Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide To Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth To Preschool, by Emily Oster
One of the most notable things that this book reveals, perhaps to the disadvantage of the author, is that in many aspects of parenting the data itself is interpreted based on what the particular person brings to the table. Over and over again the author offers a discussion on various contentious matters of the “mommy wars” and demonstrates that there are nuanced and complicated matters that are more determined on what assumptions and values and worldviews a given parent looks at a given issue than on the actual insights that one can gain from the data. Whether one looks at vaccines or breastfeeding, so many fights are not really dependent on the data itself but rather on one’s own beliefs and perspectives, and in this matter the author gives no help. The author clearly comes from the side of left-leaning privileged parents who greatly lack an understanding of the moral dimensions of parenting, about which this book gives no help. It should also go without saying, perhaps, that this book is aimed squarely at mothers because the author does not conceive that men could be interested in the subject of data-driven parenting and the way that a solid grasp of information can inform one’s decisions.
This book is about 300 pages long and is divided into four parts and 21 chapters. The author begins with an introduction that promotes her data-driven approach. After this there is a look at the period immediately after birth (I), looking at the first three days (1), taking the baby home from the hospital (2), and the author’s advice that mothers take the mesh underwear (3). After that there are nine chapters that deal with the first year of a newborn’s life (II), such as breastfeeding (4), including a how-to guide (5), sleep position and location (6), organizing a baby (7), vaccinations (8), staying at home or going to work for mothers (9), who should take care of the baby (10), sleep training (11), and introducing solid food (12). The third part of the book contains six chapters that look at the transition between baby and toddler (III), including chapters on physical milestone (13), edutainment for children (14), language development (15), potty training (16), toddler discipline (17), and education (18). The book then ends with three chapters on the home front (IV), including home politics (18), expansions (19), growing up and letting go (20), as well as acknowledgements, suggestions for further reading, notes, and an index.
This book is not nearly as good as the author thinks it is. Not only are the insights of data highly ambivalent and dependent on the initial conditions one brings to the available data, and not only are children highly different and frequently require an individual approach tailor-made to their own unique personalities, but the author herself has some major shortcomings in terms of her own perspective. She seems to think that someone only becomes a parent after the child is born, not realizing that parenting begins from conception in the womb. Frequently throughout the book there are various comments that indicate the general moral and ethical blindness of the author and her lack of knowledge about fundamental and biblical approaches to dealing with children, and a total lack of interest in questions of morality. She seems frustrated that parents fight over aspects of parenting and exasperated with those who have different worldviews and perspectives than she does, and seems quite blind to the way that her own worldview has conditioned her to parent a certain way and that other people will bring very different (and often better) approaches to the table. If you want a book by a permissive but data-driven leftist, something like the 538.com guide to parenting, this is your book, but it is not going to appeal to everyone.