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Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  17,249 ratings  ·  1,409 reviews
From the author of EXPECTING BETTER, an economist's guide to the early years of parenting

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 wi
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Penguin Press
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 ·  17,249 ratings  ·  1,409 reviews

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Kate Lobo
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
90% of the book can be distilled into: the research and data on xyz is inconclusive, so do what’s best for your family and it’ll probably all be fine. Didn’t really learn anything super significant, except that apparently economists think that having a higher quantity of children means they will be lower quality. Not really my style of parenting book
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am reviewing an ARC of this book I received through Edelweiss.

I LOVED Oster's first book Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong - and What You Really Need to Know. It relieved a lot of my concerns about pregnancy and childbirth and I would consider reading it again if I have a second child. I recommend it to all new moms. I was super excited that she now has a book for babies and toddlers because my son is just under two. I was hoping for some insight into things like
Mazie Lynn
As a parent, it is quite difficult for me to suspend all bias in favor of the evidence and I do not believe this author has been able to either. Although she admits her particular bias in one section of the book (spanking), a few snarky comments in other sections leave me feeling as though she has other unclaimed biases in play. There was some helpful fodder for thinking through the many issues parents confront in the earliest days, months, and years of their children's lives, but I suspect folk ...more
Matt Quann
Just before our son arrived, I assured my wife that as an almost-paediatrician I knew all about babies. While she could help herself to parenting books, I'd be fine. Then, of course, I discovered that taking care of one well child can be an entirely different challenge from managing a hospital full of sick ones. My pride wounded and my shirt puke-stained, I went in search of a book that would touch on the stuff we don't learn much about in medicine, wouldn't retread basic concepts too much, and ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
With a few exceptions, the overall gist is that there isn't a ton of high quality research to prove one parenting choice is better than another so you should use your judgement and do what's best for your family. I do think this is an important message but there was nothing groundbreaking here for me. ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m not a huge fan of parenting books- there is seldom anything “new” or revolutionary. This book is less about advice and looking at global numbers. Vaccines - great. Infant crying - it’s awful and there’s not much you can do about it. Safe sleep - important, but looks at the data from an unemotional standpoint. Sleep training - doesn’t hurt the kid, can be good for everyone’s mental health. Breastfeeding - not as great as we pretend it is. Potty training - happens later than it used to, your k ...more
Nicole Coleman
Apr 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
I struggled with this book due to my background in child psychology. I felt that Emily had her own biases that she was trying to defend her own personal choices within this book. Yes, ultimately it is dependent on the parents' choice and parents that are likely to read this book will be the parents that are putting in the effort to their children, but I felt that she left a lot of science-based information out stating that there was no evidence when there is. I highly suggest people doing their ...more
Danielle McQueen
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
I loved Expecting Better, so I was super disappointed to not find this book very useful. I’m surprised she wrote it at all, given how few conclusions can be drawn from the studies she cites. The whole book could have been summarized in one sentence: “the data is unclear, so just do what’s best for you and your family.” I also found her biases sneaked through in a more off-putting way than with Expecting Better. In particular, it was frustrating that so many studies defined long-term outcomes by ...more
Manal Omar
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Now that Sultan and I are expecting, we decided to do much reading on parenting (and by that I mean i do the reading, he does the listening). This is my first parenting book, and I can say it passed with flying colors as a perfect starter!
Emily Oster writes about early parenthood, how to manage and deal with all the little stuff that nobody tells you about as a first-time parent, and she supports all of that with "excellent" data.
She also goes beyond the early months until preschool. Shedding
Gretchen Alice
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like I mentioned before, I’m not pregnant, I just dig science. And this is a pretty good compilation of research related to baby stuff, though a lot of the advice boils down to do what works for your family so both baby and parents are in a good mental head space to deal with the stress of having a new person. Also, vaccinate your kids, obviously.
Jillian Doherty
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a first time, new mom I was very interested in Oster's down to earth views on parenting, especially with her practical background. She quickly addresses common themes of not knowing what information to trust, and pointing out a better-established recourse.

Everything from the scary days after delivery, to what to do when nothing makes sense, to how to work toward better relationships with your partner. She also gives earnest information how all the practicality of newborn to toddler life - fro
Cribsheet is unique in the parenting books arena in that it provides a (mostly) unbiased perspective on a wide range of parenting decisions, allowing you to decide for yourself which option makes most sense for you and your family. While at times this got frustrating because a vast majority of areas had inconclusive evidence or very little research to base your decision on, resulting in very vague conclusions, overall I found this approach to be an interesting and engaging breath of fresh air.
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mostly not relevant for me anymore - with a 28-month old, I've already made most of the infant and toddler decisions discussed in this book. But, I love her approach and agree that data is interesting and empowering. I identified with her very much. My favorite chapter title: "Wait, you want me to take it home?" which is exactly how I felt when discharged from the hospital with a 2-day old infant. ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I knew that there's much shaming against women who are pregnant, but I found out the hard way that the aggression escalates when one becomes a parent, especially a mother. People do not discuss pros and cons of different choices regarding taking care of their children. When you make any decision, it doesn't matter if you go for option A or option B. There will always be people that will accuse you of abusing your child and destroying her or his future.

The author of this book examines scientific
Overall I appreciate this book SO MUCH for its sensible, nonjudgemental, and calm approach to parenting in the early years. In the intro Oster writes:

"We know being a parent means getting a lot of advice, but this advice is almost never accompanied by an explanation of *why* something is true or not, or to what degree we can even know it's true. And by not explaining why, we remove people's ability to think about these choices for themselves."

For those two sentences alone, I am pretty much will
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loooved Oster’s “Expecting Better” (and recommend it to every pregnant friend), and I waited months for “Cribsheet” to come out. This book has the same data-informed approach and friendly tone. However, it just didn’t seem like this book was packed with as many reassuring aha’s as Expecting Better was.

The fertility and pregnancy topics that Oster covered in EB were largely grounded in research that is hard for a layperson to find and even harder to interpret. By contrast, the early childhood
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Like Expecting Better while I was pregnant, Cribsheet summarized the start of the evidence on most of the things I spend my time thinking about these days. Thanks to Cribsheet, I gave my son a pacifier as soon as he got home from the hospital without worrying about"nipple confusion". He is already sleeping extremely well and isn't even old enough for sleep training, but it's nice to know it will be a reasonable option if he goes through a sleep regression later. I only wish the book were longer ...more
Michael Gunnulfsen
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Interesting and also terrifying to realize how much of the established truth we know about parenting is based on very poor research. Lots of good takeaways and helps to build a pragmatic parenting approach.
Despite a frustrating lack of conclusions, this book was interesting, and might have made a bigger impact on me if I had read it before having my first kid.

Reading it 3 years into my first and with a second on the way, it just confirmed a lot of what I have gathered and gleaned over the last 3 years: Data for MOST Mommy Wars subjects are inconclusive, and parents should ultimately do what’s right for them and their families. Glad the economist agrees. :)
Kara Bloemendaal
Apr 20, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Awesome parenting resource. The author hits hot topic issues and explains the research that’s been done on them in really simple ways, including where studies have fallen short in not taking some elements into consideration (like socioeconomic status). She also doesn’t tell the reader what to do, but instead gives all of the information and options available. She does a bullet point summary at the end of each chapter which is always a plus. As someone who believes in and parents based on both sc ...more
Mar 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
This is not necessarily a book you read in one sitting cover to cover because you tend to want to read the chapter as you hit the stage where it will be helpful, however I can say I read MOST of it (I skipped the chapter on how to breastfeed since I wasn't breastfeeding and skimmed the chapter on siblings as we are one-and-done, so keep that in mind.)

That said, this book definitely saved me when I was at my lowest. Self-flagellating about giving up on breastfeeding after 3 days? Emily Oster lays
Aug 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
I’ve heard rave reviews about this book from clients for years, so decided to check it out. 1/3 am f the way in and I am SO frustrated.

The intent of the book is excellent. I am completely behind examining the evidence to see what we actually can demonstrate to be helpful for improving outcomes for parents and babies. However, there are so many issues with this book that really take away from its validity and usefulness.

1. The author’s biases heavily influence her presentation and recommendatio
Mary Turner
Jun 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
I should start by saying that I read thoroughly only a few chapters. I do not like that the book is advertised as an objective/quantitative view of researched parenting topics, and really does not function that way. I am married to a scientist, and am aware of how research can be skewed and documents can be cherry picked as supporting evidence to theories. However, I was hoping this author would do a better job of keeping her subjective world view out of it, or be more transparent that she was m ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Not a ton of clear direction, but that’s really the point: The evidence on parenting decisions is often mixed or inconsequential, despite what we are told in the media or by our neighbors, friends, or family. I found it to be a bit of a relief.

My favorite part was actually the last page... maybe even the last sentence: “At the end, let’s raise a glass to using data where it’s useful, to making the right decisions for our families, to doing our best, and- sometimes- to just trying not to think a
Moh. Nasiri
It is my Blinkist read about parenting.
Cribsheet provides a unique and insightful perspective on early-childhood parenting – that of an economist. Given its focus on decision-making, cost and benefit analysis, risk assessment, and data interpretation, the academic discipline of economics provides a useful framework for thinking about the difficult decisions that new parents have to make when raising their babies.
(Blinkist summary)
Cirbsheet summarized the studies, or lack of studies, that guide the advice we received on a wide range of parenting topics. I like Oster's writing, and her summaries of findings changed my perceptions around some of the early parenting decisions we made (let alone understanding better what science backed up certain recommendations). It's also a good jumping off point to further reading for areas to go deeper. ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wish I came across this book a year and a half ago! As a spreadsheet lover and a somewhat paranoid at times, “helicopter” parent, this was incredibly insightful and soul nurturing. I just wish it had more in detail chapters on very specific topics and more data! 😂
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book just as much as I did Expecting Better. It will join EB as my #1 recommendation to anyone planning to get pregnant, pregnant, or with young kids.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Liked her first book a lot more. I did a BA in economics, so her more technical digressions made sense to me. Not sure if that would hold true for someone with no econ background. Also the stats basically amount to no one really know for sure. If you're pregnant and bored, read this. Otherwise, I'd skip or skim it. ...more
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Emily Oster is an American economist and bestselling author. After receiving a B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard in 2002 and 2006 respectively, Oster taught at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She later moved to Brown University, where she holds the rank of Professor of Economics. Her research interests span from development economics and health economics to research design and experi ...more

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