Reviewed by New_Mama
As I am mid-way through weaning my baby and have already invested a lot of time and effort into researching weaning methods I was keen to try Annabel Karmel’s 30th edition meal planner for babies and toddlers. I hoped it may offer a substitute for all of this research by providing a sufficient summary of the relevant information alongside plenty of easy and nutritious weaning recipes.
On first glance the square hardback book looks appealing with a simple colourful design with photos of healthy weaning recipes. The pages themselves are well laid out with clear photographic images of appealing fresh foods from across the rainbow, certainly promoting a healthy balanced diet right from day 1 of weaning. The first section of the book contains helpful nutritional information and effectively summarises hours of research into what your baby can and can not eat at certain ages. Vibrant red boxes display key information such as high risk foods, top tips, or the types of weaning. Unlike some weaning guidance, the book helpfully explains all 3 types of weaning (spoon-feeding, baby-led and a mixture of both!). Key triggers for many parents’ anxiety are choking and allergens and the book gives clear guidance on typical allergenic foods as well as substitutions for allergens such as eggs. There is then a section on how to prepare foods correctly as well as the key kitchen items that you may need to make preparing foods for your little one even easier. One of the main things I found it hard to find clear summary information on was when babies can have certain foods such as cheeses, honey, salt, sugar or nuts. A double page spread clearing outlines this although it does state it is not a fully exhaustive list and further information is within further chapters. The book, as far as I can tell from what I have learnt over the recent months, includes up to date nutritional evidence based guidelines suggesting that bitter green vegetables are introduced very early on to try and help combat our natural preferences for sweeter foods.
The recipe section starts with those for the first tastes and works through in age order. Helpful freezer icons state which can be successfully frozen, with the earlier tip of batch cooking and separating into tiny baby portions. A first tastes meal planner is also provided for the first 3 weeks, making starting the weaning journey as easy as possible. The recipes are then split into second stage weaning, 9-12 month and toddler sections. A similar style meal planner is also provided for these next stages of weaning. Whilst I enjoy planning and deciding what to cook my baby I appreciate that for many this brings an added task and therefore having an optional starting plan suggested seems a great idea. The recipes provided throughout provide a mixture of options to ensure variety, with many easily enjoyed by the whole family.
Throughout the book are ‘did you know?’ facts helping to educate us on the nutritional value of foods and in turn hopefully providing babies with a greater variety of nutrients in their meals. A pull out summary step by step guide is also present at the end of the book.
The author, Annabel Karmel, wrote her first version of this book in 1991 and has created this 30th anniversary edition to provide a summary of all the evidenced based key information in an affordable recipe book. I feel that it does well to effectively do this and seems to really try and make weaning as easy and simple as possible for the parents. I hope that books like this mean that all parents can be encouraged to get their babies nutrition off to the healthiest start possible whilst also reducing the stress and anxiety that weaning can bring to many.
Rating: I would give the book a rating of 4 out of 5.
Available to buy from many book retailers and online including here.