THE BOOK

"The Gallagher Guide to the Baby Years, 2005 Edition: The Real Moms' Survey of Top-Rated Products and Advice" (Atria) compiles advice swapped with 194 moms -- 25 of them doctors -- about how to breast-feed, select a stroller, burp a baby and lots of other stuff that puzzles new parents.

THE AUTHOR

Gaithersburg resident Stephanie Gallagher has written books and stories for national magazines about personal finance and parenting. But her strongest credential for this book, she says, is that she is herself a mother of two. Been there, done that.

THE GOOD

The spare text lets busy parents find choice nuggets fast. Some tips are clever (have a quilt made from your favorite baby outfits instead of saving them all in a box), some earnestly well-informed (get a professional to properly install your car seat) and some refreshing (when outfitting a nursery, skip the baby-wipe warmer).

THE BAD

Some advice is facile (to get kids to eat their veggies, "cover them with cheese") or unrealistic (to save money, "make curtains, bedding . . . yourself") or even insulting ("relax" to conceive). The parenting style leans more toward coddle-and-cajole than "because I said so." Why did no dads' opinions merit inclusion?

THE BOTTOM LINE

New parents (those who don't get their fill of advice from Mom, the in-laws and nosy neighbors) may appreciate this book's cut-to-the-chase response to the barrage of products and disparate parenting styles. Readers can add their own two cents -- for possible inclusion in a future edition -- at www.gallagherguide.com.