Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
First, for emergency situations, provide triage guidelines until I could get to a hospital or an ambulance could get to us.
Second, for non-emergency situations (fever, cuts, sunburn, etc.), provide sound advice in a reasonable tone for how to handle a baby’s medical needs, assuming some of that would be different from what I’d do for myself or another adult + provide clear lists of symptoms and decision points on when to call our pediatrician.
After having read through site after site of alarmist “information” on the internet about everything that could go wrong during my pregnancy (note to self: avoid the comments section), I wasn’t going to rely on Google to help me out if Astrid appeared to be sick or was hurt.
There are some great general books out there that provide an overview of childhood development and illnesses (see below for a list), but it was harder to find a book that I could use quickly, in a panic in the middle of the night when I didn’t have the time or patience to separate long-winded all-points-of-the-argument overviews from actual advice or search through a 20-page index of small print.
In the end, I settled on two different books.
For emergencies, First Aid for Babies & Children Fast is fantastic. With large photographs of what to do, clear instructions, and an index on the back cover, it’s everything I was looking for to help us through any God-forbid situations.
For general reference on everything from breastfeeding dos and don’ts to, “What fever requires a doctor’s visit?” a friend steered me to Baby 411. Be warned: the cover illustration is awful, but don’t judge the contents by the cover. It’s a great, comprehensive reference for new parents. Answers to common questions and sensible advice arranged in clearly marked sections. (Once Baby is over a year old, you can graduate to Toddler 411.)
First Aid for Babies & Children Fast $10.40 at Amazon
Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year $10.04 at Amazon