Race in Children’s Books

Emily Oster

9 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Race in Children’s Books

Dr. Anjali Adukia on measuring representation and inclusion

Emily Oster

9 min Read

I have known Dr. Anjali Adukia for many years — we overlapped briefly at the University of Chicago, where she is on the faculty at the Harris School of Public Policy, and also, all economists know each other. This fall, she was out at Brown giving a talk about her work on the representation of race and gender in children’s books. The paper (which you can see here and has a number of co-authors) is fascinating both for its methods and its content. So I thought you’d like to hear about it. Our conversation by email is below. Enjoy!


Emily:

Anjali! Thank you so much for doing this. I’m really excited to get to talk about the paper.

I want to start by asking you to give an “elevator pitch” for the work. (This ask makes me think back to the academic job market in economics, in which all the interviews were in hotels and we all prepped our pitches in case somehow we ended up in the elevator with Guido Imbens or Amy Finkelstein and had 30 seconds to impress them. I’m no Amy Finkelstein, but I’ll take the 30-second version anyway!)

Anjali:

Hi, Emily, thank you for reaching out! It’s fun to be in conversation with you. With so much having gone virtual, it makes me wonder what the Zoom equivalent of the elevator pitch is nowadays 🙂

Caregivers deeply want to do the best they can for the children in their worlds, and there is a desire to expose children to a range of ideas and experiences. Who is represented — and how they are represented — in children’s books transmits not only the values of society but also whose space it is. The presence and absence of characters of various identities send implicit and explicit messages that contribute to how children see their own potential and the potential of others, which can, in turn, shape subconscious defaults. But while there is some consensus that representation matters, how do you measure it systematically? Even in a world where parents (and publishers) are tuned into this issue, they often don’t know how to address it or they lack the practical tools to systematically identify inclusionary materials.

In this initial study (joint with Alex Eble, Emileigh Harrison, Hakizumwami Birali Runesha, and Teodora Szasz), we we have two main contributions:

(1) We develop and apply tools to systematically measure representation in children’s books. Specifically, we advance machine-based content analysis by developing new tools that convert images into data and apply them alongside established text analysis tools.

(2) We then use these tools to measure the representation of race, gender, and age in children’s books that have won prestigious awards in the U.S. over the past century. These books are important because they are a central part of the “children’s canon” of literature. In particular, books that won Newbery or Caldecott awards (we call these “mainstream” awards) are more than twice as likely to get checked out or purchased than other children’s books. It makes sense — these books have been sanctioned as having “high literary value” and are prominently showcased in school classrooms and libraries. The conspicuous medal on their covers signals an implicit seal of approval for parents.

What do we find? In research, we draw information from many sources, but we really are leaving data on the table by not analyzing images. We see that computers not only enable cost-effective content analysis, but they also mitigate human bias when trying to classify the skin color of characters that are shown. Importantly, we find inequality in the representation of race, gender, and age on many dimensions. Highly popular mainstream books (those that won Newbery or Caldecott awards) are more likely to show characters with lighter skin, even within the same racial group, than other books that explicitly center underrepresented identities. Children are more likely to be shown with lighter skin than adults, which is concerning in a society where Black children are treated as older than they are and where youth is equated with innocence, and then following that train of logic, innocence is then implicitly equated with lightness, or whiteness.

We see that mainstream books are more male-centered than books that are recognized for highlighting females or are female-centered. Moreover, females are more likely to be represented in images than in text, consistent with the maxim that women should “be seen more than heard.” This suggests there may be symbolic inclusion in pictures without substantive inclusion in the actual story. Males, especially white males, are more likely to be present, regardless of data source: pronouns, gendered words, character names, famous people, geography, or images.

I didn’t see myself in the world around me growing up, and I was surprised to see how things have — and have not — changed in the books read by my kids.

Emily:

I feel like the Zoom elevator pitch equivalent is finding someone in that Gather app and randomly talking to them (or, wait, is my job the only one that uses Gather for parties? anyway).

This is super-interesting; I want to unpack a bit. To give people some context, there is an existing literature on text analysis, which basically takes the text of anything — a book, a congressional speech, etc. — and uses it as data. This is a space my husband has worked in, actually. You can think about questions like “How do Republican and Democratic congresspeople speak differently?” Or, more relevant to your space, questions like “How does the language around race in kids’ books change over time?”

I think what you do is really unusual in the sense of using not only the text but the images also. That’s especially salient in kids’ books, where pictures can be a big part of the experience. So, as I understand it, you’re effectively trying to code the images and make them into some kind of data. This seems hard. With text, we can count words. With images — do you count pixels? Can you give us a specific example of what you try to measure and how you actually implement this?

Anjali:

Gather is awesome! In the pandemic, my younger child (who had just turned 4 when the pandemic began) thought part of my job was “playing Gather,” and she thought it was so cool that she asked for a hide-and-seek party for her birthday using the platform.

The field of computer vision has been trying to figure out this very problem: How can you make a computer draw meaningful information from images? In other words, how can you make a computer “see” what a human sees when viewing images? In our case, what can computers do better than what individual humans can do?

For one, they can systematically classify skin color! What one’s skin color is is a philosophical question. Is it what’s in the shadows, in the light? Or is it some sort of weighted average of all of the different colors that make up one’s skin? When we asked a set of humans to manually code skin color, there was little consistency across the raters (remember the kerfuffle about the black and blue dress? or was it white and gold?). But a computer can take each detected face, classify the perceptual tint of the RGB values of every pixel, cluster them into nearby colors using a process called k-means clustering, and then take a weighted average to give an average perceptual tint of the skin color of the face. We can then either use this continuous measure of skin color or we can create bins such as those used in emoji skin color groups (darker skin, medium skin, lighter skin).

I should note: This is just the beginning of how we can start to draw information from images. We have developed one way, but just like the matching literature, there are many ways one could go about measuring attributes such as skin color. The world of image analysis in the social sciences is wide open for researchers. There are so many opportunities for innovation and exploration; I’m excited to see others enter this space and to see all of the creative directions people take it!

Emily:

Fascinating (and the graphic is very helpful!). So you do this procedure for how many books? For every image in each book? (And is it very slow?)

Anjali:

In this initial study, we have 1,130 books. We run the face detection model across every scanned page, so every image is processed through each model, but models perform differently based on how they were trained. The state-of-the-art face detection model (the one from Google Vision) was trained on photographs, so we had to train our own model, which performed much better. To give you a sense, the attached graphic shows the faces detected using Google Vision (FDGV) vs. the faces detected using our model trained on illustrations (FDAI) for a subset of Caldecott books. Once the models were created, the slowest part was digitizing the actual books. Once they were digitized, it took approximately 20 hours on a supercomputer to run all the scans through the face detection, skin color segmentation, skin color classification, and feature classification algorithms.

Emily:

I do like a good supercomputer. It’s amazing to think about how far computing has come since we were kids. But that is not today’s topic!

As I understand it, you classify images from both a standard set of award-winning mainstream books (winners of Newbery or Caldecott medals) and also from a set of books more explicitly focused on better representation of a broad range of groups (I think you call this the “diversity sample” in the paper). One of the findings is that characters of color in mainstream books are more likely to be shown with lighter skin. Can you unpack this? Does it mean that (say) Martin Luther King Jr. appears more white in the mainstream sample?

Anjali:

That’s correct. Characters in the mainstream collection are more likely to be shown with lighter skin than in the diversity collection, even after holding race constant. Meaning, characters that are classified as a given race (e.g. Asian) in the diversity collection are more likely to have darker skin than characters that are classified as that given race (e.g. Asian) in the mainstream collection (I’ve attached a relevant figure that shows this, if it’s helpful). You can see in these examples an image from a book in the diversity collection compared to an image from a book in the mainstream collection: the characters are all classified as being Black, but they are depicted with lighter skin in the image from the mainstream book.

Emily:

What do you see in terms of text? Does the language they use around varying groups differ across the books, or is it primarily in the pictures?

Anjali:

In separate work using methods from natural language processing (e.g. word embeddings, word co-occurrence), we show that Black females are most likely to be associated with struggle and performance arts, Black males are most likely to be associated with sports and struggle, white females with family and performance arts, and white males with power and business (and really, white males are associated with everything). Females are also more likely to be associated with appearance words (sigh). (This is from separate work with Callista Christ, Anjali Das, Alex Eble, Emileigh Harrison, and Hakizumwami Birali Runesha.)

Emily:

Sigh. I wish this was surprising.

I read from this whole conversation that in these celebrated books for kids, we still see an arguably problematic type of representation. With some consistent stereotypes around gender and race, and appearance alterations that, most notably, seem to lighten the skin of characters of color. The comparison set, at least for the latter fact, is a set of diversity-oriented books.

The question is then: What to take from this? I wonder about your reflections on that both from the standpoint of a parent and maybe more broadly from the standpoint of, say, a book publisher. Why do we want to change this and who should, I guess, is the core of the question. A small one!

Anjali:

What is “optimal” representation is a normative question beyond the scope of my role as a scholar and depends on individual goals. I can say that as a parent, I want to offer content to my children that exposes them to a wide world of perspectives; I want diversity to be mainstream — I don’t want their subconscious defaults to prioritize people who happen to have power or voice. When we include, or exclude, narratives of people with different backgrounds, we create a narrow set of windows through which our children view the world and an even narrower set of mirrors for how they might view themselves. This can shape beliefs that then affect the actions that people take, which then can determine outcomes. I want their books to reflect a world of possibilities — both for themselves and what they assume of others.

And I try so hard to influence what makes it onto my kids’ bookshelves and on their video lists (who knew that slime videos were all the rage for the preschool demographic?), but I can only do so much of this curation. They get exposed to content in all parts of their lives — school, libraries, media, friends, family — so it really has to start from the source: the creators and purveyors of this content (in this case, the book publishers) play the role of social architects, intentionally or not, shaping the representation in the materials they create and promote. Increasing the availability of books with greater representation not only matters intrinsically but also is smart business: people want to see themselves in the world around them.

I do think that many publishers want to increase the representation in their books; it’s just that they don’t know how to systematically assess representation in a cost-effective manner. That’s where these AI tools can be so useful. Publishers have the digitized content that they can then feed into these easy-to-use pipelines that can provide baseline measures of representation in each book (which can complement existing manual content analysis methods that are more labor-intensive but allow for more nuanced assessments of books). To be clear, we are not proposing a scorecard system but rather an awareness system. Information is power, and this is just another tool in the toolbox that provides information that we haven’t previously had at our fingertips and that can inform decisions if people so choose.

Emily:

That seems like as good a note as any to end on. Thank you so much for doing this! It was wonderful to chat with you, and the paper is important and impressive, which is a rare combination.

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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

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
...

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

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
...

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.

#perimenopause #perimenopausehealth #womenshealth #hormoneimbalance #emilyoster #parentdata

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.

#perimenopause #perimenopausehealth #womenshealth #hormoneimbalance #emilyoster #parentdata
...

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!

#swimlessons #watersafety #kidsswimminglessons #poolsafety #emilyoster #parentdata

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!

#swimlessons #watersafety #kidsswimminglessons #poolsafety #emilyoster #parentdata
...

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.

 #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.

#emilyoster #parentdata #childnutrition #babynutrition #foodforkids
...

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

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
...

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

#funnytweets #bedtime #nightimeroutine #parentinghumor #parentingmemes

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

#funnytweets #bedtime #nightimeroutine #parentinghumor #parentingmemes
...

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.

#parentingquotes #decisionmaking #nosecretoptionc #parentingadvice #emilyoster #parentdata

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.

#parentingquotes #decisionmaking #nosecretoptionc #parentingadvice #emilyoster #parentdata
...

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

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
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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
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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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It was an absolute pleasure to be featured on the @tamronhallshow! We talked about all things data-driven parenting and, in this clip, what I call the plague of secret parenting. To balance having a career and having a family, we can’t hide the fact that we’re parents. If mothers and fathers at the top can speak more openly about child-care obligations, it will help us all set a new precedent.

Watch the full segment at the link in my bio 🔗

#tamronhall #tamronhallshow #emilyoster #parentingsupport #workingparents

It was an absolute pleasure to be featured on the @tamronhallshow! We talked about all things data-driven parenting and, in this clip, what I call the plague of secret parenting. To balance having a career and having a family, we can’t hide the fact that we’re parents. If mothers and fathers at the top can speak more openly about child-care obligations, it will help us all set a new precedent.

Watch the full segment at the link in my bio 🔗

#tamronhall #tamronhallshow #emilyoster #parentingsupport #workingparents
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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 birthday cards are purchased, remembering the milk.

My guest on this episode, @everodsky, has come up with a solution here, or at least a way for us to recognize the problem and make our own solutions. I’ve wanted to speak with Eve for ages, since I read her book Fair Play. We had a great conversation about the division of household labor, one I think you’ll get a lot out of!

Listen and subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster in your favorite podcast app 🎧

#emilyoster #parentdata #parentdatapodcast #parentingpodcast #householdtips #fairplay #invisiblelabor

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 birthday cards are purchased, remembering the milk.

My guest on this episode, @everodsky, has come up with a solution here, or at least a way for us to recognize the problem and make our own solutions. I’ve wanted to speak with Eve for ages, since I read her book Fair Play. We had a great conversation about the division of household labor, one I think you’ll get a lot out of!

Listen and subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster in your favorite podcast app 🎧

#emilyoster #parentdata #parentdatapodcast #parentingpodcast #householdtips #fairplay #invisiblelabor
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