In addition to sleep deprivation and growing awe of their children, new parents have one thing in common: they’ve all just become eager researchers.
New parents conduct nearly double the Google searches of non-parents, and for good reason: a baby inspires countless research questions. Parents want to know what gear to buy, what parenting philosophy to adopt, and whether that fever warrants a trip to the ER.
All of these searches are shaping the way we parent. First, search results pathologize behavior by treating queries as problems to be solved. Second, many search results feature articles--and sometimes comments sections--shaming readers for their poor parenting choices. Those two problems combine and lead to a third one: parents who spend large sums of money on products guaranteed to solve their parenting problems.
As our babies turn into toddlers, preschoolers, and eventually teenagers, it only gets harder, with bigger research questions and ever more advanced algorithms getting in the way of good answers.
Snackdinner won’t answer all of your parenting questions. Instead, it will teach you to research. Equipped with a better research toolkit, you can save money on gear you don't need and be less susceptible to the daily barrage of ways the internet tells you "you're doing it wrong." You won't find many "right" answers here, but you will find lessons to help make you a saner parent and a lifelong learner.
about stephanie loomis pappas
I thought I knew how to research.
I had, after all, written the book on it: a doctoral dissertation in Rhetoric and Composition. I had taught thousands of students both online and on campus, including at Boston College, Northeastern University, and the University of Michigan. I had designed courses on essay writing, blogging, and teaching. In all of these courses, I helped my students become savvier researchers.
Then I had a baby.
Suddenly, the stakes for my research were so much higher. Each Google query transformed into a life-or-death question. The answers to those questions, however, were never satisfying, because they always led to more questions, more panic, more what ifs about that lurking danger that might kill my kid.
I started writing about parenting research here on snackdinner in 2016, which is how I found a new group of students: parents wanting to navigate the dizzying world of baby safety research.
I'm now on a mission to debunk all the bad parenting advice on the internet, not by providing parents with the “right” answers, but by equipping parents with better research skills. I use trending parenting questions about moldy Sophies, raw cookie dough, and Tide Pods as a means to teach parents how to become better researchers.
Why is your site called snackdinner?
“Snack Dinner” was my favorite dinner growing up (unless, of course, plain rotini counts as dinner). Deli meat, cheese, and bread were constant fixtures, which played well with a rotating cast of fruits and veggies and the occasional bag of chips. It was a simple-to-prepare meal that covered all of the main food groups at an inexpensive price point.
Some parents have called this meal "deconstructed sandwiches." But in calling it Snack Dinner, my mom and dad transformed four picky eaters into kids thrilled to be eating. snacks. for. dinner!
Snackdinner the website works in this same spirit, recognizing that parenting requires both research and creativity.
Why can’t I find snackdinner on social media?
Social media was making me mean.
How do you make your kid go to bed?
My baby just ate a Honey Nut Cheerio. What should I do?
Pour a few more and read this.
What’s your advice to new parents?
The same advice my mom gave me: It doesn’t get easier. It gets harder. But you get better.
Hey wait, that’s not advice!
You’re right, and that’s what I told my mom. But it’s also the truest thing I’ve learned about parenting and life.
“It gets harder” was not the most comforting thing to hear when we had recently come home from the NICU and the baby wouldn’t latch and I wondered if I’d ever be able to stop crying at the tiniest of provocations. But every few months I’m reminded that my mother was, of course, totally right. It is getting harder. Long hours waiting for my son to go to sleep have been followed by much longer hours waiting for a surgery to end or for police to investigate a bomb threat at school. My worries are growing along with my child. Every day there’s another news story about the latest hidden danger that could impact our kids, or shaming the mom who wasn’t mom enough.
Even though things get harder, I’ve also noticed myself getting better. A few months in, I could confidently change a diaper on any surface. Another year in, I could (sometimes) talk a toddler down from a tantrum. A few more years in, I could even take my child on a cross-country trip with only a carry-on suitcase.
What are your favorite children’s books?
That’s like asking me to name my favorite child, which is easy, because I just have the one.
My favorite book is whatever one I’m reading right now. I post tiny book reviews every month or so with what we’ve been reading here at snackdinner HQ.
Can you send me that article you used in your post?
No, but I can teach you how to find it.
Can I contact you about an amazing collaboration opportunity?
I do not accept spon-con, branded journalism, native advertisement, infotainment, essaymercials, or advertorials.
I want to start my own blog. Can you give me some advice?
Don’t forget to write.