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As every parent knows, the stage of weaning a baby from a milk diet onto solid foods can be a very daunting experience. I had heard the name 'Annabel Karmel' many times in reference to weaning/recipe books & was strongly advised to invest in one of her many publications.
I opted for the 'Baby & Toddler Meal Planner'. This best selling hardback book has been around for over 20 years now, but has been recently updated & has a clean, modern feel to it, along with bright colourful illustrations.
The book is split into several chapters:
Chapter 1 - 'The best first foods for your baby' talks about general nutrition for babies, allergies & other helpful information such as storage of baby foods.
Chapter 2 - 'First stage weaning' lists the fruits & vegetables which are best suited to a young baby at the start of the weaning process. The book explains how to prepare each product, & the approximate number of servings each 'recipe' will provide. Slightly more complex variations are included, which can be given once 'first tastes' have been accepted. The end of the chapter also includes a daily timetable covering the first 5 weeks of weaning.
Chapter 3 - 'Second stage weaning' has an introduction covering what foods your baby should be able to eat by now, & how to manage milk feeds in addition to solids. By this stage, your baby can move onto protein foods, such as eggs, chicken, fish & cheese. The recipes in this chapter become more complex, including a greater variety of fresh produce, aswell as the addition of meat & fish. Again, a day by day meal planner is included.
Chapter 4 - '9 to 12 months' has an introduction covering 'finger foods' & the fact that babies will now want to experiment & attempt to feed themselves. Recipes in this section include lumpier foods, cereals, pasta etc.
Chapter 5 - 'Toddlers' includes information on fussy eaters & the importance of family mealtimes. Recipes in this section become more akin to what we would expect to eat as an adult, & many of the recipes can easily be made for the whole family.
Throughout the book, information is given with each recipe regarding portion sizes/numbers, storage (freezable), & a 'happy' face & a 'sad' face, so that parents can record which foods their baby/toddler likes & doesn't like. Illustrations/photographs are provided throughout the book, which is particularly useful for the later, more complex recipes...many of which look delicious!
I myself started the weaning process approx 6 weeks ago with my son. I started off following the book & decided it would make things easy to follow the daily planners. Alas, things are not quite going to plan (when do they ever with a baby?!). My son starts choking at the slightest hint of a texture, & I find the jarred baby foods are much smoother than I can ever make. I seemingly have a freezerful of every fruit & vegetable under the sun, but only a limited few of which my son can manage & enjoy. I currently intersperse these with an array of store bought baby foods, with the hope of moving things on eventually, but at my sons pace. I do look forward to being able to work through the remainder of the book when he is ready.
This is a great book, which is simple & easy to follow, with lovely illustrations & colourful pages which make referring to it a joy. I'd advise anyone who is about to embark on the weaning process to buy one of these books, but don't beat yourself up if things don't go according to plan.
The book is 206 pages, with an RRP of £14.99. I bought mine from Amazon.co.uk, for around £8.50 with free delivery.