UKBAPS-PSG like an upside-down painting?

Science Gang member Astrid Rønning Petersen explains in this entertaining blog post.

Breastfeeding Older Babies and Beyond (BOBAB-PSG) and UK Breastfeeding and Parenting Support (UKBAPS-PSG)

Fanfare! BOBAB-PSG and UKBAPS-PSG have chosen their topic: both voted to look at what’s in breast milk.

We’ll be spending the next few weeks on a self-directed crash course into the constituents of human milk so we can decide what we want to test for and why.

We’ll also be working out how the two groups will work together. This wasn’t in the plan! But with such enthusiasm for the topic, it’s a great problem to have. Watch this space!…

Science Aware Natural Parenting (SANP-PSG)

SANP-PSG now have a shortlist of four. Which question will they choose to design an experiment for? 

Could you use your expertise to help them explore these areas or the methods they would need to investigate them?

If so we’d love to hear from you at

SANP-PSG’s shortlist:

  • Does co-sleeping in maternity wards lead to improved breastfeeding rates?
  • Babywearing and temperature – how hot do babies get?
  • What is the best way to deal with undesirable behaviour after the toddler years?
  • Does babywearing encourage parents to be less sedentary and get more physical activity, contributing to mental health?

Dumfries and Galloway Bumps, Babies, Beyond (DGBBB-PSG)

Dumfries & Galloway Meet-up DGBBB-PSG will be putting their heads together to explore their parenting questions at a family-friendly PSG event in central Dumfries this month.


Calling all experts!

Want to get involved?

Our Parenting Science Gangs will chose one question each to investigate. Their questions span anything from conception onwards: pregnancy, breast feeding, natural term breastfeeding, food and eating habits, the things we buy for our chidren, screen time, education…

Yep, parents have LOTS of questions. Are you an expert in any of these areas – or any area of parenting? Would you like to get involved? (You could join us for an online Q&A or be an expert in residence in one of our groups).

We are particularly interested to hear from black and ethnic minority experts as, so far, their voices are under-represented in our expert Q&As.

Please contact us at


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