This book was bought as a present for me, after I'd shunned all literature on pregnancy/baby rearing following an initial foray proved confusing and provided conflicting advice. Initially sceptical, I found 'What to Expect...' well written and well thought out. Rather than scare me stupid, which is what other books did, this book reassured me and provided sound advice and tips, and calmed me down when I thought I was going mad with 'what if' worry. Even my mother ("I have four children and three grandchildren and don't need a book...") thought that this was a great reference manual.
In terms of how to read it: in the first few months I avidly read every word, up two months in advance of my little one's age. As both she and my confidence grew, I found I dipped in and out, rather than holding on to it as a lifeline. Do you have to read the months either side of your baby's age? The answer is the same to this question as it is to 'do baby's develop at differing rates?'. The book does not avoid this point, and emphasises it at the beginning of every chapter. The information on illnesses is good, and does not pretend to be a substitute for seeing a doctor. As an indicator of what to look out for and whether or not you should be concerned, it is great. For this reason, it does cover scary illnesses, but then being a new mum is pretty scary, and 'What to Expect...' tries to be measured and calm, whilst pressing that if you think your baby is ill, however trivial you may think it, then call a doctor. After all, you know your baby better than anyone else, and I haven't yet come across a doctor who didn't say they would rather be called for something that turned out to be nothing, than not called at all.
I'm so glad my friend bought this book for me - it's been a great support. Read it cover to cover, dip in and out, but most of all relax, and enjoy your first year with your baby - if I got through it then anyone can!