Top positive review
208 people found this helpful
Excellent place to start
on 27 August 2010
Annabel Karmel is the Queen of Baby Eating, and this is just the latest in a steady stream of publications by her on the subject. However this book is very much focused on weaning, so just up to 12 months, and about specific worries you might have to do with that early period. She has also published other books which recommend both baby and toddler eating plans, and if money is tight you might want to order one of them instead.
The first 25 pages are detailed general advice on how to introduce new foods, understanding truths and myths, and in particular addressing special diets, a bit of advice for vegetarians and allergy issues. Then the rest of the book is divided into three sections: Stage one, up to six months; Stage two, six to nine months; and Stage three, 10 to 12 months.
Stage one has lots of information on preparing foods, what first foods should be, the specialness of the very first spoonful and how you should feed the baby. There are then about ten recipes as well as a number of purée suggestions.
Stage two has the most information: this is the section for a baby who has begun to eat quite well, and there are many different purée recipes such as Pumpkin and Pea, or Salmon and Corn Chowder. Also puddings, bringing the number of recipes in this section to about 25. These are proper recipes, which will take a little time to prepare, but there's also lots of advice about freezing and how to do all this relatively sensibly so you don't spend your whole life cooking tiny meals.
Finally, there's stage three, with another twenty or so recipes including chicken burgers, meatballs and fishfingers, and the idea here is to begin to get the child eating some things that you might actually be able to eat as well, so that the whole family are eating the same thing (always eventually her goal).
The whole book is really admirable, and inspiring. I enjoyed reading it and it made me feel motivated and excited to cook for the baby. There are a few things I would point out: one is that there are plenty of her books available secondhand, but weaning advice has changed a lot in the last decade and (for example) my sister-in-law has a Karmel book which advises on weaning at 4 months which is now not generally advised, so a brand new book would be the only one to contain up-to-date health advice.
Secondly, there's not much advice for the mum who is anxious about how much her baby is eating, if it's loads! There's only help for people whose babies aren't eating! Mine stuffs his face, and I couldn't find any recommendations about how many spoonfuls I should stop at, even if he's happy to keep opening his mouth...
Finally, my experience is that even if I homecook the food, with all organic ingredients, it's often not quite as tasty as the organic baby food you can buy from (say) Ella's Kitchen. In the end, I've served my baby both at each meal, and made little mixtures combining the two to really make the meal taste interesting, as the homemade food has a much better texture, but even with Annabel's help the bought food cannot be beaten on flavour, so far... Perhaps I need to source tastier ingredients :-)
Postscript, 31st October: I am now cooking from the 6-9 months section, and these are absolutely delicious, to the point where I've been making double quantities and serving the unpureed version for our grownup dinner. I never got the hang of making really good apple puree, but these meatier recipes come out a treat. Beef stew with sweet potato, cod cooked with spinach and potato, and the lentil and sweet potato dish have all been a great success as dinners for both us and the baby. Really, really tasty. And saves SUCH a lot of time to only cook once.