DiscoverParentData with Emily Oster
ParentData with Emily Oster
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ParentData with Emily Oster

Author: ParentData

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Parenting is full of decisions — starting the moment you learn you’re pregnant (sometimes before) and continuing indefinitely. For the past decade, Emily Oster has been a guide through the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood using data. She translates the latest scientific research into answers to the questions people have in their day-to-day lives. ParentData brings Emily together with other experts in areas of pregnancy and parenting to talk about some of the most complicated of these issues, from labor induction to food allergies to parenting through a divorce. Each conversation brings us closer to Emily’s mission: to create the most informed generation of parents by providing high-quality data that they can trust, whenever they need it.
48 Episodes
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Reading Rainbow. Reading is FUNdamental! Hooked on Phonics. We grew up steeped in a culture that encouraged reading. And in the past couple of years many U.S. states have embraced legislation about how kids are taught to read in school. The phrase that you may have heard is “science of reading,” as in “let’s make sure schools are using reading curricula based on science.” But what does that actually mean? And how would you, as a parent, know if your school was doing it?Today on ParentData, we're joined by journalist Emily Hanford, the host of the excellent podcast, Sold a Story. The topic of its first season was how reading is taught in American schools, and, for a lot of parents, it opened their eyes to the fact that there isn’t just one way to teach reading and that many schools weren’t doing it right. We talk about what the science says about the right approaches to reading, and then, more practically, about how parents can evaluate their own kids’ learning and whether the legislation we’re seeing is doing any good.Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Comedian and NPR mainstay Ophira Eisenberg wrestles with changing her kid’s school, and how to clean slime.Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
We’ve been hearing a lot about the teen mental health crisis — and there is no question that on a number of metrics, teens do seem to be struggling more than they have in the past. But is it really that bad? Is there a chance we’re overreacting to normal teenage feelings?Today on ParentData, we’re joined by Dr. Mathilde Ross, a psychiatrist at Boston University. Her view is, yes, sometimes we are overreacting. And more to the point, she thinks sometimes parents are the problem. We talk today about what she’s seeing in college kids, how parents can choose to step back, and how to embrace independence, in both your 17-year-old and 7-year-old.Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Have you ever panic-Googled a parenting question late at night? If so, you’re not alone. Most of us turn to that little search bar whenever fear or confusion strikes. On these ParentData mini-episodes, starting today, you’ll hear from some familiar names about the questions keeping them up at night, and how data can help.First up: actress Claire Holt and the difference between night terrors and nightmares (hopefully not about vampires).
Our kids need a glass of water. Or an extra hug. How do we get them to sleep? So much has been written about this with advice for exhausted parents. But it’s usually in the context of babies. Toddlers and older kids are a whole other ballgame. Today on ParentData, we’re joined by perhaps our most practical guest ever. Jessica Berk is a toddler and preschooler sleep consultant. Together, we answer your questions, talk about sleep strategies, and explore why sleep is so important not just for kids, but also for parents. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Book launch alert! We’re so proud to announce that “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is hitting the shelves April 30! Today on ParentData, Emily’s co-author, OB/GYN Dr. Nate Fox, returns to discuss the process of co-writing between two self-professed people-who-hate-group-projects, as well as how to have conversations with your doctor about pregnancy risks - and even just the whole idea of risk itself. Pick up a copy of “The Unexpected” wherever books are sold. And subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Hiring a doula for your birth is, quite simply, a great idea. They’re non-clinical, cost-effective, and, as many mothers will attest, one of the most valuable parts of the experience - a value that is supported by data. The decision to have one should be pretty easy. But actually crafting policy that captures that value is hard. Today on ParentData, we’re welcoming New York State Senator Samra Brouk, who is doing just that. Senator Brouk spearheaded an effort in New York to get doula services covered by Medicaid (which they now are, as of January 2024!). She explains her love of data, why doulas are important for maternal health - especially for Black women - and how to convince your older, perhaps non-doula-using colleagues that these issues matter. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
American kids are struggling. And there's a lot of discussion around the reasons why. Is it smartphones? Is it social media? Is it a hyper fixation on feelings and therapy? Today on ParentData, we’re releasing an episode of Good Inside with Dr. Becky, which Emily joined to discuss the latest book making the rounds in parenting circles, Abigail Shrier’s Bad Therapy. They delve into what parental authority is and what it isn't, how minimization of risk is not a life strategy for kids or adults, and how we can hold two things are true - we can be authorities who also come from a same-team approach with our kids. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
As a parent, it’s extremely easy to get very focused on “doing it right.” Which means, usually, doing what is considered “right” in your particular time and cultural context. And sometimes, amid this pressure, we need a little perspective. Human history is long, and what is considered right has changed a lot. Today on ParentData, we’re joined by author Jennifer Traig, who offers this perspective in spades. Her book “Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting” is a history of parenting (or at least child-rearing) from ancient Rome to Puritan New England to Dr. Spock. We’ve done it a lot of ways and we’re all still here…so we must be doing something right. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
We have all heard it takes a village to raise a child, but the reality is that many of us in the modern world, especially after the pandemic, are asking …well, where’s my village?! Where’s my community of people who will show up for me in joy, and in grief, and help me introduce my kids to a world that’s bigger than themselves? Today on ParentData, we welcome Rabbi Sharon Brous, whose book “The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend our Broken Hearts” is about just this: finding community, finding your people, sometimes in faith, sometimes not, but who always show up for you, in both the good times and the bad. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
In January, ParentData launched a new newsletter — Hot Flash — authored by Dr. Gillian Goddard. Hot Flash covers women’s health in the post-reproductive years. Think perimenopause and menopause, but also the late reproductive years, when you’re done having children but still, technically, might be able to do so. This week in Hot Flash, Gillian wrote about birth control at this stage — how do you think about birth control when you know it’s forever? Today on ParentData, Gillian joins us to walk through it all: from hormones to IUDs to surgeries. We talk about risks, benefits, trade-offs, and more. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Invisible labor. It’s the work — in our households especially — that has to happen but that no one sees. It’s making the doctor’s appointment, ensuring the Valentine’s cards are purchased, remembering the milk. When we think about equity in household labor, we often find that there are already inequities in the visible work, and they can become insurmountable when the invisible work is added in. Today on ParentData, Eve Rodsky joins with some solutions to this seemingly endless task list of problems. Her book, “Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live),” and the movement it’s inspired, aims to rebalance workloads and encourage hard conversations, saving time, sanity, and even marriages along the way. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Sex in long-term relationships, often after kids — it’s something many people struggle with. When we did a big ParentData survey on your sex lives, a lot of you expressed unhappiness, stress, and pressure about how much sex was the “right” amount, whether you were behind (or too far ahead!). Today on ParentData, Emily Nagoski — sex researcher and author of “Come Together: The Science (and Art!) of Creating Lasting Sexual Connections” —  is here to talk about taking that pressure off and redefining normal. We dive into the anxiety long-term couples face, how much sex everyone else is really having and how little that should matter for you and your partner, and how to evolve sexually… together. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Exercise. Whether you’re an athlete or just depend on activity for a little dose of sanity, the pregnancy and postpartum periods can knock you sideways and make you feel estranged from your own body. Today on ParentData, Megan Roche — researcher, podcaster, and trail runner machine — joins to discuss how to ease back into activity postpartum, why women’s health is understudied, and the value of carbohydrates. But the conversation goes beyond just sports. It’s also about how to return to the things you love to do after becoming a parent — and feel a little more like yourself. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Through coos and cries, babbles and thbbbbts, babies are learning how to communicate from the earliest days of life. Language development is a magical opportunity to watch a child learn to engage with both you and the world. It also feels highly consequential, and for so many parents, it’s an incredibly stressful milestone. Watching your kid learn to talk is at once neat and frustrating and harrowing, all the more so when we realize that even the experts are often scratching their heads about how it all works. Today on ParentData, Professor Michael Frank joins to explore the question of how children learn to speak. We talk about how language develops, the difference between receptive and expressive language, whether the pandemic had a significant impact, and which language is the hardest for kids to learn (spoiler alert: it’s Danish). Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Earlier this year, Emily interviewed Majka Burhardt, a professional ice climber (seriously) and the author of “More: Life on the Edge of Adventure and Motherhood,” a raw, gripping book about the first years of parenthood. The book has recently been released as an audiobook, and in this bonus episode of ParentData, we’re thrilled to share some clips and re-run the interview. Majka tackles the uncertainties and fears of parenting with the same clear-eyed intensity and grace as she tackles mountains, and we hope she offers you some inspiration over the holidays. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Grief can mean a lot of different things, from the loss of a loved one to the loss of a much-wanted pregnancy or marriage. It’s a heavy topic for the holidays, but this can also be a tough time when you’re dealing with loss. Today on ParentData, writer Marisa Renee Lee gets into the heart of grief - which, from a data perspective, will affect approximately 100% of us - in her book "Grief Is Love." She discusses the need for parents to give, and to take, while weathering the waves of loss, and love. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Labor induction did not used to be the norm, but it increasingly is. A big reason for this change is something called the ARRIVE trial, which was designed to test whether routine induction would increase the risk of cesarean section - which, according to the results, it did not. In the wake of the trial, with that concern limited, many more doctors began recommending inductions as routine. (This refers to inductions that are not done by medical necessity; in many cases, it is necessary to induce, sometimes earlier than 39 weeks, to protect the health of the mother or baby.) But this doesn’t work for everyone: some people would rather not be induced, and some researchers have argued that the results from ARRIVE actually do not hold up in the real world. Today on ParentData, Dr. Nathan Fox, an OB/GYN and co-author of Emily's upcoming book, The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications joins to discuss the ARRIVE trial, its clinical aftershocks, and the risks and benefits of letting nature take its course... or grabbing the steering wheel. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Self-care is everywhere. Bubble baths, massages, Instagram encouraging you to “take time for yourself.” Get up early to have coffee and meditate, or take a forest walk. It can get to the point where self-care itself is yet another thing to check off the to-do list. Send emails. Make lunches. Clean Cheerios off floor. Take forest walk. Today on ParentData, psychiatrist Dr. Pooja Lakshmin wants to push back on this performative, box-checking, crystals-and-baths form of self-care. Her book Real Self-Care: A Transformative Program for Redefining Wellness is about what it actually takes to create wellness for ourselves. She talks about setting boundaries, tuning out the critics, and what true self-care can mean to each of us. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
Earlier this year, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a new advisory about the effects of social media on the mental health of young people. These advisories are rare; we're used to seeing them on the sides of cigarette packs, where the negative health risks are indisputable. But social media and smartphones are more complicated. Today on ParentData, Dr. Murthy discusses the individual and systemic issues that led him to issue the advisory, and what he hopes, as both the nation's doctor and his kids’ father, it will accomplish. Subscribe to ParentData.org for free access to new articles every week on data-driven pregnancy and parenting.
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