The early-time kinetics (<1 s) of lead sulfide (PbS) quantum dot formation are probed using a novel droplet-based microfluidic platform, which allows for high-throughput and real-time optical analysis of the reactive process with millisecond time resolution. The reaction platform enables the concurrent investigation of the emission characteristics of PbS quantum dots and a real-time estimation of their size and concentration during nucleation and growth. These investigations reveal a two-stage mechanism for PbS nanoparticle formation. The first stage corresponds to the fast conversion of precursor species to PbS crystals, followed by the growth of the formed particles. The growth kinetics of the PbS nanoparticles follow the Lifshitz-Slyozov-Wagner model for Ostwald ripening, allowing direct estimation of the rate constants for the process. In addition, the extraction of absorption spectra of ultrasmall quantum dots is demonstrated for first time in an online manner. The droplet-based microfluidic platform integrated with online spectroscopic analysis provides a new tool for the quantitative extraction of high temperature kinetics for systems with rapid nucleation and growth stages.