The instant New York Times bestseller!
An NPR Book of the Year
From the author of Expecting Better, an economist's guide to the early years of parenting.
"The book is jampacked with information, but it’s also a delightful read because Oster is such a good writer." —NPR
With Expecting Better, award-winning economist Emily Oster spotted a need in the pregnancy market for advice that gave women the information they needed to make the best decision for their own pregnancies. By digging into the data, Oster found that much of the conventional pregnancy wisdom was wrong. In Cribsheet, she now tackles an even greater challenge: decision-making in the early years of parenting.
As any new parent knows, there is an abundance of often-conflicting advice hurled at you from doctors, family, friends, and strangers on the internet. From the earliest days, parents get the message that they must make certain choices around feeding, sleep, and schedule or all will be lost. There's a rule—or three—for everything. But the benefits of these choices can be overstated, and the trade-offs can be profound. How do you make your own best decision?
Armed with the data, Oster finds that the conventional wisdom doesn't always hold up. She debunks myths around breastfeeding (not a panacea), sleep training (not so bad!), potty training (wait until they're ready or possibly bribe with M&Ms), language acquisition (early talkers aren't necessarily geniuses), and many other topics. She also shows parents how to think through freighted questions like if and how to go back to work, how to think about toddler discipline, and how to have a relationship and parent at the same time.
Economics is the science of decision-making, and Cribsheet is a thinking parent's guide to the chaos and frequent misinformation of the early years. Emily Oster is a trained expert—and mom of two—who can empower us to make better, less fraught decisions—and stay sane in the years before preschool.
Economist Oster (Expecting Better) goes beyond the anecdotal to give parents of babies and toddlers both the data and the theoretical framework they need to make informed choices about raising their children. Among the issues addressed: vaccination (the data say yes, emphatically); when to introduce potential food allergens (early exposure to peanuts probably reduces allergies); and screen time (not useful for helping a child learn until he or she is three, and then the data are inconclusive). Along the way, Oster also introduces useful concepts like "Bayesian statistics," which involves starting with an existing personal belief and then applying new data to see if it still seems valid. She encourages parents to think about opportunity costs (letting a toddler watch TV for an hour to give the parent a break can be worth the potential downside) and shares the "best parenting advice I've ever gotten" a pediatrician telling her, in response to her questions about myriad possible emergencies befalling her daughter, "Just try not to think about that." Parents new and old will find reassurance in this commonsense approach.