Cribsheet Book Summary - Cribsheet Book explained in key points
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Cribsheet summary

Emily Oster

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

3.2 (150 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

Cribsheet by Emily Oster is a data-driven parenting guide that challenges conventional wisdom. It debunks myths about sleep training, breastfeeding, and screen time, providing evidence-based advice that empowers parents to make informed decisions for their families.

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    It’s hard to make parenting decisions.

    The world of parenting advice is an incredibly confusing place, full of conflicting opinions on what to do and how to do it.

    If you’re a new parent, that’s true right from the get-go, when important questions and decisions confront you immediately after the birth of your child. For example, if your newborn baby is a boy, should you circumcise him? And if you’re the mother, should you “room” with him after birth – that is, have him sleep with you in your hospital room? Or should you send him to the hospital’s nursery?

    You might get completely contradictory answers to questions like these, depending on which friends, family members, doctors, journalists or online forums you ask. For instance, some will say that you should definitely circumcise; it’s medically beneficial. Others will say that it’s dangerous and unnecessary.  

    Adding to the confusion is the fact that both sides usually come armed with all sorts of evidence in favor of their positions, ranging from peer-reviewed scientific studies and established biological facts to personal anecdotes and that one newspaper article your aunt vaguely remembers reading a couple of years ago.

    Worse still, people don’t just give their advice to you in a neutral, take-it-or-leave-it sort of way. Instead, they deliver it laden with moral judgment. For example, if you’re a mother, it’s not just that some people think you should breastfeed your baby because the practical benefits outweigh the drawbacks; many of them think you’re an outright bad mother if you resort to feeding your baby with formula.

    Now, that would be a lot of confusion and pressure to deal with even under normal circumstances – but after you or your partner gives birth, you’re likely to be sleep-deprived, stressed and exhausted. The stakes, meanwhile, will feel incredibly high. After all, you’re trying to ensure the survival and welfare of the fragile little person who’s suddenly become the most important being in your life.

    So when you’re faced with questions like whether or not to breastfeed, circumcise or room with your baby, how can your frazzled mind figure out which answer is right?

    Well, if you approach these sorts of questions like an economist, you’ll see that the short answer is that there are never any “right” answers. Or, to be more precise, that’s simply the wrong way of framing the questions in the first place!

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    What is Cribsheet about?

    Cribsheet (2019) 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 surprisingly useful framework for thinking about the difficult decisions that new parents have to make when raising their babies.

    Cribsheet Review

    Cribsheet (2019) by Emily Oster is a practical and insightful examination of the data and research behind parenting choices. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With a refreshing data-driven approach, Oster debunks myths and offers evidence-based insights, empowering parents to make informed decisions.
    • It tackles a range of topics including breastfeeding, sleep training, and screen time with a balanced perspective, presenting pros and cons without judgment.
    • Oster's accessible writing style and relatable anecdotes make complex research digestible, ensuring that the book is anything but boring.

    Who should read Cribsheet?

    • Soon-to-be parents trying to think ahead about parenting decisions
    • Current parents already wrestling with those decisions  
    • Would-be parents wondering if they want to deal with those decisions in the first place

    About the Author

    Emily Oster is a professor of economics at Brown University, with a PhD in economics from Harvard University. She is the author of the provocative and controversial book Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know. She has written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Esquire, and she was also a speaker at the 2007 TED conference.

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    Cribsheet FAQs 

    What is the main message of Cribsheet?

    The main message of Cribsheet is to approach parenting decisions using evidence-based research and data.

    How long does it take to read Cribsheet?

    The reading time for Cribsheet varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Cribsheet a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Cribsheet is worth reading as it provides valuable insights backed by research, helping parents make informed decisions.

    Who is the author of Cribsheet?

    Emily Oster is the author of Cribsheet.

    What to read after Cribsheet?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Cribsheet, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
    • What’s Going on in There? by Lise Eliot
    • The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
    • No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
    • Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • HypnoBirthing by Marie F. Mongan
    • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
    • Tiny Humans, Big Emotions by Alyssa Gloria Campbell & Lauren Stauble
    • Moms on Call by Laura Hunter & Jennifer Walker
    • Raising Critical Thinkers by Julie Bogart