This is a review post of the Annabel Karmel cookbook Quick and Easy Weaning. Full details of the review are below.
Time flies. Having turned six months, Woodie’s eyes are wandering away from my breasts (I mean how?) and he’s looking for grub. He’s eyeballing our plates, chewing everything he can find and sitting proud on laps while leaning forward to grab anything and everything within reach. Last week he stuck his hand in his Daddy’s Chicken Korma, stuffed it in his mouth and laughed. So it’s high time I listen to the child, dust off the plastic pots, surrender to the extra smelly nappies and embrace the mashed banana in my hair. Solids are here.
Three babies on you’d think I remember stuff about how to wean a baby onto solids but I’m frankly vague on details. On Spidey I pureed everything, worrying that if he hadn’t tried avocado by 7 months surely he’d hate guacamole forever. On Yoda I did the complete opposite and she quickly moved from mash to finger food to feeding herself with a spoon at 10 months. Some would call it ‘baby led weaning’ I would call it ‘relaxed weaning with a smattering of neglect’. Either way they are both completely normal eaters – in that they are fussy one day and easy the next. And they both hate guacamole.
It’s timely so that I’ve been asked to review Annabel Karmel’s latest contribution to creating mini foodies: her new book entitled Quick and Easy Weaning. We have two of her books already and they were well used – particularly in the finger food stage. To this day we use her very fabulous, sugar-free pancake recipe pretty much every Sunday morning, for the most reliable and tasty pancakes ever.
As someone who adores both cooking and cook books, I love the layout of the book. The introductory sections of the book have loads of information on food types, cooking methods and timing and is the kind of information that – particularly on your first baby, you need to have at hand. The recipes are categorised under the main ingredients (fruit, vegetables, meat, etc.) and as usual the photographs and illustrations are lovely. Starting with purées, there is a great variety of recipes which would encourage you to experiment with a great range of flavours from an early stage. For a first time weaner (not weiner) the instructions are clear and there’s a very handy daily schedule that would put the most stressed new parent’s mind at ease that everything is progressing nicely. Moving past the puree and into the mash stage, the meals have the massive advantage of being family friendly recipes that you could fork mash and lighten up with a little milk before serving to a baby, allowing you to chuck out the plastic ice-cube trays and never look back.
Personally, I like to mish mash (no pun intended) the ‘spoon-feeding’ and baby-led’ approaches and that is what I will be doing with Woodie. For this early stage he’ll be getting a little of everything and have the best of both worlds. That said I’m probably erring more on the side of lumpy puree that silky smooth stuff but with a rice cake in one hand and a chomping on a mouthful of apple-laced Ready Brek, my man seems quite happy.
From the point of view of the new recipes in the book, I’m particularly interested in the finger foods and the recipes for older kids. I have no appetite (I really should apologise for these puns) for cooking different foods for everyone so the sooner we move towards a ‘one meal feeds all’ approach the happier I’ll be. The treats also look tasty and lend themselves to a morning of toddler baking so we’ll definitely be trying those out.
Recipes aside one aspect of the book I don’t agree with is in relation to timing the introduction to solids. The book notes that solids should be introduced after 17 weeks, but before 24 weeks. It sets out some of the signs of readiness including increased waking for night feeds, interest in food, holding the head up etc. Speaking as a mum of three exclusively breastfed babies who were all over 8lb at birth and were always big babies, I have always weaned my large bubbas at about a week either side of the 6 month mark, when they had mastered sitting (albeit unsupported) and putting hands and all sorts into their mouths. I have never had a baby that slept through the night until about 10-months old (and then it was sporadic), but would be realistic that night-waking is perfectly normal and thankfully healthy for a young baby, rather than an indicator that milk is not satisfying their appetite. I think these are better markers of a baby’s readyness and more in keeping with a baby-led approach, and would worry that post-17 week and pre-24 weeks are on the early side. These are aspects of the advice set out in the book that parents may want to consider and possibly evaluate in the context of other advice from a Public Health Nurse or indeed from the baby-led weaning literature.
That said if you’re starting to wean or in the market for some nice food ideas for all the family, I’d definitely recommend Annabel Karmel’s Quick and Easy Weaning book. Packed with information, recipes and very handy schedules it will be a helpful guide to putting your little one on the path to adventurous and healthy eating.
Note: as stated earlier, I have been given this cookbook free of charge with the purposes of reviewing it. All thoughts and opinions are my own and entirely independent.