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

Penguin Press,

15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

New parents facing numerous confusing choices can find answers in research-based data.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Scientific
  • Well Structured


From the moment your baby arrives, you face big decisions. You want to do what’s best, but advice from family, friends, experts and the internet often conflicts. Economist Emily Oster combed through hundreds of studies on early parenting and identified which produced the most reliable results. She debunks parenting myths and uncovers misinformation you can discard. Armed with trustworthy data, Oster helps you choose what works best for your family and your baby.


Solid data and a framework for decision-making enable you to choose what is right for your family.

From the moment you give birth, you face endless decisions about your baby’s best care. When you seek advice, everyone has a different opinion. The internet causes more confusion than it offers valuable help, and so-called experts conflict. The research-based information that follows indicates what the data say about common issues in the early years of parenting.

Solid, reliable research analyzes the effects of one factor when all other factors remain constant. Randomized, controlled trials compare a “treated” group to a “control” group. Observational studies compare one group to another without controlling all variables. Case-control studies gather data on a specific group – say, children who read early – to ascertain what factors contribute to that behavior. In general, these studies prove less reliable than the others. Anecdotal evidence refers to one experience or the things people say, such as, “My friend breastfed her six kids, and they all went to Harvard!” As statisticians are quick to note, “Anecdote is not data.”

About the Author

Professor of economics at Brown University and mother of two Emily Oster also wrote Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know.

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