The Bottom Line: good reference book but not much else
What to Expect the Toddler Years is setup like the previous books in the series; What to Expect when you're Expecting and What to Expect the First Year. There are sections broken up by age. In this book though each section covers a 3 month period rather than 1 mo. Each section tells, like the previous books, what is typical developmentally of children that age. It also covers what to expect at the doctors appointment. In addition to telling you these things each section has a question and answer section. This section has expert answers to frequently asked questions about children that age. It covers discipline, sleep, potty training, education, development, traveling, and more. There are also special sections throughout the book that will feature a common toddler topic with more in depth information. Basically it is set up like a reference book, not a read it cover to cover book. Though you could read it cover to cover to try and be prepared if you prefer. There is just not a story line or main focus as you read it cover to cover.
I really like the layout and developmental information in this entire series of books. It is handy to be able to look up what is typical of other children your childs age. It can make you proud if your child is doing well or ahead of schedule. It can also reassure you if you are worried about a portion of your child's development. But it can also cause, possibly unwarranted worry if your child is not on target. On the other side though the worry could be warranted and when the book backs up your worry you have the courage or extra push to seek needed help. This can really help a child in the long run to get the help they need as early as possible.
The special topics and Q&A sections of the book though are like any other parenting book. Controversial! In my opinion there are so many ways to parents. Every way to parent is mostly based on opinion. Because there is so much opinion involved, every type of parenting can easily find a group of "experts" to back them up. Much of this book is like that, a lot of parenting opinion is involved in answering the questions or writing the topics. If you had to describe the type of parenting this book takes a conservative approach, very middle of the road. It does tend to side with what the current recommendations are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (though these frequently change). Children should be disciplined and sleep in their own bed according to this book so it is certainly not Attachment Parenting. But it does not condone strict schedules, spanking as the only answer, etc so it is not the opposite extreme either.
This book does cover some more common problems such as colds, vomiting, diarhea, ear infections, cuts/scrapes, how to stock your medicine cabinet, etc. But it is not a real medical reference.
All in all I personally like the book for the reference part but do not really read the rest of it. If you plan to use the whole book and have a definitive parenting style you prefer you may not like this book.
With more than six million copies in print, the What to Expect books have become America's pregnancy and childcare bibles. The fourth book in the series provides comprehensive, lively, and reassuring coverage for the toddler ages of two and three, Previously annotated. Illustrated.