Emily Oster Answers Your Questions On Spanking, Siblings and Sleep Training Should I sleep train? What's the best spacing between siblings? What about spanking? Economist Emily Oster answers these anonymous parenting questions with data.

Your Questions On Spanking, Siblings and Sleep Training, Answered

Trish Pickelhaupt/NPR
A collage of a clock and a crib surrounded by stamps and stationary elements.
Trish Pickelhaupt/NPR

Most parents will admit to winging it once in a while. Who has time to research studies on sleep training when you aren't getting any sleep?

Enter Emily Oster. The Brown University economics professor built her career on data-driven parenting. She looks at the studies and translates them for tired parents. Oster has published three parenting books — one on pregnancy and the early years, one on toddlers, and her most recent on school-aged children, which we covered on Life Kit.

We posed three of your anonymous parenting questions to Oster for Dear Life Kit. Watch the videos below to hear her data-informed responses.

On spacing between children

"What's the best age gap between siblings? My daughter is about to turn one, and I see so many people start trying for a second baby around this time. I'd like to give my body a break, but I want our kids to have a close relationship. Is it OK to wait a while?" — Age Gap, ASAP?


On sleep training

"Dear Life Kit, My infant is too young to sleep train, but I've heard I should put them down drowsy but awake to prepare for better sleep in the future. It's not working for us. How important is that suggestion?" — Soothing To Sleep


On spanking

"Dear Life Kit, We always talked about not spanking our kids, but since we hit the terrible twos, spanking has become a thing in our house. I think my husband resorts to that more often than he should. I do spank my son, but not as hard or as often as my husband. It's driving a huge wedge between us." — Stressed About Spanking


Have a question you want answered by Life Kit? Submit it here.