Emily Oster, PhD, professor of economics and mother of two, delved into the data to help moms-to-be make decisions about their pregnancies in her first book. Now she applies that same evidence-based lens to early childhood so new parents can weigh their options on everything from breastfeeding to daycare to potty training.
In Cribsheet (Penguin Press), Oster stresses that most choices are just that: choosing what works best, for baby and family. Take co-sleeping: she reviews the literature, suggests factors to consider, and explains what it means to minimize risk. For some, the benefits of bed sharing will outweigh the risks; this book arms parents with the information they need to choose.
Oster presents her findings in an approachable, nonintimidating way. She gives weight to the recommendations of medical societies—as well as the advice of her pediatrician, who tells the bleary-eyed author as she spins with anxiety in her office: don’t worry so much.
Sometimes, Oster writes, data need to take a back seat to being present and happy with the kids; “there will be many times that you need to just trust that if you’re doing your best, that’s all you can do.”