Is Montessori School Better?

Emily Oster

9 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Is Montessori School Better?

It depends on what you are trying to accomplish

Emily Oster

9 min Read

Last week, in writing about ParentData, I used preschool philosophy as an example of where I think our priors very strongly suggest it will not matter. My point was that this was a place where diving deep into the question wasn’t necessarily helpful.

However: as I wrote that, I started to get a little curious if there was more to say. This question of “preschool philosophy” feels closely related to a lot of other questions around the “best parenting philosophy.” Then we did a poll in last week’s subscriber AMA, and “Montessori” was the winner for topics.

Broadly, I would say the question people have is “Is Montessori school better?” Or replace “Montessori” with whatever parenting philosophy you want. Today I’m going to start with a dive into the limited data. And then I’ll explain why, in fact, that question is unanswerable and makes no sense to ask.

A note: This is a topic I know people have a lot of feelings on. In the end, a big conclusion here is the right question is closer to “Is this right for me?”. So please share your own thoughts in the comments.

Background on Montessori

Every preschool is slightly different. Your child’s preschool experience, if they have one, will be shaped largely by the teachers in the classroom and to a lesser extent by the materials and structure. When researchers talk about preschool philosophy, though, there are at least four broad categories that are identified: Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and “traditional,” where the last one is just … everything else.

It is beyond the scope of this post to go into detail about all of these (this paper is a good overall reference), but in broad terms: Waldorf emphasizes engagement with the natural world; Reggio Emilia emphasizes play; Montessori emphasizes child-led task choice, multi-age classrooms, and a particular set of materials.

These approaches to education are not limited to preschool — there are Montessori and Waldorf schools at older ages, too — though early childhood is where most people encounter them.

All three of these methods were developed in the early to mid-20th century in Europe. This context is relevant because they were largely developed in opposition to an experience of childhood that was, frankly, quite different than today. Montessori education emphasizes child-driven task choice; in the early 1900s in Italy, that idea was radical. In many American households, children already drive a lot of the choices.

Data (it’s limited)

There is a very limited body of analytic research on school philosophy, and it mostly focuses on Montessori. At the most basic level, there are papers that compare children who go to Montessori preschools with other children. This exercise is effectively meaningless given the differences across these groups. Yes, the kids who go to Montessori test better later, but they are also advantaged in all kinds of other difficult-to-control-for ways.

There is one frequently cited paper that makes a stronger claim to causality. The paper, published in Science in 2006, used a randomized school lottery to evaluate the relationship between attending a Montessori school and student outcomes. (Families applied to an oversubscribed Montessori school; the paper compares children who ended up in the Montessori school with a set of lottery losers who did not.)

This paper finds some evidence of better phonics performance and executive function in 5-year-olds in the Montessori school. For example, the Montessori children performed better on a card sorting task. They also were less likely to be involved in physical aggression (such as “wrestling without smiling”) during recess. (I’m focused here on early schooling, but I will note that among the 12-year-olds, the paper did not find any differences in academic performance.)

However, despite the attention paid to it, the paper isn’t a slam dunk on the methods. First, the sample is small: there are only 25 5-year-olds in the Montessori group and 30 in the control group. Second, the authors’ empirical approach falls short of the typical randomized school lottery design.

In a standard school lottery design, researchers identify a set of applicants, observe their lottery results, and then compare the outcomes of the lottery winners with the lottery losers. They do this comparison regardless of whether the students attended the school they won the lottery for. The reason this is important is because it is the lottery outcome that is randomized — the ability to attend the school. Whether they actually choose to attend the school isn’t random.

This paper doesn’t do that — it compares children who won the lottery and attended the school with those who lost the lottery and did not. This has an element of the random variation but is actually not random, and the claim to causality is weak.

Perhaps better is this study, which compares children in French preschools who were randomly assigned to either Montessori or traditional classrooms. The authors find no differences in math, social skills, or executive function. They do find higher reading scores in the Montessori kids in kindergarten. The differences are small, the sample sizes are also small, and this is obviously a very specific situation.

I could go on. I could also dive into the even more limited research on Waldorf schooling. We have, for example, a dissertation that argues that students in Waldorf schools in Germany evince more “creative thinking” than their peers in traditional schools.

The overall picture is limited data-based evidence to point to anything in particular, and certainly nothing that would be obviously influential in any individual parent case.

However: the problem with our original question — “Is Montessori school better?” — is far bigger than the limited data.

Big-picture issue 1: Dilution

The first issue is dilution. When Montessori was first introduced, it was totally unique — completely different from what had been done before. Maria Montessori was working with children in the slums of Italy in her school. The same is true of many of these other philosophies — Waldorf education was created for the children of factory workers in Germany, where we have to imagine the alternative education system was either nonexistent or limited in its creative pursuits.

At that time, it would have been easier to conclusively think about “Montessori” versus “other.” Over time, though, preschools (and schools in general) have adopted versions of all of these approaches. Many schools use Montessori materials. Many schools even have mixed-age classrooms, even if they are not explicitly linked to Montessori. Many schools engage with a lot of outside nature time, even if they are not explicitly Waldorf. Many preschools have a lot of free, child-driven play, even if they are not explicitly Reggio Emilia–linked.

This evolution means that it’s harder to think about preschools being in any particular bucket. It also means that any differences that might be there if everything was black and white are likely to be shrunk. Even if there is some difference between rigorously implemented Montessori and a classroom with no Montessori elements at all, the choice many parents face is closer to one classroom with more Montessori elements and one with less, but both with some.

Paradoxically, this factor could reverse any initial advantage. Imagine that Montessori is a collection of practices, some of which are really important and others which are less valuable or even negative. Over time, we might imagine the best practices will spill out into the wider world. It may then be that the better classrooms are the ones that are able to pick and choose. All of this is hard to evaluate empirically.

This means that when we ask “Is Montessori school better?” the concept of “Montessori school” is already very squishy.

Big-picture 2: Evaluation approaches

The second deep issue is in what we are evaluating. Kids of any age are going to learn what you focus on teaching them. With older kids, there is typically a set curriculum within a school. This makes it easier to talk about differences in achievement: everyone is supposed to learn a particular set of math skills, so it makes sense to ask if some approaches allow them to do so more effectively.

With young kids, though, there is a lot more variation in what we are trying to teach or accomplish. A different focus will lead to different outcomes.

For example: imagine I started a preschool focused on marine life. Everything we did would be oriented around understanding fish and octopuses and other sea creatures. At the end of two years in preschool, my students would know a lot about marine life and would (I venture) perform very well on a test about sea animals. However, they’d do very poorly on a test that was about letters or, say, land animals.

Relative to some other approaches, Montessori education emphasizes letters, and also sorting and categorizing tasks. One of the key papers cited above shows that 5-year-olds who have had this type of education are better at a card sorting task. This shouldn’t be surprising — they’ve been in an environment with a sorting task focus! Similarly, there is a paper above that shows that those in Waldorf education are more likely to think creatively — again, this is what the method emphasizes, so it doesn’t seem surprising.

When we say “Is Montessori school better?”: “better” may simply be undefined. If your goal is letter recognition at age 5, Montessori could possibly have an edge. If your goal is nature knowledge, Waldorf might. For many of us, the goal of preschool is largely socialization, learning to exist in a classroom with others, fun, child care. For that, the preschool might matter, but its philosophy isn’t likely to.

Conclusion

I think many of these same points could be applied to other questions of parenting philosophy. “Is attachment parenting better?” Bad question! What is attachment parenting? Is baby wearing enough? Do I also have to co-sleep? What’s the alternative? And similarly, what do we mean by better? If my goal is to have my child sleep in their own room, it’s not better! If my goal is to breastfeed for an extended period, maybe it is better.

In the end, as in a lot of parenting, the “Is this type of preschool better?” question is impossible to answer without first thinking about what you are trying to accomplish and what your family preferences and constraints are.

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We are better writers than influencers, I promise. Thanks to our kids for filming our unboxing videos. People make this look way too easy. 

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We are better writers than influencers, I promise. Thanks to our kids for filming our unboxing videos. People make this look way too easy.

Only two weeks until our book “The Unexpected” is here! Preorder at the link in my bio. 💙
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While doctors have long said Tylenol was safe, confusing studies, panic headlines, and even a lawsuit have continually stoked fears in parents. As a result, many pregnant women have chosen not to take it, even if it would help them.

This is why good data is so important! When we can trust the data, we can trust our choices. And this study shows there is no blame to be placed on pregnant women here. So if you have a migraine or fever, please take your Tylenol.

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Exciting news! We have new, high-quality data that says it’s safe to take Tylenol during pregnancy and there is no link between Tylenol exposure and neurodevelopmental issues in kids. Comment “Link” for a DM to an article exploring this groundbreaking study.

While doctors have long said Tylenol was safe, confusing studies, panic headlines, and even a lawsuit have continually stoked fears in parents. As a result, many pregnant women have chosen not to take it, even if it would help them.

This is why good data is so important! When we can trust the data, we can trust our choices. And this study shows there is no blame to be placed on pregnant women here. So if you have a migraine or fever, please take your Tylenol.

#tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancyhealth #pregnancytips #parentdata #emilyoster
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How many words should kids say — and when? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about language development!

For this graph, researchers used a standardized measure of vocabulary size. Parents were given a survey and checked off all the words and sentences they have heard their child say.

They found that the average child—the 50th percentile line—at 24 months has about 300 words. A child at the 10th percentile—near the bottom of the distribution—has only about 50 words. On the other end, a child at the 90th percentile has close to 600 words. One main takeaway from these graphs is the explosion of language after fourteen or sixteen months. 

What’s valuable about this data is it can give us something beyond a general guideline about when to consider early intervention, and also provide reassurance that there is a significant range in this distribution at all young ages. 

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How many words should kids say — and when? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about language development!

For this graph, researchers used a standardized measure of vocabulary size. Parents were given a survey and checked off all the words and sentences they have heard their child say.

They found that the average child—the 50th percentile line—at 24 months has about 300 words. A child at the 10th percentile—near the bottom of the distribution—has only about 50 words. On the other end, a child at the 90th percentile has close to 600 words. One main takeaway from these graphs is the explosion of language after fourteen or sixteen months.

What’s valuable about this data is it can give us something beyond a general guideline about when to consider early intervention, and also provide reassurance that there is a significant range in this distribution at all young ages.

#cribsheet #emilyoster #parentdata #languagedevelopment #firstwords
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I saw this and literally laughed out loud 😂 Thank you @adamgrant for sharing this gem! Someone let me know who originally created this masterpiece so I can give them the proper credit.

I saw this and literally laughed out loud 😂 Thank you @adamgrant for sharing this gem! Someone let me know who originally created this masterpiece so I can give them the proper credit. ...

Perimenopause comes with a whole host of symptoms, like brain fog, low sex drive, poor energy, and loss of muscle mass. These symptoms can be extremely bothersome and hard to treat. Could testosterone help? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about the data on testosterone treatment for women in perimenopause.

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Perimenopause comes with a whole host of symptoms, like brain fog, low sex drive, poor energy, and loss of muscle mass. These symptoms can be extremely bothersome and hard to treat. Could testosterone help? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about the data on testosterone treatment for women in perimenopause.

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Summer is quickly approaching! You might be wondering if it’s the right time to have your kid start swim lessons. The AAP recommends starting between 1 and 4 years old. This is largely based on a randomized trial where young children were put into 8 or 12 weeks of swim lessons. They found that swimming ability and water safety reactions improve in both groups, and more so in the 12 weeks group.

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Most importantly, no matter how old your kid is or how good of a swimmer they are, adult supervision is always necessary!

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What age is best to start swim lessons? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about water safety for children 💦

Summer is quickly approaching! You might be wondering if it’s the right time to have your kid start swim lessons. The AAP recommends starting between 1 and 4 years old. This is largely based on a randomized trial where young children were put into 8 or 12 weeks of swim lessons. They found that swimming ability and water safety reactions improve in both groups, and more so in the 12 weeks group.

Below this age range though, they are too young to actually learn how to swim. It’s fine to bring your baby into the pool (if you’re holding them) and they might like the water. But starting formal safety-oriented swim lessons before this age isn’t likely to be very helpful.

Most importantly, no matter how old your kid is or how good of a swimmer they are, adult supervision is always necessary!

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Like with most things, moderation is key! Avoid very salty chips or olives or saltines with your infant. But if you’re doing baby-led weaning, it’s okay for them to share your lightly salted meals. Your baby does not need their own, unsalted, chicken if you’re making yourself a roast. Just skip the super salty stuff.

 #emilyoster #parentdata #childnutrition #babynutrition #foodforkids

Can babies have salt? 🧂 While babies don’t need extra salt beyond what’s in breast milk or formula, the risks of salt toxicity from normal foods are minimal. There are concerns about higher blood pressure in the long term due to a higher salt diet in the first year, but the data on these is not super compelling and the differences are small.

Like with most things, moderation is key! Avoid very salty chips or olives or saltines with your infant. But if you’re doing baby-led weaning, it’s okay for them to share your lightly salted meals. Your baby does not need their own, unsalted, chicken if you’re making yourself a roast. Just skip the super salty stuff.

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Among parenting topics, sleep training is one of the most divisive. Ultimately, it’s important to know that studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of sleep training show no evidence of harm. The data actually shows it can improve infant sleep and lower parental depression.

Even so, while sleep training can be a great option, it will not be for everyone. Just as people can feel judged for sleep training, they can feel judged for not doing it. Engaging in any parenting behavior because it’s what’s expected of you is not a good idea. You have to do what works best for your family! If that’s sleep training, make a plan and implement it. If not, that’s okay too.

What’s your experience with sleep training? Did you feel judged for your decision to do (or not do) it?

#sleeptraining #newparents #babysleep #emilyoster #parentdata

Is sleep training bad? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article breaking down the data on sleep training 😴

Among parenting topics, sleep training is one of the most divisive. Ultimately, it’s important to know that studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of sleep training show no evidence of harm. The data actually shows it can improve infant sleep and lower parental depression.

Even so, while sleep training can be a great option, it will not be for everyone. Just as people can feel judged for sleep training, they can feel judged for not doing it. Engaging in any parenting behavior because it’s what’s expected of you is not a good idea. You have to do what works best for your family! If that’s sleep training, make a plan and implement it. If not, that’s okay too.

What’s your experience with sleep training? Did you feel judged for your decision to do (or not do) it?

#sleeptraining #newparents #babysleep #emilyoster #parentdata
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Does your kid love to stall right before bedtime? 💤 Tell me more about their tactics in the comments below!

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Does your kid love to stall right before bedtime? 💤 Tell me more about their tactics in the comments below!

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Having this realization, accepting it, reminding ourselves of it, can help us make the hard decisions and accurately weigh the risks and benefits of our choices.

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Got a big decision to make? 🤔 Comment “Link” for a DM to read about my easy mantra for making hard choices.

When we face a complicated problem in pregnancy or parenting, and don’t like either option A or B, we often wait around for a secret third option to reveal itself. This magical thinking, as appealing as it is, gets in the way. We need a way to remind ourselves that we need to make an active choice, even if it is hard. The mantra I use for this: “There is no secret option C.”

Having this realization, accepting it, reminding ourselves of it, can help us make the hard decisions and accurately weigh the risks and benefits of our choices.

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...

Excuse the language, but I have such strong feelings about this subject! Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning as a mother. People pressure you to breastfeed and, in the same breath, shame you for doing it in public. Which is it?!

So yes, they’re being completely unreasonable. You should be able to feed your baby in peace. What are some responses you can give to someone who tells you to cover up? Share in the comments below ⬇️

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Excuse the language, but I have such strong feelings about this subject! Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning as a mother. People pressure you to breastfeed and, in the same breath, shame you for doing it in public. Which is it?!

So yes, they’re being completely unreasonable. You should be able to feed your baby in peace. What are some responses you can give to someone who tells you to cover up? Share in the comments below ⬇️

#breastfeeding #breastfeedinginpublic #breastfeedingmom #motherhood #emilyoster
...

Potty training can feel like a Mount Everest-size challenge, and sadly, our evidence-based guidance is poor. So, I created a survey to collate advice and feedback on success from about 6,000 participants.

How long does potty training take? We found that there is a strong basic pattern here: the later you wait to start, the shorter time it takes to potty train. On average, people who start at under 18 months report it takes them about 12 weeks for their child to be fully trained (using the toilet consistently for both peeing and pooping). For those who start between 3 and 3.5, it’s more like nine days. Keep in mind that for all of these age groups, there is a range of length of time from a few days to over a year. Sometimes parents are told that if you do it right, it only takes a few days. While that is true for some people, it is definitely not the norm.

If you’re in the throes of potty training, hang in there! 

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlerlife

Potty training can feel like a Mount Everest-size challenge, and sadly, our evidence-based guidance is poor. So, I created a survey to collate advice and feedback on success from about 6,000 participants.

How long does potty training take? We found that there is a strong basic pattern here: the later you wait to start, the shorter time it takes to potty train. On average, people who start at under 18 months report it takes them about 12 weeks for their child to be fully trained (using the toilet consistently for both peeing and pooping). For those who start between 3 and 3.5, it’s more like nine days. Keep in mind that for all of these age groups, there is a range of length of time from a few days to over a year. Sometimes parents are told that if you do it right, it only takes a few days. While that is true for some people, it is definitely not the norm.

If you’re in the throes of potty training, hang in there!

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlerlife
...

For children or adults with severe food allergies, they can be incredibly scary and restrictive. We may imagine that it’s easy to deal with a peanut allergy by, say, not eating peanut butter sandwiches. But for someone with a severe version of this allergy, they may never be able to go to a restaurant, for fear of a severe reaction to something in the air. Right now, there’s only one approved treatment for severe allergies like this and it’s limited to peanuts.

This is why the new medication Xolair is very exciting. It promises a second possible treatment avenue and one that works for other allergens. A new trail analyzed data from 177 children with severe food allergies. Two-thirds of the treatment group were able to tolerate the specified endpoint, versus just 7% of the placebo group. This is a very large treatment effect, and the authors found similarly large impacts on other allergens. 

There are some caveats: This treatment won’t work for everyone. (One-third of participants did not respond to it.) Additionally, this treatment is an injection given every two to four weeks, indefinitely. This may make it less palatable to children. 

Overall, even with caveats, this is life-changing news for many families!

#xolair #foodallergies #allergies #peanutallergy #emilyoster #parentdata

For children or adults with severe food allergies, they can be incredibly scary and restrictive. We may imagine that it’s easy to deal with a peanut allergy by, say, not eating peanut butter sandwiches. But for someone with a severe version of this allergy, they may never be able to go to a restaurant, for fear of a severe reaction to something in the air. Right now, there’s only one approved treatment for severe allergies like this and it’s limited to peanuts.

This is why the new medication Xolair is very exciting. It promises a second possible treatment avenue and one that works for other allergens. A new trail analyzed data from 177 children with severe food allergies. Two-thirds of the treatment group were able to tolerate the specified endpoint, versus just 7% of the placebo group. This is a very large treatment effect, and the authors found similarly large impacts on other allergens.

There are some caveats: This treatment won’t work for everyone. (One-third of participants did not respond to it.) Additionally, this treatment is an injection given every two to four weeks, indefinitely. This may make it less palatable to children.

Overall, even with caveats, this is life-changing news for many families!

#xolair #foodallergies #allergies #peanutallergy #emilyoster #parentdata
...

If you have a fever during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol, both because it will make you feel better and because of concerns about fever in pregnancy (although these are also overstated).

The evidence that suggests risks to Tylenol focuses largely on more extensive exposure — say, taking it for more than 28 days during pregnancy. There is no credible evidence, even correlational, to suggest that taking it occasionally for a fever or headache would be an issue.

People take Tylenol for a reason. For many people, the choice may be between debilitating weekly migraines and regular Tylenol usage. The impacts studies suggest are very small. In making this decision, we should weigh the real, known benefit against the suggestion of this possible risk. Perhaps not everyone will come out at the same place on this, but it is crucial we give people the tools to make the choice for themselves.

#emilyoster #parentdata #tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancytips

If you have a fever during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol, both because it will make you feel better and because of concerns about fever in pregnancy (although these are also overstated).

The evidence that suggests risks to Tylenol focuses largely on more extensive exposure — say, taking it for more than 28 days during pregnancy. There is no credible evidence, even correlational, to suggest that taking it occasionally for a fever or headache would be an issue.

People take Tylenol for a reason. For many people, the choice may be between debilitating weekly migraines and regular Tylenol usage. The impacts studies suggest are very small. In making this decision, we should weigh the real, known benefit against the suggestion of this possible risk. Perhaps not everyone will come out at the same place on this, but it is crucial we give people the tools to make the choice for themselves.

#emilyoster #parentdata #tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancytips
...

Parenting trends are like Cabbage Patch Kids: they’re usually only popular because a bunch of people are using them! Most of the time, these trends are not based on new scientific research, and even if they are, that new research doesn’t reflect all of what we’ve studied before.

In the future, before hopping onto the latest trend, check the data first. Unlike Cabbage Patch Kids, parenting trends can add a lot of unnecessary stress and challenges to your plate. What’s a recent trend that you’ve been wondering about?

#parentdata #emilyoster #parentingtips #parentingadvice #parentinghacks

Parenting trends are like Cabbage Patch Kids: they’re usually only popular because a bunch of people are using them! Most of the time, these trends are not based on new scientific research, and even if they are, that new research doesn’t reflect all of what we’ve studied before.

In the future, before hopping onto the latest trend, check the data first. Unlike Cabbage Patch Kids, parenting trends can add a lot of unnecessary stress and challenges to your plate. What’s a recent trend that you’ve been wondering about?

#parentdata #emilyoster #parentingtips #parentingadvice #parentinghacks
...

As of this week, 1 million copies of my books have been sold. This feels humbling and, frankly, unbelievable. I’m so thankful to those of you who’ve read and passed along your recommendations of the books.

When I wrote Expecting Better, I had no plan for all of this — I wrote that book because I felt compelled to write it, because it was the book I wanted to read. As I’ve come out with more books, and now ParentData, I am closer to seeing what I hope we can all create. That is: a world where everyone has access to reliable data, based on causal evidence, to make informed, confident decisions that work for their families.

I’m so grateful you’re all here as a part of this, and I want to thank you! If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to sign up for full access to ParentData, this is it. ⭐️ Comment “Link” for a DM with a discount code for 20% off of a new monthly or annual subscription to ParentData! 

Thank you again for being the best community of readers and internet-friends on the planet. I am so lucky to have you all here.

#parentdata #emilyoster #expectingbetter #cribsheet #familyfirm #parentingcommunity

As of this week, 1 million copies of my books have been sold. This feels humbling and, frankly, unbelievable. I’m so thankful to those of you who’ve read and passed along your recommendations of the books.

When I wrote Expecting Better, I had no plan for all of this — I wrote that book because I felt compelled to write it, because it was the book I wanted to read. As I’ve come out with more books, and now ParentData, I am closer to seeing what I hope we can all create. That is: a world where everyone has access to reliable data, based on causal evidence, to make informed, confident decisions that work for their families.

I’m so grateful you’re all here as a part of this, and I want to thank you! If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to sign up for full access to ParentData, this is it. ⭐️ Comment “Link” for a DM with a discount code for 20% off of a new monthly or annual subscription to ParentData!

Thank you again for being the best community of readers and internet-friends on the planet. I am so lucky to have you all here.

#parentdata #emilyoster #expectingbetter #cribsheet #familyfirm #parentingcommunity
...

Just eat your Cheerios and move on.

Just eat your Cheerios and move on. ...

The AAP’s guidelines recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby “ideally for the first six months.” However, the risk of SIDS is dramatically lower after four months, and the evidence in favor of the protective effect of room sharing is quite weak (both overall and even more so after four months). There is also growing evidence that infants who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better at four months, better at nine months, and even better at 30 months.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking why this recommendation continues at all — or at least why the AAP doesn’t push it back to four months. They say decreased arousals from sleep are linked to SIDS, which could mean that babies sleeping in their own room is risky. But this link is extremely indirect, and they do not show direct evidence to support it.

According to the data we have, parents should sleep in the same room as a baby for as long as it works for them! Sharing a room with a child may have negative impacts on both child and adult sleep. We should give families more help in navigating these trade-offs and making the decisions that work best for them.

#emilyoster #parentdata #roomsharing #sids #parentingguide

The AAP’s guidelines recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby “ideally for the first six months.” However, the risk of SIDS is dramatically lower after four months, and the evidence in favor of the protective effect of room sharing is quite weak (both overall and even more so after four months). There is also growing evidence that infants who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better at four months, better at nine months, and even better at 30 months.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking why this recommendation continues at all — or at least why the AAP doesn’t push it back to four months. They say decreased arousals from sleep are linked to SIDS, which could mean that babies sleeping in their own room is risky. But this link is extremely indirect, and they do not show direct evidence to support it.

According to the data we have, parents should sleep in the same room as a baby for as long as it works for them! Sharing a room with a child may have negative impacts on both child and adult sleep. We should give families more help in navigating these trade-offs and making the decisions that work best for them.

#emilyoster #parentdata #roomsharing #sids #parentingguide
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