There is a lot that parents SHOULD know before they bring the baby home from the hospital. Yes there are 45 minute parenting workshops at the hospital but they tell you little more than how to change a diaper, bathe the child, and not hit or shake your child. You may have family that are willing to help and be a wealth of information but I highly suggest reading books on different methods and determine what YOUR parenting style will be. If you don't educate yourself then you are blindly sending your child down a path that molds their future.
These are the books that I found very helpful to reference before giving birth:
- The Happiest Baby on the Block - How to sooth a fussy baby. If you have a baby with colic, do more research because these babies benefit from seek dietary restrictions for at least 1 week -- dairy (most common cause of colic), eggs, soy and gluten are a good first step.
- The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy - Your baby's sleep patterns will change weekly then monthly. To ensure that your baby is getting the right type of sleep and to help you make sure that you are not setting yourself up for sleep issues (or to solve sleep issues), I highly recommend this book. I have to warn you that this book is anti-co-sleeping. If co-sleeping works for your family, do it because it is great! But if it stops being great, don't be afraid to try something new.
- Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child - A great all round medical reference that gives you conventional treatments, dietary guidelines, nutritional supplements, herbal treatments, and prevention tips for common ailments. This is a good first stop before contacting your doctor.
- The Nursing Mother's Companion, 6th Edition: 25th Anniversary Edition - You should have a nursing book if you plan to nurse. It is a great reference to read before giving birth, to keep in your hospital bag and to have as a reference at various stages of nursing.
- The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two
These are good books to read as your baby is growing:
- The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old
- Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joy
- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
- Playful Parenting
- Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
- The Diaper Free Baby
That should be a good start. There are many more wonderful books on parenting and play so read whatever looks interesting and make your own opinions.