What I liked about First Time Parent is that it doesn't pretend to have all the answers - more a range of tips, suggestions and coping strategies. Atkins also makes it clear that in the baby's eyes you are the expert, and this is a good thing to be told at the start when you feel totally clueless.
I didn't want to be drowned in schedules, rules or timetables. It's not a boot camp, I told myself (then had a slightly worrying vision of the feral children that awaited me).
`You may be bonkers, but you're not stupid,' says mother-of-three Lucy Atkins, `and in your baby's eyes you're the only expert that matters.' She goes on to cover everything you actually need to know, from what to pack in a nappy bag to how to swaddle a newborn, sprinkled with words of reassurance to the clueless - `your baby doesn't know any better than you do how he should be bathed or fed. The right way, in short, is your fumbling, inept, loving and slowly evolving way.'
I liked the sections on breastfeeding, how to establish a sleep routine from early on, and sixteen things to try if a baby won't stop crying. She also offers sound advice on things like long-haul flights and trips to the supermarket: `shop online. You know it makes sense.' And there's a brilliant chapter on how to keep your relationship with your partner on track: `one word: babysitters'.
In short, if you're after solid advice without the preaching, this is an excellent resource, complete with gorgeous photos of newborns. Like a lot of things, parenting is something you learn by doing, but practical, essential information, conveyed in an adult-to-adult tone, is invaluable.
It's also set out very clearly with no waffle - she gets to the point quickly and is never the slightest bit patronising, just reassuring and wise. Unlike some parenting books, the writing is very good - she also writes health stories for the Guardian etc - and this means a lot of information is packed into short, easy to read chapters. Just the thing when no one's slept for three weeks.
A great new mum gift or book to buy if you want a no-nonsense guide through the first days, weeks and months.