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When I had spoken to my GP and determined that my baby was ready for weaning onto solid foods, I felt a mixture of emotions - excitement that we were to enter a new phase and fear that I didn't really have a clue where to start. When someone suggested to me that I read this book as they had found it really helpful, I didn't hesitate to buy a copy - particularly as the author, Annabel Karmel, was someone that I had heard of before and was quite well spoken of for her expertise in the weaning area.
The book is of decent size, has a hard cover (which is wipeable, a very handy property to have when being moved around my kitchen mid-blending sticky purees!) and loads of content. It is well written in that it is not patronising nor does it assume that you have any knowledge or experience in baby feeding! It starts of by explaining weaning basics - why you need to move to solid foods, why you shouldn't do it before your baby is ready and what foods are good first foods and which should be avoided.
The book is then divided into sections - first stage weaning and after first tastes are accepted, second stage weaning, 9 to 12 months and toddler food. My baby has only just started his weaning journey so, although I have read ahead in the book, I have not put any of the later advice into practice. Each section contains recipes for food that you can give your baby - so starts with basic purees, moving to more advanced flavour combinations and finally meals that the whole family can enjoy (cheesy pastas, spaghetti bolognaise & pizzas - I can't wait to try some of these out!). The recipes that I have used have been really clear and concise & easy to follow. I love that after each recipe there is a tick box with a smiley or sad face so that you can record what your baby does or does not like. There are loads of great ideas for purees that combine different flavours that you wouldn't necessarily put together (for example butternut squash and pear) and loads of variety for your baby.
The best bit of the book for me, however, is that there is a meal planner provided to walk you through each stage of weaning - what meals to introduce first, what foods to use and when to introduce 2 and then 3 meals per day. There is also guidance as to when to give breast/bottle or substitute this with water or juice (the only thing that I didn't like was that no guidance was given as to how much water a baby should have).
I will be relying heavily on this book and referring to it constantly over the coming months and am really pleased with my purchase. The book is priced at £12.99 but can be found much cheaper online in places such as Amazon, and I would recommend it as an excellrnt purchase even at the full price of £12.99. Great book.
This book is, for me, the baby bible when it comes to weaning. I found myself referring to it several times a day when my son was at the weaning stage.
It is divided into the different stage of weaning: first stage weaning,second stage weaning, 9-12 months and toddlers.
At the start of each section it gives you a detailed guide as to what your baby/toddler should be doing,nutritional requirements,food that should be included/excluded from the diet. It also gives advice on how much milk your baby shoul be getting at each stage.
It has a wide variety of of purees, finger foods and meals for toddlers along with fantastic charts for each stage of weaning. The charts were very helpful as it gave me an idea of when to introduce certain foods, when to give milk and also how to vary the amounts as well as the food. The recepies were very easy to folow and I also found myself buying more varied (and things I hadn't had before) selection of fruit and veg. Each recipe has a symbol beside it to say whether you can freeze it or not and also whether your child liked it or not.
I found the symbol telling you whether you could freeze it very useful as I was able to make a batch and know I had some in the freezer. The symol of whether the child liked it or not I found insignificant as every mum knows that one day a child will like something the next they won't! Overall, I would highly recommend this book!
Annabel Karmel is best known for her baby and toddler meals and recipe books. Annabel is also a mum so understands the needs of a book like this. To be honest I had not heard of her until I myself had a child and her book was recommended to me on more then one occasion. I ended up purchasing the book from Amazon costing about £8.00. RRP is currently £14.99. The book hasn't really changed in the 4 years I've had mine. It is still a best seller in it's line.
The front cover of the book is very funky with fruit and vegetable people. It has a hard cover which is good considering it is always kept in the kitchen and used whilst cooking recipes from it in the kitchen. In fact mine looks like new still but I did use it plenty and have dug it out today to make sure I still had it so will be ready for making new baby recipes from it.
The book is laid out very well indeed and starts with Introduction.
These first couple pages just run you through how important a healthy well balanced diet is for your child. We all want the best for our children so why not give them the best start by following some simple recipes and ideas from the book. The way your child is fed whilst in their early years makes up their eating habits for life.
A sentence that I find shocking is the following-
Don't be overwhelmed by the impressive lists of nutritional info on labels of commercial baby foods: Your own will contain the same goodness but without any added starches like Maltodextrin which is the same substance that provides glue on stamps and envelopes!
As a baby my son was given anything and everything to try, even food that I myself do not like he was given. One of his current favourites is Olives, Yuck with a capital Y, But he likes them as does his father and I'm sure had I not let him try them then he wouldn't like them when he gets older.
Chapter one is The best first foods for your baby-
Even when your child is weaning milk is still an important part of the diet. This section goes into some detail about the different types of milk be it breast formula and cows milk.
The other parts of this chapter cover a wide range of topics from vitamins, proteins and fats and minerals. The different sugars which are natural and refined. It shows which foods are high in iron, vitamins and calcium.
Some foods can be risky if given to a baby so it shows you which foods these are and at what stage they are safe to have them.
It also shows the best way to prepare and cook foods and how best to freeze some.
It can be a mind field when it comes to feeding babies so it is handy to see at what ages they can have certain foods or you should start weaning on certain foods.
Something I remember learning from this book when my son was young is that a baby under 12 months should never be given honey.
Chapter two Is first stage weaning-
This is where the recipes start but only after you have been given some what how and when information. These foods will be the first your baby has so introduce easy to digest foods gradually, I personally wouldn't try sweetcorn for some reason :-).
Fruit and vegetables and baby rice are the best to start with. Use a special weaning spoon as a baby can't lick off a spoon just yet.
The following recipe is from the weaning section and one my son used to love.
Sweet potato with cinnamon
1 sweet potato peeled and cut into chunks
A generous pinch of cinnamon
A few tablespoons of baby milk
Cover the potato with water and bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and mash together with the cinnamon and milk to the desired consistency.
After each recipe section they provide a meal planner so you can bit that extra bit organised.
Chapter three is second stage weaning-
At around 7 months a baby has less milk and more appetite. Again this section shows which foods you are now able to introduce which include fish pasta and chicken. The recipes have slightly more ingredients and sound a bit more interesting.
Chapter four is nine to twelve months-
Your baby may now become a bit more fussy with food and also want to fed themselves with the spoon, Yes this is the messy stage lol. Finger food can also be introduced at this stage like breads and rusks. Tiny sandwiches etc.
As recipes can now contain more interesting and nutritious grains these can be added to yoghurts and make interesting cereals too.
As I am looking through this book to help with the review I'm actually finding some recipes that I don't remember seeing before.
Another easy recipe I used was Cheese scramble which is basically scrambled eggs with grated cheese in it.
Chapter five is Toddlers
This is the final and largest chapter of the book.
Your child will now be eating most varieties of food and this section has many recipes for main meals, cakes, cookies and snack ideas. Some of the recipes may seem simple but others are easy but with a name like Mulligatawny chicken sound complicated but it is like giving your child fancy food which is way better then McDonalds. I do let my son have McDonalds as a treat.
In the last part of this section it shows you that some times presentation is as important as the actual food. A sandwich that is shaped like a train with cress acting as the steam from it's funnel looks better to eat then a plain sandwich.
I did find this book very useful when I first used it but seeing that I seem to have ignored some recipes before I hope that with my next child I will try to use it even more and make an effort to prepare more meals in advance from the book...
I think that some of the recipes can be slightly adjusted so can be cooked for all the family too.
For the price this book is well worth getting and as it covers the toddler stages too it can be of use for 3-4 years or more. My son is now 4 1/2 years old and can still make some of the recipes in there for him, I'm sure he'd like something from the cake or biscuit section or a train sandwich.
There is also a index in the back so if you have for example some pears but don't know what to do with them then just do a search to find the recipe from the index.
I hope I haven't bored you all too much but wanted to go through each chapter giving it a run down so people understood it wasn't just you average book of recipes.
After failing miserably to tantalize my first born's tastebuds and quickly resorting to baby food jars, when it was time to wean baby number two, I invested in Annabel Karmel's baby meal bible, and meal times were a joy.
Each chapter follows a different weaning stage, right up to the toddler stage, where often the recipes will serve the whole family. In theory, by the time they reach two, they should be more or less assimilated into family meals, though I find that most toddlers tend to get really fussy and go off mixed up foods that they used to eat with gusto.
Still, the recipes are great, varied and usually simple to make. Most recipes make several portions, often up to eight, so that you can freeze some, so that you're not cooking everyday. Some of the fruity puddings were gorgeous, and in savoury dishes, she uses sophisticated ingredients, such as gruyere cheese and curry paste. And my second child was a lot less fussy than the first one, as she got older.
It's full of weaning advice and nutritional advice. If I had another baby, I wouldn't be without it.
Annabel Karmel is revered like a goddess in this house, for making the weaning process so straightforward.
My baby was a fussy eater from birth, just not interested in milk, would rather sleep and never cried for food, so I approached weaning with some trepidation. I was interested in Baby Led Weaning, but I didn't trust my daughter's appreciation of hunger - she had very rarely shown hunger signs for the first 6 months of her life so I thought it unlikely that she'd do the same after 6 months. So after numerous recommendations I bought this book (although with a new cover to the one shown).
I followed the planner religiously for the first month or so to introduce a range of first tastes. This is very easy to follow, the only thing I didn't do was puree - I mushed so there were always a few lumps in it. The suggested first tastes are easy to prepare and a nice variety of flavours, both savoury and sweet.
Once my daughter was on more than 1 meal a day I started batch cooking some of the recipes, using the planner as a guideline. By this stage I was offering a finger food lunch and a AK concoction for dinner - a combination which worked well for us. My all time favourite of these early recipes is lovely lentils - as AK says herself, they do make a delicious soup with more stock added - both mother and baby enjoyed tucking into this one!
Once I was more confident in what I was doing I used the book for ideas and recipes and planned the baby food around what we were eating, so where possible we could eat the same. Some of the recipes for older babies, are lovely, especially the chicken and salmon recipes.
Now she's nearly a year old I am very pleased with her eating so far. She still doesn't get hungry, or eat in any great quantities, but she eats a wide variety of foods of different textures and will try anything.
One criticism I have is that some of the recipes are aimed at older children than I felt was appropriate. Because I didn't puree and have always offered some finger foods I found a lot of the 9-12 month recipes were just as good for my daughter at 7 months - so some leeway needs to be taken - mum (and dad) knows their child best!
Some great information on nutrition here as well, and if you aren't a confident cook, this book I believe could give you the confidence to cook for your child rather than buy pre-made jars.
My mum bought me a copy of Annabel Karmel's baby and toddler meal planner when my son reached the weaning stage. I think it was her way of telling me to get cooking and bin the baby food jars. I actually found it really useful in giving me the confidence to cook for him because as a new mother its easy to get taken in by marketing and believe that the baby food manufactures can do something you cant. Annabel Karmel a talented musician began cooking for her own son and turned her recipes into the baby and toddler meal planner. Since then she has published many other books and has even developed a range of home ware to help you produce food for your baby.
The book starts with a section detailing the food groups, vitamins and minerals needed by your child and the foods which they may be obtained from. It goes on to detail the amounts needed and foods to be avoided such as nuts and salt. It sets out the kitchen equipment needed, preparation, cooking and how to go about freezing your finished food in meal size portions.
The book then goes on to devote a chapter each to the various stages of baby and toddler hood and guides the reader through the changes you may experience in your Childs personal tastes, nutritional and developmental needs. There then follows a good section of age appropriate recipes and for me, the most helpful, a meal planner to give you an idea of what a balanced diet would be at each stage. I found this invaluable as although I didn't stick religiously to the plan it gave me pointers when my sleep deprived brain meant I felt unsure of my ability to provide the correct balance.
I like the fact that in the chapter for the older baby she even gives ideas for sandwich fillings and other finger foods which are not exactly recipes but jog your brain when your scrabbling around for something to give for lunch and your mind blanks. Some of the recipes are also great family meals and when made in larger quantities are nice for adults too, namely the nursery fish pie which is delicious.
I dont think I would be interested in buying the cookware range that goes with the books as I think a few cheap ice cube trays and a cheap stick blender are really all you need.
Cooking your babies, food may seem a little daunting to some of us, but the money saved must equal the cost of the book many times over and the taste really is so much better than the manufactured.
After successfully starting weaning with baby rice I realised how little I knew about what to do next or what on earth I could cook. I borrowed this book from the library after my nice librarian recommended it. It didn't leave my kitchen. I loved it so much that I bought my own copy. I got it in tesco's for about a tenner.
Annabel starts off by explaining about the best first foods and nutritional requirements for your baby. There's lots of interesting information about food and issues like intolerance/allergy, preparing baby food.
The first stage weaning section goes through first fruits and vegetables and quantities. Second, 9-12 months and toddlers goes through a similar format.
The recipes are excellent with a wide variety of tastes and foods used. There are a good selection of mains and puddings to make for you little one. Once you get to second stage weaning there are little happy and grumpy faces you can tick depending on whether your little one liked the recipe. There is also a snowflake icon to indicate whether the food can be frozen. I didn't realise that liver is an excellent baby food!
Using this book you can give your child a really good balanced diet with a lot of variety so they get used to a lot of tastes. So far my little boy hasn't disliked anything apart from melon.
I actually make a big batch and serve some to hubby for his dinner (with salt and pepper on ours tho otherwise it's a bit tasteless) and he hasn't refused anything yet either lol.
I will certainly be using this for the forseeable future.
Although a bestseller this book hadn't been on my list of must-haves when my first child arrived. When my little man was about 4 months old a neighbour passed on her well loved copy. At first I thought how lovely she's given me an old recipe book with pages falling out and bits of food here and there! Oh joy! She did at the time apologize for the state the book was in and told me it would still be a helpful thing to have as my son started eating. Almost all the cookbooks I have for myself have been looked at and on the odd occasion used so I thought this one would follow suit.
I started off weaning my little one with those baby food jars available at local stores and it wasn't long before the food shopping for him was costing more than that for myself. I tried to fix this by making a list of foods that were easy to prepare and puree but this ended up in bland meals. I wanted to give my son a variety of flavours to increase his enjoyment of food and so the cover of the Baby and Toddler Meal Planner was finally cracked. I have to admit I was happy with what was hidden within.
I had a quick scan of the introduction which was a brief hello from the author, Annabel Karmel, and a bit about the importance of healthy eating habits from day one. I felt a bit bad after reading it as it told of the sometimes unnatural things that can be in jars of baby food.
The best first foods for your baby
Four to six months & weaning
Six to nine months
Nine to twelve months
Chapter One, The best first foods for your baby:
Covers the importance of milk, benefits of continued breastfeeding, and what foods hold the most vitamins and nutrients for babies needs. This chapter goes into depth about sugars, starches, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are broken down here and lists of foods are provided to easily show where to get these vitamins from. Many parents with or without allergies themselves worry about them in regards to their children and here the most common allergies such as lactose intolerance, gluten, nuts, eggs and more are covered and explained. If you need to know what kitchen utensils are needed when beginning the weaning process look no further that too is covered in the first chapter. Freezer storage times are also broken down which is something I found very helpful.
Fruit - 6 months
Vegetables - 6 months
Purees with milk - 4-6 weeks
Fish - 10 weeks
Red meat & chicken - 10 weeks
Chapter Two, Four to six months & weaning:
When to start, what foods to start with, quantities and how to know if you've started too early. Tips and tricks to successful weaning. A collection of recipes to assist you. One of my favourites being Broccoli Trio. Peel & chop a medium potato, boil till soft, steam / cook 50g (2 oz) of broccoli and the same of cauliflower. When everything is tender and ready add a dessertspoon full of milk and puree with a blender. This will make 14 portions so the freezing guide will come in handy.
For each age group there are a number of recipes that I have even made as side dishes for dinner parties! Next to each recipe it will have a freezer symbol to let you know if it can be frozen or not. There is also a tick box next to a happy and sad face. Mark if baby likes the recipe or not so you will know for future. Each recipe is easy to follow which is great if you're lazy like me and can't be bothered with hundreds of steps that lead inevitably to loads of washing up.
Sometimes it can be hard to stick to a schedule for yourself so thankfully the author has done it for us with an easy to understand grid that includes nap times.
Chapter Three, Six to nine months:
A bigger appetite to take care of and thankfully there are more ideas a recipes as you carry on through this book. At this stage baby is allowed more types of foods, chunkier textures, and bigger quantities. Some of the foods used in the recipes were introducing foods to me which was a nice surprise. I don't think my son would be so into food if it weren't for this book. I suddenly realised how little I knew and how unadventurous I was in the kitchen.
Again you will find another meal planner schedule set out for you.
Chapter Four, Nine to twelve months:
Often in this last stage before baby turns one weight gain slows and a good eater can suddenly become fussy. Many will refuse to be spoon-fed as they wish to be more independent, (not my child of course ... he's lazy to the end!). At this stage and to encourage them to feed themselves it's time to introduce finger foods! Although I was very happy that little one was adventuring into the world of being a big boy and feeding himself a bit I hated the mess and advise you put a bin bag or something under the highchair. That way you don't stress to much about mess.
This chapter gets you ready for the long wait you will have at the table whilst lazy bones eats at a snails pace. Again the author tells you about textures and quantities for this age group, and ideal finger foods. One of the best things I have learnt from here is to make whatever I was eating into a smaller portion but to ensure it looks the same so little one thinks he is getting exactly the same and thus less room for fuss as they will see that everyone has the same thing.
The author gives ideas for making food look fun on the plate which encourages them to gobble up. I have to say I still put his sandwich and carrot sticks into a smiley face pattern on the plate (poor lad, I'll probably still be doing that when he's 20).
Looking at it now I think there are more recipe ideas in here then in any other cookbook I have.
Chapter Five, Toddlers:
Exercising their independence even more once they pass the one year mark it can be tricky to keep them happy and still trying new things. This chapter gives tips on making mealtimes an enjoyable process and not to make it a battlefield. If your little one won't eat or is fussy there are a number of tips to encourage a change in habit. Also covered is getting kids involved in the kitchen, more meal planners, recipes, and healthy snack ideas.
In total there are over 200 recipes to play with and mixed with the advice and tips makes this a wonderful helping hand. I have my copy out again for my second child and use it as my child feeding bible, most highly recommended.
According to a quick search this book retails at around £8 and is widely available and I've personally seen it at Borders bookshop and on Amazon.
(c) oioiyou 2009
2013 update: my copy is falling apart now but a friend has now taken it and love it too so it lives on to help another parent :)
Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner was absolutely invaluable to me when I first started weaning my son at 21 weeks old. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing - the guidelines had changed so much in the last few years that my Mum wasn't a lot of help, and we hadn't covered weaning in our parenting classes as the health visitors were promoting the 'don't wean until six months' advice, even though they'd told me to go ahead and do it. Therefore, I needed something that was going to explain to me what I should do, and when I should do it, and this book was perfect for that.
Structure of the Book
The book is broken down into chapters covering the different stages on weaning, from the first tastes of pureed fruit and vegetables up to the toddler years. Each section has an introduction which gives an overview of the recommended foods / quantities of milk / how much you should expect your baby to eat, a good selection of recipes grouped according to type, and a meal planner giving ideas for a week's worth of food. It is well laid out and very easy to understand.
The recipes become more complex as you go through the book, almost like your cooking should improve as your child gets more adventurous with their eating. For parents that don't cook much from scratch, this could be a great opportunity to develop your cooking skills as well as providing your child with an excellent nutritional start in life. If you are already confident in the kitchen, then nothing in this book should present too much of a challenge. The early recipes concentrate on fruit and vegetables, as this is all that is recommended for babies under six months. It is very useful in that it tells you how to prepare / cook the vegetables, and gives a few recipes where you can combine different vegetables. The second chapter introduces protein and dairy, as well as providing more fruit and vegetable recipes. The third chapter is aimed at babies between 9 months and 1 year old. It is much more typical of ordinary family meals although the recipes have been adapted to make them more suitable for a baby's tastes. The toddler section of the book focuses on meals that are suitable for the whole family, and the recipes are designed to feed adults as well as children, although you could batch cook them and freeze them. The implication is that by the time you reach the toddler stage your child should be eating the same as the rest of the family.
From the early days, my son loved the Leek, Sweet Potato and Pea puree, as well as Butternut Squash with Pear. I found the section on First Stage Weaning very helpful in realising which vegetables would work together and trying out things I would never have tried without this book. I cooked a lot of the pasta recipes as my son is a big fan of pasta - we still use the Napolitana Sauce recipe all the time, both as a pasta sauce and as a topping for homemade pizzas, so I always have cubes of that in my freezer. Other favourites included Cod with Sweet Potato, Chicken with Sweet Potato and Apple, Mini Shepherd's Pie, Salmon and Broccoli Tagliatelle and Bolognese Sauce.
This book is a great introduction to feeding your baby. It covers all the basics and the meal planners are great for giving you an idea of what your baby should be eating at any given stage. The recipes are easy to follow and the range of foods in the book is excellent. The only reservations I would have is that sometimes she uses an excessive amount of ingredients, particularly in the toddler section of the book, which can make the meals expensive to cook, and that the portion sizes are very random - there is no consistency over how many portions a recipe will make, which can be frustrating when you're trying to batch cook and freeze them. I haven't used the toddler part of the book as much as I used the first three chapters as it is all a bit time-consuming and, to be honest, it is cheaper and easier for us all to eat the same foods these days. There are some good ideas for finger foods in that section though which I do find myself coming back too. Overall, I would highly recommend this book and it's definitely the best weaning book I've found.
I love to cook and so when my first child was born 11 years ago, I decided that feeding would be the one area of motherhood at which I was going to excell. At that time, there was only one main baby cookbook and this was it - The New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel.
Annabel Karmel is a former professional harpist and cordon bleu trained cook who became interested in baby nutrition after the death of one of her children as a young baby. She became interested in the notion that she could improve the health of her children and increase their interest in food by preparing her own recipes for them as young babies, instead of relying on commercially produced processed foods.
She was one of the first to make this idea widely acceptable. Until then, most of us were buying jars and packets of processed foods for our babies, believing them to be balanced nutritionally and better for them. The shop shelves used to be filled with rows of food powders that you mixed with milk or water. I remember being given jars of baby food by my health visitor, something that does not happen now.
Now there is a realisation that processed foods do not provide children with the variety of tastes and textures that they need to get them used to a varied healthy diet. The point of weaning is to get them used to eating what you as a family are eating. And if your diet is not up to much, then it is time for your diet to improve as well.
This is very much the ethos set out in all Karmel's books. For the purposes of this review, I compared my old tattered 1998 edition with the new one, which I got from the library.
Suffice to say, it is not changed much. But then it didn't really need to. I think this is still the classic baby cookery book, as much for the advice it gives on the correct approach to weaning, as it is for the excellent recipes it contains.
The first chapter deals with an introduction to your child's nutritional requirements and the nutritional content of various foods. This is useful as it gives you an overview of where you are heading, and in the first few months when everything is new, I read and reread this chapter, as much for comfort and inspiration as anything else.
The remainder of the chapters are divided up into the different weaning stages - 4 - 6 months, which contains recipes for fruit and vegetable purees.
- 6 - 9 months, when meat is introduced
- 9 - 12 months - still more recipes and finger food
- toddlers - this includes a baking and party section.
Each chapter begins with a meal planner, which again is a comfort when you start. Eventually, you get to know your own baby's appetites, and I came to use this less and less.
The new edition makes allowances for the fact that it is now recommended not to feed your baby solid foods until they are six months, but still gives details of foods that are safe from 4 months. This is fair enough, as many mums, including myself, do not wait the full six months.
Each recipe is given with advice on whether they can be frozen, and many of the recipes contain advice on how to use the recipe to make a meal for the whole family. Even the early purees can be converted into soups. Again the advice is to get your baby used to eating what you are eating.
Many of the recipes are absolutely great, both for the baby and the family. One of the reasons why I have not used this book that often with the recent birth of my third child is because I have continued to cook the recipes as my older children have grown and they are ingrained into my memory.
My favourites include the Haddock in Orange Sauce, Courgette and Pea Souper, Chicken and Apple, and the Special Fried Rice with Sweet and Sour Chicken. The Muligatawny Chicken is a fantastic first chicken curry, and the baking section is absolutely excellent.
Annabel's recipes can be labour intensive, although she claims that they are not. As the years have gone by, I have devised recipe shortcuts. This is not only to save time, but also because it is so heartbreaking to spend hours on a recipe, only for your fat little 12 month old to spit it out as though it is something akin to the devil's own vomit.
I am surprised that the new edition has not reduced the preparation time on some of the recipes. This is one area in which the book could be definately improved. There are now other baby puree cook books on the market which are not quite so labour intensive.
I am also surprised that the book continues to suggest giving honey to babies under 12 months, and peanut butter to under 5s.
But these are the only drawbacks to this excellent book. Annabel Karmel's writing style is enthusiastic and reassuring and certainly for those months before you actually start weaning your baby and are still idealistic about the whole thing, this is a terrific read. It is still published in hard back, and with the lovely illustrations, this would be a lovely present for a new mum.
Once you get started, I am sure you like me will start making up your own shortcuts to some of the more labour intensive recipes. But by then, the book will have already done its job in educating you and reassuring you as to how the feed your baby.
When I started to wean my son, I looked round for some help, and everywhere I looked was Annabel Karmel. I couldn't afford to buy her books, so I did the next best thing and borrowed them from my local library. Even off ebay her books are so in demand that they go quickly. Recipes which were a success I kept a note of.
Well, I can honestly say it's the best thing I could done. The book itself is very easy to read and split into chapters depending on the age/stage of you baby.
Each chapter begins with nutritional information, what and how much should your child be eating. What new foods or textures can be introduced at this stage etc. Then follows the recipes, and finally a meal planner, so you can plan well ahead and ensure your baby is trying new foods and having a varied diet.
I found the recipes very easy to make, and easily adaptable if you wanted to add your own variations. Even though my son is now a toddler and will eat anything, I still make some the dishes because he loves them so much. (Lovely Lentils and Butternut Squash risotto).
I only used the meal planners as a guide, never strictly adhered too.
Some recipes and some of her advice are available free via her website, so you can get some help there. Otherwise do as I did and get hold of a free copy! If you read other of her books, you'll find a lot of the recipes are duplicated.
Just before I started weaning this book was recommended to me and after reading the synopsis decided that it should be useful - well it is now my weaning bible!
It takes you through from the very first tastes to toddler food and all the stages in between. It is split into 5 chapters: The best first foods for your baby, First-stage weaning, Second stage weaning, Nine-Twelve month weaning and finally Toddlers.
The first chapter gives lots of useful information about introducing particular foods, freezing (what you can and what you can't), how old they need to be before introducing certain foods, different ways to cook things, allergies, information about milk and a page listing foods that are good sources of important vitamins.
Thereafter each chapter starts with some information about that particular stage, nutrition and things to be careful of. It then has a selection of recipes and chapters 2 and 3 have meal planners as well to help you ensure that you are preparing a balanced diet - however, I have never used the meal planners as I found they didn't really fit in with the structure of my daughters day.
The book is full colour and very easy to read - I am glad it is hard back as a paper back would be so scruffy by now the amount of times I have flicked through to find something interesting to make for my daughter!
I have found the recipes very useful - although I don't just stick to making recipes from the book and often make my own combinations as well. Funny thing is I hadn't read one of the recipes and then flicked through and found a recipe for Courgette Gratin and realised it was basically the same as I had been making anyway!
This book has been my life saver through the weaning process and I would highly recommend it.
My little boy is now 8 months so we are well underway with 3 meals a day and we will be going into the realms of finger food soon. Watch out for the mess.
This book gives you ideas for recipes and menu planners for all ages from 4 months through to toddlers. Obviously the official guidelines are no solid food until 26 weeks but my little boy lasted until 22 weeks before you could tell he was starving and milk was just not enough.
The first section (4-6 months) takes you through basic vegetable and fruit purees. The second section (6-9 months) introduces meat and fish. The following sections introduce more lumpy and complex food.
It is written with all the health guidleines in mind (no nuts, gluten, eggs, honey etc until the correct age). It gives you confidence to feed good homemade food to your baby. The only food my boy hasn't enjoyed is the mushroom pasta, avacado and surprisingly banana.
I was given my copy but you can get it easily on amazon new or secondhand. I wouldn't have known what to do without it. You don't need to buy all Annable Karmels pots to store your food - just use ice cube trays and freezer bags.
If you buy this book you won't need any others - promise!
I was given this book after my son was born and told that it would be my weaning bible! Written by Annabel Karmel, cook and mother, it is very informative and a reassuring read during the minefield time of weaning!
The latest edition of this book has a RRP of £14.99 (available on amazon for around £9 at the moment) and is widely available.
The current advice is that you should not start weaning your baby onto solid food until they are 6months. However some babies (with advice from your GP/Health visitor) may need weaning earlier than this, though not before 17 or 20 weeks (depending who you speak to!).
The book starts by explaining that milk will be the major source of nutrition for your baby at this stage but goes through what your baby's nutritional requirements are and what foods contain these things. Allergies to foods are also covered. The chapter then goes on to explian the things you will need to prepare your baby's food and how to go about making and storing the food.
The next chapter covers recipes suitable for babies aged 4-6months, the initial phase of weaning. It goes through the foods that are suitable at this stage and then lists recipes for your baby to try. At this stage it is purees of fruit, vegetable and combination of fruits/vegetables. At the end of the chapter is a series of suggested meal planners that illustrate examples of meals and times to feed your baby.
Chapter 3 covers food appropirate to give your child from six to nine months. Again suggesting new foods you can introduce, and a number of sweet and savoury recipes for your baby. It also details information on the texture of the foods and how much to give. Again at the end of the chapter are a series of meal planners.
The next two chapters progress your child's food texturally as well as introducing more foods and increasing the amount they are eating and take your child from nine months to toddler age.
There are a wide range of recipes contained in this book many of which (particularly in the chapters 9months and beyond) that we all like to eat.
Some examples of recipes are - Apple and raisin compote, Watercress potato and courgette puree, tomatoes and carrots with basil, cauliflower cheese, fillet of fish in orange sauce, chicken and apple meatballs, beef casserole with carrots, chicken paprika, pasta with gruyere and cherry tomatoes, cheese pretzels.
My son loves the chicken and apple meatballs, cauliflower cheese, spaghetti bolgnese, rice with meat and vegetables, fish pie, salmon fish cakes plus many more of the recipes we tried.
I found that it was a very good book to have to look in for inspiration when I was cooking meals for my son. He now eats most of the same food my husband and I are eating, but we still often cook recipes from this book for us all to eat.
The Annabel Karmel's new complete baby and toddler meal planner is an excellent book to help you when you start weaning your baby and goes through to give advise up until the toddler stage.
Guidelines advise you that you shouldn't wean a baby before 6 months old, however as not all babies are the same; some babies may require weaning before this age, but you should definitely not introduce food any earlier than 20 weeks as the babies digestive system is not mature enough to deal with anything other than baby milk. I would warn you though that guidelines are just guidelines and that you should do what you feel is right for your baby. I would also advise you to speak to your health visitor as I did before deciding on whether to wean your baby earlier than 6 months.
My son, Rhys was is now 20 weeks old and has been showing signs of needing something other than milk, ie he has been waking through the night, watching us when we eat, constantly chewing his hands and being very hungry most of the time, therefore I made the decision to start slowly weaning him.
My friend lent me this book as she swore by it when she weaned her little girl, so whilst I didn't purchase the book myself the price on the back of the book is £12.99. On the front of the book it states to have over 200 quick, easy and healthy recipes for your baby and toddler.
The book begins by telling you what the best first foods are for your baby, it goes on to tell you what the guidelines are for when you should start weaning your baby. It tells you the important food groups and nutritional requirements that your baby does and does not require in his diet, IE, you should not give a baby salt until they are over a year old and what vitamins and minerals are important to a baby and what food groups contain these vital vitamins. It also tells you what foods you should avoid with your baby's and what foods can cause allergies. It tells you what equipment you require to prepare food for your baby and goes on to tell you how to prepare the food to puree, ie how to steam or microwave the fruit and vegetables.
The next chapter is first stage weaning and tells you what the very first fruit or vegetables should be for your baby, it is important to start off with vegetables and fruits that are naturally sweet, like potato, carrot, parsnips, apples and pears. It also advises that you should introduce your baby to vegetables first and introduce sweet things after so that they aren't developing a sweet tooth very early on! The chapter then goes on to give you recipes for first tastes, such as cream of carrot or butternut squash. Once you introduce the very first tastes it then introduces recipes where you combine one or more fruit or vegetable, such as broccoli and cauliflower or potato, courgette and broccoli.
At the end of this chapter is a meal planner, I particularly like this as it is a week by week planner of when to feed your baby and how many feeds to give. Such as it says that on the first week you should introduce a small meal, such as baby rice with one of their feeds, then on week two it says that you should give them two small meals with two of their feeds and it then goes on week by week advising you of how to introduce the food and when you should start decreasing their milk feeds.
The book then goes on to explain second stage weaning to you which is when the baby is ages between seven and nine months. This is the time you can start to introduce finger food and it tells you what the best finger foods are to give your baby. It also tells you again which foods you can introduce to baby as you cannot give babies certain foods before they are 56 months old, ie eggs, meat & fish but at this stage you cant pretty much introduce them to most things apart from a few. The end of the chapter again gives you the meal planner and some lovely recipes.
The book then goes onto nine to twelve months and what you should be doing to help them develop their eating skills during this period. It goes on to say that around this age babies refuse to be spoon fed and want to feed themselves with either their hands or spoons, you should allow your baby to experiment so that they are gaining the knowledge to be able to feed themselves.
The final chapter is about toddlers and tells you the final facts you need to know before you baby can eat practically everything we eat.
I really like this book as it is very easy to follow and gives you step by step guidelines to begin weaning your baby. The thought of weaning Rhys was quite daunting to me as I knew the things and way he ate now would form a ground for the foods he would eat for the rest of his life, so I knew that to get weaning off to a good start is vital. I like to think that by using the Annabel Karmel book to help me I am doing just that.