44 Comments

The most practical advice: layer mattress protector, then sheet, then second mattress protector, then sheet on the crib mattress. That way when there's a middle of the night blowout you can just strip off the outer two layers.

Expand full comment

Happy #3 ParentData team! Thank you for all you do.

For The Advice Cards At Baby Showers, by Kate Baer:

“Baby socks don't matter, but more importantly-neither does advice. This is not a performance for your friend or your mother or the woman in line who tells you about coats. Experience will teach you two things: you are the mother and it's okay to let them go up the slide. Nothing in this world can prepare you for this love's suffering. For joy and loneliness.

For now just remember: birds sing, babies cry, and no matter the weather, every morning is new.“

Expand full comment
Feb 27Liked by Emily Oster

When sleep-training our second child, my best friend told me that she and her husband had used the fibonacci sequence to gradually extend the time between check-ins. It was great advice because it gave me something concrete to work with, it wasn't all or nothing, and it worked!

Also, with regard to potty training, our pediatrician told me, "You can potty train your child in one day... If you pick the right day." My advice on this topic is know that it's not a linear process... it's more of a spiral. It gets better, but you'll probably cycle back through some rough spots. It might feel like you're starting all over, but you're not. Keep going.

Expand full comment

Babies have 2 emotions:

1) Everything is great

2) Things could be better

…. and you just gotta figure out the second one

Expand full comment

My best parenting advice in one tip counters the "It's a phase" philosophy. It comes from the Baby Whisperer, I think. It is: "Start as you mean to go on." For example, if you want your kids to eat a lot of vegetables, start by giving a lot of vegetables. If you want them to always say please and thank you, start by having them say please and thank you as soon as they can sign/say it. I'm not saying those specific examples are super important, this advise applies to most anything about how you want your family to run and what your core values are.

Expand full comment

After reading this book, I give this piece of advice often: The range of normal is really wide.

I joke I wish that was on the discharge papers at the hospital. Some babies crawl at 6 months. Some at 9 months. Some at 11 months. Some babies walk at 10 months. Some at 14 months. Some babies sleep through the night at 6 weeks. Some are still waking at 16 months. It’s all normal. Just because you see a baby (allegedly) running a decathlon at 11 months in a Facebook group you belong to doesn’t mean that it’s abnormal for you baby still just be pulling up.

Expand full comment

Read parenting books! Books provide frameworks; Instagram just offers isolated ideas, and your instincts will only get you so far. Get book recommendations from people whose parenting style aligns with yours or whom you admire, in your life and online. I’ve read books prior to entering new stages (e.g., toddlerhood) or when I’ve exhausted all my tools trying to address a challenging behavior. This plus therapy has been key to me enjoying most (but not all!) of the early years of parenting.

Expand full comment

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Clean when the baby cleans.

Expand full comment
Feb 27·edited Feb 27

Best advice I got that I didn't see in the spreadsheet:

"Whatever sh*t you can mitigate, mitigate." From a lawyer friend, meaning: hire a housecleaner, send the kid to daycare or hire a nanny, get a handyman in to fix all the weird stuff in your house that's driving you crazy. Outsource whatever you can afford to. Don't be a hero (and/or miserable)! Whatever makes your life better probably makes the kid's life better, too.

Expand full comment

Getting out of the house does wonders if you (or your kid) is feeling frustrated/annoyed/bored/whatever. Even just a trip to the playground or the grocery store is a helpful reset.

(Someone just needs to invent an indoor playspace + brewery/bar combo and all of my problems will be solved)

Expand full comment

My daughter was/is extraordinarily challenging in so many ways and has been since birth, so every piece of advice I received did not fit and felt patronizing. The only advice that did not make me absolutely rabid was "do what works for you, and f*ck everybody else." My husband was a big fan of "if you were living alone in a cave, how would you parent?" ie, rely on your instincts and own philosophy.

Expand full comment

From my neighbor: only listen to about 10% of parenting advice you receive. Let all the rest go in one ear and out the other. Found my 10%!

Expand full comment

Our doula gave us the best advice: YOU CAN SHOWER YOUR NEWBORN. My oldest (3y) has had maybe a dozen baths in his life and my twins (6m) have literally never had a bath. They all cried the first time and then never again. (Showers feel good!)

Practical tips--have Parent A hold the baby in the shower while Parent B waits just outside with a dry towel. (If you have twins, repeat process with Baby B, and have a bouncer or safe spot to put Baby A meanwhile.) Yes, wet babies are slippery--keep your hand wrapped around one baby thigh for security!

Expand full comment

The most profound piece of advice I got was from my mom. She said at some point in your life you went from being a child to being an adult, and that process took years. The transition from "not a parent" to "parent" happens in a moment, and you just have to go for it. That helped me understand what I was going through emotionally in those first months.

The one piece of advice I like to give is--when you are putting your child in a car seat-- always look at the keys in your hand before you close the door. Don't *think* you have your keys in your pocket, physically look at and touch them. Locking your keys in the car on a summer afternoon can become a life-threatening situation in minutes if you ever forget them in the center console while strapping a wriggling toddler in a car seat.

Expand full comment

Come As You Are -- Emily, thank you for this rec in your recent newsletter about sex lives of parents. I got it from the library and instantly told my spouse he should read it/we should discuss, and shared with ALL of my friends who are parents and/or in long-term relationships. I appreciate this recommendation!! And would say it's about WHOLE lives, not just sex lives, and should be high on the recommended reading list for all parents!! Thank you.

Expand full comment
Feb 27·edited Feb 27

When I was pregnant with my first son (12+ years ago!) a professor I was TA-ing for said,

"Remember, as soon as they start crawling, you can no longer control, you can only influence! The sooner you accept that as a parent, they happier you will be."

It hit me as going to the heart of parenting--all you CAN do is influence, which isn't perfect or predictable and leaves room for the babies to add their individual flavors. The pressure we often place on ourselves to get it "just right" can be crippling. The advice respects the kiddos as whole, separate, sentient beings with their own agenda, will, needs, and perspectives and it relaxes the burden on the parents a tad.

I think of those words often and sometimes utter them to my mom (different generation:)) and can honestly say the advice has been wonderful for me, my son (almost 12) and now his younger brother (almost 1!!) as well. :)

Expand full comment