Thursday, 13 October 2011

Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner Book Review.

As we are now weaning Bug I was thrilled when we were offered the opportunity to review the 20th Anniversary Edition of Annabel Karmel’s Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner book. Bug started his adventure with food when he was 20 weeks old, starting with baby rice and then onto basic, simple home made purees. At times I have also resorted to shop bought pouches and jars too even though I really want to prepare all of his baby food myself, I have just found myself as a first time mummy unsure of the next step and the variety of food I can make for him at this stage. I hoped that this book would help me and guide me along the way so that I could be the mummy I always imagined I would be and provide tasty food for Bug especially as he doesn’t like the shop bought, ready made savoury meals.

Annabel Karmel’s Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner book was first published in 1991 and it has become an established classic as an indispensable guide to feeding babies and toddlers over two decades. This year was the 20th Anniversary of this renowned book and to celebrate the anniversary a completely revised and updated edition was published. It includes the familiar guidance Annabel Karmel provides with detailed, nutritional advice on how to give your baby the best start in life, time-saving tips, meal planners, new illustrations and brand new recipes with there being over 200 tasty recipes. This book is endorsed by Greet Ormond Street Hospital and provides advice on food for babies and weaning to toddlers.

As soon as the book arrived I just had to look through it straight away. It is a lovely hardback book and seems to have been revised into a great edition. I immediately loved the illustrations; they are beautifully designed and continue throughout the whole book. Many of the recipes within this book have accompanying photographs which I think is a great addition to the recipe. I really like that all of the recipes have a happy and sad face by the title which you can tick so that you remember if your baby loves or hates that particular recipe. Also there is a snowflake symbol that is included with any recipes where the meal is suitable for freezing, I love the snowflake symbol as it really helps me as a busy mummy know if I can freeze the meal so that I can freeze portions in advance making it easy and convenient for me but without having to compromise on providing Bug the best nutritious food.

I like how the book is written, it is well laid out with advice being delivered in short paragraphs which I appreciated being a time-strapped mummy. I think having information in short paragraphs is ideal for busy, tired parents, providing you the information you need in a clear and easy to understand way. It contains chapters that cover first foods, first stage weaning, second stage weaning, 9-12 months and toddlers and it is well personalized to each stage. Each chapter has an introduction to that particular stage of eating development, providing information specific to that stage. The first chapter ‘best first foods’ does not contain recipes but provides information about the food groups, the importance of a varied diet and basic cooking; it is very informative but I believe it would be an improvement if there were a few more of the beautiful illustrations from within the book in this chapter to break it up as there is a lot of information provided and it is a little lengthy with just words. I like that within each chapter recipes are divided into sections (e.g. fish, vegetables). I have used a bookmark in this book so that I can quickly find the chapter I want and I think it would be a great bonus if the book had some form of bookmark or section tabs to find things quicker.

The book covers everything you need to know about basic cooking, which is perfect for the novice cook yet it does not patronise experienced cooks, it simply provides parents with all the information they need to create those tasty recipes so that parents of all cooking abilities can provide their babies and children with nutritional and tasty food. I am far from being ‘Delia Smith’ or ‘Nigella Lawson’ but I do know how to cook and even though I knew the basic cooking information provided I liked that it was included for novice cooks and I liked having it there as a safety net for myself to reference back to just in case I was unsure of something especially as I want to ensure I am doing everything right for my little man.

Within this book Annabel Karmel takes the mystery out of what foods are suitable to feed children at each stage and in what consistency. She also breaks down what food to choose in the different stages into categories (e.g. meat, vegetables, fish) and the importance of particular ingredients during that stage, providing suggestions of how to introduce them into the diet and what food is not suitable. Stage by stage you are provided with helpful advice and a range of recipes that are perfect for that particular stage. The information provided is easy to read and understand, helping you know what your baby needs from their diet. This information has made me feel confident that I can move through the stages of weaning with Bug in an enjoyable and tasty way that is also nutritious for him. With the book she also provides great information and advice on a range of topics such as ‘less milk, more appetite,’ ‘junk food substitutes’ and ‘my child won’t eat.’

Not only is the book great for beginning weaning but it also is great for toddlers with recipes aimed for them that are perfect for the whole family. I believe this book would be a great aid in helping parents who has a child who only eats junk food or a child that struggles with food and is fussy with what they eat by helping them go back to basics with simple and flavoursome food.

Annabel Karmel provides recipes for food that is appealing both visually and in taste. The recipes are simple to understand to enable you to create wholesome meals. I like how the recipes would make great meals for the whole family rather being just baby specific which I think is brilliant as it would encourage families to eat together. As well as recipes within the book there are also meal planners for the different stages of eating development. Personally I am happy to just pick and choose recipes on a day to day basis but I think the planner would be helpful to those wanting to plan ahead or who are unsure of when and how much to feed their little one. The meal planners are clearly laid out and look very easy to follow.

I started off by looking at the ‘first stage weaning’ and enjoyed making a few of the purees within this chapter. I like that because I have this book Bug has tried and enjoyed foods that I would not have considered giving him. I would never have thought of giving him papaya or butternut squash and I am so delighted that I have done so as he loves them!! As we have been weaning Bug for quite a while now and he is 6 months old I also looked at and made meals from the ‘second stage weaning.’ Again there are foods included that I would never have thought of giving to Bug and I love that my knowledge of food to give him has been broadened. The recipes I have followed are so easy to do and Bug has loved everything so far with is amazing to see. I am a very proud mummy seeing him enjoy a variety of food and eating well. I have a lovely supply of food in the freezer and it was stress-free to do. I believe that by using this book not only will Bug be getting healthy food he wouldn’t have tried yet as I would not have considered them but I think that by making him meals with food I would not have thought of it will make me try new things and broaden my food experiences. When Bug is older I will be making recipes from this book with him introducing him to cooking and showing him love and respect for food. I look forward to using this book to improve my cooking and our family food experiences.

I think the success of the book lies in its simplicity. I believe what makes it a winner is that it contains easy, tasty recipes with meal plans and easy to understand advice that helps parents through the adventure of weaning to feeding toddlers. For most parents the different stages in a baby’s feeding development are uncharted territory and I believe this is the perfect guide to steer them through it. I know I am one of those parents and it will be my ‘bible’ through this journey with Bug helping me to provide him with the best, nutritious start in life with very tasty food without having to spend hours in the kitchen. This clever little book has taken away the fears I had of not knowing what is best for Bug and has given me the confidence in making him home made food that not only is easy to do but also gives me reassurance that he is having delicious and nutritious food. 

Bug enjoying tasty papaya 

Not only has Annabel Karmel written this book but she is the UK’s best-selling author on feeding babies and children having written 24 books that sell worldwide. This year she has also launched ‘Annabel’s Essential Guide to Feeding your Baby and Toddler’ app for the iphone which features a 100 recipes and ‘Annabel’s Kitchen’ a TV series on cooking with children for CITV. Annabel Karmel has also created a range of products including organic purees and sauces, chilled meals, snacks and equipment to help make feeding easier for parents.

Annabel Karmel’s New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner book can be bought on her website through Amazon for the brilliant price of £8.99 with FREE delivery. Annabel Karmel’s brilliant website includes the vast range of products she does as well as delicious recipes, information on nutrition and weaning, and a forum to chat with other parents and a kids cooking section. Annabel Karmel also has a facebook page and can be found on twitter too.

Thank you Annabel Karmel for helping me become mum I want to be and provide my son with nutritional meals to give him an amazing start in life.

* Annabel Karmel kindly gave us this book to review for free, despite this I have written a honest review that contains my own words and opinions and is 100% my own *

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this! My son is so fussy with certain foods and I'm always looking for ideas to try and sneak them into his diet.