Bingo Square: Science (I’m hoping this can fall in this category since it says ‘economics is the science of decision-making’ and this book is full of data from studies backing up what she says.)
Having already written a bestseller about debunking pregnancy myths (Expecting Better, I missed that one while pregnant) Oster now tackles all the advice and information thrown at new parents. What can you take on board and what can you ignore? Are you really going to screw up your child based on these choices? (It feels like it most days.) She addresses big Mommy War type topics: Breastfeeding vs Formula; Co-sleeping vs Sleep Training; plus potty training and toddler discipline and a bunch of other issues that might keep parents up at night.
Using data collected from various studies across the world – and adding whether this data can be trusted/whether the study was well set up etc – she lays out how much weight you can put behind certain advice. For example, co-sleeping. This is not for me (I can’t imagine how anyone gets any sleep if their kid kicks about as much as mine do), and I always worried about the safety aspects, and while Oster states that there are some risks, you can lower these based on you own behaviours. It comes down to what you can live with and whether it’s co-sleep or no sleep. No one functions as a decent parent when sleep deprived.
Most of the sections are set up like this, and it can be a bit repetitive. Here’s a study, here’s why we can/can’t trust it, here’s what you can take away from it. Since mine are now toddlers (I’ve been on the hold list at the library for months!) I skipped certain bits that either didn’t apply to me anymore or didn’t interest me. I think that’s probably a good way to use this book, dip in for what you need to know and what might help put your mind at ease, and skip over everything else. And some of it does feel more anecdotal than others, so your mileage may vary on how much stock you put in her conclusions. I did feel like the potty training study she referred to was suspect, given my own experience with it. Too many variables not taken into account. Pesky kids.
And I think that’s the thing about parenting. All kids are different. And as parents the way we handle them are different. It’s why we become judgey of others and fear their judgements back. Because nothing is set in stone and there’s no one rule book and it’s just finding something that works for you and hoping for the best. Sometimes I really wish there was a handbook that explained what to do in any situation. This isn’t it, but it is helpful in putting your mind at ease about certain things. If you feed your kid formula they won’t grow up to be a dummy (or at least not cos of that). Sleep training isn’t harmful. Yes, please, for the love of god, vaccinate your children.