Mummy Mondays - three baby/toddler cookbooks, reviewed!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Do you know, of all the cookbooks I have in my kitchen (Jamie Oliver, Nigel Slater, Nigella, Mary Berry ...) I use my baby and toddler cookbooks way more often. I don't know why. Because the meals are simpler, I suppose? Or more family-friendly.

Anyway, I have been given a few recently and bought one a while back that I use all the time, so I thought I'd give them a review for anyone who is looking to buy a good cookbook for babies and toddlers:

This book is written by a mother whose baby would not be spoon-fed. Literally: she refused to eat if it involved a spoon. So she got creative, dreaming up a whole array of interesting and balanced finger foods for her child to eat instead.

I got this book just at the right time, as right now Jellybean can handle quite a few different things in terms of taste/texture, but I was starting to get stuck for lunch and snack ideas of her. I'm bored of giving her sandwiches and rice cakes, and the pre-made baby stuff is either really over-processed, or quite expensive. This book is perfect for us now, as I can make a whole load of healthy snacks and lunches for her (and me!) that aren't too complicated, costly or fiddly to prepare.

As well as the recipes, the writer also tells you why that particular food is good for your child, how to store it, and variations to try once you have had enough.

Another huge draw for me is that this book is really nice to read. It's illustrated, which is really unusual and cute. I would really recommend this one - it's my current favourite!

Buy this if: you need some finger food recipes. This book has it all!

The version I have of this book was published in 2001, so some of the guidance is slightly outdated. However, it is so informative that I am willing to look past it. The first part of this book explains the concept of superfoods and how to introduce them to your baby. I found this part really interesting. My knowledge of superfoods doesn't go far beyond goji berries, so it was nice to find out that there are actually a lot foods you could class as superhealthy, and a lot of them are really affordable.

Annabel Karmel is (or was at this stage) all about purees for babies, and if you're going down the puree route (which we did) it has some really nice recipe ideas. Also it has a huge section of toddler/small child foods - which would actually be good for the whole family.

(As a side note, Annabel Karmel's website is literally packed with recipes. I typed in 'pasta' because I had a bag of baby pasta to use up a few months back, and it was literally full to the brim with recipes to try. You should check it out here).

Buy this if: you're going down the pureeing route, and you want to know about superfoods.

3) The River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook

This book is packed with information. The first half, basically, is all about nutrition, organic food, baby-led weaning and purees, plus breastfeeding and formula feeding. I was a little worried that the whole organic-baby-led-breastfeeding thing might be shoved down my throat, but it wasn't; the book is pretty balanced about everything. Plus the whole thing is peppered from quotes from real parents, explaining their experiences with weaning, which I found interesting.

It has a pretty good section on purees and first finger foods for babies, and then pretty much launches into a selection of recipes you can cook for any age range, explaining how you can vary the meals for babies, little kids and grown-ups. I have cooked a lot of these meals. As you can see I use it a lot by the amount of post it notes I have stuck in it:

Yes. The best thing about this book for me? The bread dough recipe. I use it to make bread, pizza, breadsticks ... and it freezes and defrosts really well.

Buy this if: you want nutritional info and good family recipes.

So there we go: Mummy Mondays. Again! The weeks really fly by, don't they? Have you got any good book recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments :)

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