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If you love cooking, p reparing home-cooked meals is a great way to save money and make sure your family is eating lots of fresh, tasty food. Making time to cook from a recipe scratch can be tricky for parents, but finding new meals that your family love makes it worth it.
Following recipes from a cookbook doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming. Recipes using simple, fresh, healthy ingredients can form the basis of so many meals that parents and children will like.
However, it can sometimes be difficult to keep everyone happy at family mealtimes, mainly due to the fact that toddlers are notoriously fussy about what they eat, so aren't going to enjoy the majority of food you put in front of them!
From cooking simple purées for weaning babies onto solids , to tackling fussy eaters and providing healthy, nutritious meals on a daily basis, we've picked the 10 best cookbooks to help you put easy and delicious food on the table for your kids.
1. Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel
*Free if you buy Amazon Kindle Unlimited
*Over 200 quick, easy and nutritious recipes for weaning and beyond
*Has remained the number one bestselling book for children for 15 years!
Annabel Karmel is the queen of baby and toddler cookery and her feeding books are a must for every kitchen. Her cookbooks will guide parents through every stage of a child’s development and are filled with quick, healthy and simple meals to cook for your baby or toddler. The cookbook is experience-based and the recipes have been tried and tested, earning the book its great reputation. Many of the recipes can be adapted as your child grows and learns to eat different types of food. By adjusting the seasoning, parents and older children can enjoy the recipes, too! It covers everything from purées for first baby meals, ideas for baby led weaning, plus recipes that toddlers and older kids (and parents) will love. As an added bonus, the Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner is packed full of tips and tricks as well as recipes.
2. The Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira
*Tailored guide for feeding babies from six months to three years old
*Nutrition-focused, as co-author Karen Ansel is a registered dietitian specialising in health, wellness, food, and nutrition
*Provides information about how different nutrients benefit your baby
The Baby & Toddler cookbook guides parents through feeding their child from six months to three years old, offering homemade and healthy recipes. A benefit of this book is its focus on nutrition and health, making it suitable for parents with a keen interest in wellness. All that's needed for most recipes is a steamer and blender, too, so you don't have to splash out on fancy equipment.
3. The Gina Ford Baby & Toddler Cook Book by Gina Ford
*Ideal for busy parents who haven't got a lot of time to cook
*Makes it easy to feed little ones healthy, nutritious food
*Takes a realistic, simple approach to preparing healthy food for little ones
The Gina Ford Baby & Toddler Cookbook gives a realistic approach to providing good nutrition quickly and easily. Ideal for modern-day parents with limited time, it offers advice on batch cooking, making vegetables appealing to fussy eaters and doesn't forget about breakfast, either. The accessibility of the book will suit first-time parents, and those who work long hours.
4. The Allergy-Free Baby & Toddler Cookbook
*Focuses on free-from cooking for little ones with food sensitivities and allergies
*100 recipes, all of which are free from dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soya, gluten, sesame and shellfish
*Works with any weaning method used
If your baby has an allergy or intolerance, weaning may seem like an overwhelming task. With over 100 free-from recipes though, this book provides a huge variety of tasty, allergy-safe meal ideas. It also includes expert tips and tricks for preparing nutritious, free-from food for babies, toddlers and children.
5. Baby and Toddler Meals for Dummies by Dawn Simmons, Curt Simmons and Sallie Warren
*Simple, easy to follow and fuss-free
*Explains what to introduce at what age, so great for first time parents
*Offers ideas for saving money and serving food that fussy children will like
Best for parents who are not naturally gifted in the cookery department! The Baby and Toddler Meals for Dummies includes tips for feeding picky eaters and coping with allergies and shows you how to prepare fresh, home-cooked meals. You don't have to be a dummy to use it, though, as this comprehensive guide is perfect for first-time parents who want a guide to introducing new foods. Many of the recipes are ideal for parents wanting to bond with their toddler or child by cooking together, too.
6. 25 Foods Kids Hate…And how to get them eating 24 by Fiona Faulkner
*Go-to guide for feeding picky eaters
*Best if your child won't eat many foods in traditional recipes
*Health and nutritional information as well as a guide for introducing new foods
If you have a fussy eater, you know the daily struggle of trying to get them to eat anything remotely healthy and nutritious. This book targets 25 of the foods your child is most likely to refuse and gives hints on how to introduce them. Each item of food comes with tips and techniques for introducing it into your child's diet, information about why it is important that you do, and two recipes.
7. Smart Bites for Baby: 300 Easy-to-Make, Easy-to-Love Meals That Boost Your Baby and Toddler's Brain by Mika Shino
*300 recipes, so you'll never run out of new recipes to try
*Focuses on developing the mind and senses of toddlers
*Great for introducing World flavours and textures
Putting emphasis on colour, texture, and flavour that will appeal to tots, this book is ideal for parents looking to find more nutritious versions of the foods toddlers love, from mac 'n’ cheese to ice lollies. It draws on cuisine from around the globe, so you can get your toddler trying new flavours while still fulfilling their nutritional needs.
8. Vegetarian Food For Healthy Kids
*One for vegetarian families, or even parents who want to reduce their child's meat intake
*Packed with nutritious recipes from around the world
*Includes Kids Cook recipes which children can make themselves (with a little supervision!)
With 100 vegetarian recipes suitable for little ones, this book is a must-have for parents raising their children without meat. The variation and nutritional information means toddlers and children will never be bored with a vegetarian diet, and it can even be useful for parents who simply want to incorporate more meat-free meals into family mealtimes. An added bonus is the 'Kids Cook' recipes, which are great for little chefs.
9. River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook
*Adventurous recipes for parents who love to cook
*Great for toddlers who want to be involved in family mealtimes
*Tasty meals such as fishcakes, pea risotto and shepherd’s pie
Gone are the days of feeding your child boring and bland purées, this book brings adventure and tons of flavour into feeding your toddler, making food that is not only healthy but looks amazing too. If you find most toddler cookbooks too basic, or your little one enjoys flavourful meals, this is for you.
Plant Based Baby
This handy book by parenting journalist and Vegan Nutritionist Sally J. Hall is packed with helpful information if you want to bring your baby up happily and safely as a vegan. It helps new parents feel confident feeding their baby on a nutritious plant-based diet, including all the essential vitamins, minerals and protein needed for development and growth. From their very first tastes, it focusses on questions vegan parents may have about protein, how safe it is to wean a baby on a vegan diet and more. It covers both spoon fed and baby-led weaning and has lots of yummy recipes with stunning photographs and step-by-step guides. There are ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and soon the whole family can eat a plant-based diet together.
Which foods should toddlers and babies avoid eating?
- Saturated fat
- Whole nuts and peanuts
- Some cheeses
- Raw and lightly cooked eggs
How much should my toddler be eating?
Your toddler should eat three healthy meals a day, plus one or two snacks.
Make sure your child eats from each of the basic four food groups each day:
- Meat, fish, poultry, eggs
- Milk, cheese, and other dairy products
- Fruits and vegetables
- Cereals, potatoes, rice, flour products
Cooking healthy meals from scratch really encourages children to eat a variety of flavours and ingredients.
Not every parent has time to spend hours in the kitchen cooking everyday, but healthy meals can be quick and simple, especially if you cook in bulk for several days.
Buying a special book for weaning and feeding your baby or toddler can help to give you ideas on what to cook and give them a varied diet to eat.
Basic purees are easy to make, often just blended fruit and vegetables and you can adapt toddler meals to suit children of any age or even the whole family.
This cuts down on food waste, preparation time and means you can all eat together as a family.
Look for a cook book that has a whole host of recipes that are quick and easy to make and also suitable for weaning and creating healthy family meals.
Annabel Karmel has published a series of well-known cookery books for babies, toddlers and young children, which are all available to buy at Amazon for a reasonable price.
When should toddlers stop eating baby food?
Weaning your baby on homemade purees is the most common way to start them on solid food, unless you are following a baby led weaning regime.
Baby led weaning is when you don't feed your baby pureed food at all and you start the weaning process by letting them feed themselves with little chunks of food.
Baby led weaning means that babies are in control of what they are eating and how much they eat.
The foods would usually be soft pieces held in the hand, rather than being offered on a spoon.
Some people think that the baby led weaning method is better as children who are allowed to choose their own food are also believed to be less unlikely to become fussy eaters.
It's fine to combine both feeding methods to see what types of foods your child prefers to eat.
Once your baby starts to bring their hands and other objects to their mouth, you can start to offer more finger food (usually around 9-12 months).
Children can start to self-feed from this age, but will not use a fork or spoon until after 12 months of age.
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