A follow-up to Expecting Better focusing on the first few years of parenthood and what some combination of data, studies, and rational rigor tells us about common crossroads (breastfeeding vs. formula, daycare vs. nanny, television vs. no television, et cetera.)

I found this a less compelling read than its predecessor through no fault of Oster — I think there's a little less concrete to say or take away from the corpus of scientific literature at hand, and this mostly served to re-inforce a few of our existing thoughts and heuristics for when we have kids as opposed to completely re-shaping our framing of parenthood.

More than anything, I think the take-away I had from this book was a simple but useful one: everything is an opportunity cost. There's very little inherent merit or demerit in a lot of choices one makes, and the real analyses have to be made within the context of the maelstorm — and the maelstrom is different for every family.



The most important thing is consistency: choose a method you can stick with, and stick with it.

This finding suggests that exposing children to peanuts early helps them avoid peanut allergies — and that these effects are big. In the wake of these peanut findings, the recommendations about exposure have changed completely. Early exposure to peanuts is now the normal recommendation, especially for children at risk for an allergy.

Finally, our intuitions should be informed by the economic idea of “opportunity cost of time.” If a child is watching TV, they are not doing something else. Depending on what that “something else” is, TV watching may be better or worse. Many studies of this emphasize that (for example) your kid can learn letters or vocabulary from Sesame Street, but they are better at learning those things from you. That’s almost certainly true, but … [i]f the alternative to an hour of TV is [instead] a frantic and unhappy parent yelling at their kid for an hour, there is good reason to think the TV might actually be better.

Lightning bolt
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