(This was an odd-shaped book. Much taller than it was wide. It might have been less thick if it was more traditionally proportioned. But what do I know?)
Clocking in at 608 pages, I can unreservedly say that Baby 411 is a thorough and comprehensive guide to a baby's first year of life! That's not a bad thing. Hubby and I brought home our baby just over three months ago, and I can't get enough info. This is our first, so I pulled out this book many, many times. (Why is my baby drooling so much? Why is my baby crying? What on earth do you do to entertain a baby? Should he already be rolling over? When will he laugh?) So I do recommend this book as a reference, at least.
It also wasn't too shabby as a read-through-and-through! There wasn't repetition, like I've found with some other pregnancy and baby reference books. Each page was full of new information. If the authors found that two subjects tied together, they referred you back to the other section rather than repeating the information.
Despite the title, the book actually starts with late pregnancy and childbirth. Sooooo... I probably should've started reading it back in early April rather than starting it in my baby's third month of life. Oops. But it does still contain lots and lots of relevant information! There were a few things that I didn't completely agree with, but they were things that I already knew were kind of controversial in the parenting world. (1. Swaddling. Hubby and I did traditional swaddling from the first hour of life. Our baby was very happy when swaddled and doesn't have hip dysplasia from it. Baby 411 recommends a more contemporary half-swaddle that leaves the legs free to move. 2. Sleep Training. Hubby & I followed another book's sleep training method that is very much discouraged in this book. Just like with swaddling, our baby is happy and we're happy and no one was harmed in the process. My son sees a pediatrician regularly who has "signed off" on everything we're doing and has given him a clean bill of health.)
So back to the book itself. I really liked the layout. There are all these "real world" moments sprinkled throughout, making it really relatable. The authors are both moms, and Ari Brown is a pediatrician married to an Ear Nose Throat specialist. There were little sidebars in each chapter where the authors or other real moms would give their perspective or share their experience with the topic at hand. I also liked that the book was arranged by topic instead of by age. I'm a little competitive, so if I were to read that my baby should be sitting by 4 months old (making that fact up; no clue when a baby should be sitting) and my baby wasn't sitting by 3.5 months old I'd start to worry. Baby 411's sections are things such as "Bringing Baby Home" and "First Aid."
Finally, there's extensive appendices and notes and references in the back of the book. Love it!
*Oh, a little note: the final two sections are on potential baby illnesses and injuries. These sections scared the crap out of me and made me want to stay home in a protective bubble with my kid forever so that he'd never have to be sick. That's unrealistic, but my "mama bear" instinct came out reading those sections! If you're a worrier like me, maybe skip reading those sections and just keep the book around for reference just in case.
*I checked out my copy of Baby 411 from my local library, but am contemplating purchasing a copy.