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Sometime towards the end of your pregnancy it may occur to you that soon you will be sent home from the hospital with an infant.  More disturbingly, you will, in fact, be the adult in that relationship and be asked to make all sorts of decisions you don't feel like you have any business making.

Cue panic.

So here is what you do - breathe deeply and buy yourself a copy of Baby 411.  This book is seriously most of what you need to get through the first year.  I read this book in my last month of pregnancy and have been using it as a reference continuously with both children ever since.  It has answers to all of the questions that will be discussed ad nauseum in your new mom's group (you should find yourself a new mom's group).  Questions like:

  1. "What's that on my child's head?" (answer: cradle cap).  
  2. "What's that burning sensation in my breast when I nurse?" (answer: thrush).
  3. "When can I give my baby his first bath?" (answer: when the umbilical cord falls off).
  4. "When will I be able to sleep in again?" (ahaha... trick question)
But in all seriousness, it has great discussions of many different topics such as developmental milestones, building and teaching your child healthy sleep habits, how to introduce solid foods, when to call your doctor and when to head to the ER etc.  The thing that makes this book such a convenient reference is that the information is organized by topic (ex. sleep chapter, solid food chapter, etc.) as opposed to by age.  Since babies are all different (thrush can strike any time!), organizing the book this way makes it much easier to quickly find the section you're looking for while your baby is screaming in your ear.  Additionally, when a medical problem is discussed there is always a clear chart that tells you which things are a true emergency and which ones are a "wait and see" situation.  Not only that, but every recommendation sites its source, so if you are inclined to dig through the actual literature on allergy prevention or autism early detection you know exactly where to start.

Furthermore, the sleep chapter has an incredibly concise description of the current science on baby sleep as well as full reviews of the most popular sleep books.  This chapter was so comprehensive (yet short and easy to read) that we were able to get our daughter through all her sleep hiccups without having to do further reading (score!).

The information presented in this book is clear, the answers easy to understand, and further books are recommended for topics that need more in depth coverage than what they can facilitate.  If you're only going to read one book about babies (and you should read at least one), this is the one.

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