For the next few weeks on the blog I thought I would share my thoughts on some of the most popular and/or recently released cookbooks for babies and toddlers.
Starting the weaning process often leads people to think about their own diets a little more, and the need to limit salt and sugar for young children often encourages people to do more cooking and rely less on convenience, processed foods. Having a good cookbook to hand will help nurture this enthusiasm for homemade cooking and can help get the kids involved too.
This week I’ll start with a newly released one, The Tickle Fingers Cookbook.
Just to stress that I have no association with any of the authors or publishers of any of these books. I either hired the books from the library or already owned them having purchased them myself. I am reviewing them as a mum who often finds cooking when time-limited a bit of a chore, wants to get the kids involved where I can and eat the same thing as a family wherever possible. I have looked over the recipes and advice given in the books from a nutritional perspective but only in a superficial capacity.
Author: Annabel Woolmer
Aimed at: Cooking with 1-4 year olds
Price: Currently available on Amazon for £12.08 for the hardback version
Range of choices – 3 out of 5
Types of dishes – 3 out of 5
Ease to cook – 5 out of 5
Suitability for allergy sufferers – 3.5 out of 5
Suitability for the whole family – 3 out of 5
This book allows toddlers to get really involved in all aspects of the food preparation with very easy to prepare meals and snacks. It is very user-friendly. Recipes are classified into 3 sections by the level of difficulty so that your child can progress through the sections as their age and ability level increases. There is lots of advice for parents and carers on approach and preparation for those who haven’t braved cooking with little ones before.
The number of recipes is more limited than other books I have looked at. It contains some nice breakfast, lunch and dessert choices. Nothing too exciting in the snack time options and quite limited mains choices mean that you’ll not use this book for weekly meal planning but would be perfect for making a couple of recipes a week with your little one that everyone could enjoy. The need to avoid handling of raw meat (everything in the recipe is suitable for a child to put in their mouths without you stressing out about it!) means that there is a heavier weighting towards fish dishes so you will find your choices for main meals are a bit more limited if you dislike fish.
Although not a book about weaning, there are a number of recipes that could be easily adapted for the BLW approach (e.g. by using golden syrup in place of honey). We found it a nice way to get older siblings interested in cooking for their little brother or sister.
For those with food allergies there is an allergy chart at the back to easily pick your recipes, and ideas for allergy substitutions with each recipe. Those with nut and gluten allergies can attempt almost all the recipes listed, and there are only 11 and 7 out of the 60 recipes that are not suitable for egg and dairy allergies respectively, so still a good variety to try.
As much as the book encourages kids to get stuck in to cooking there is also a useful ‘sticky fingers’ alert for those children with sensory difficulties or who might not like this sensation so that this step can be avoided or undertaken by an adult.
The ingredients used are easy to source and there is a useful key ingredients list to keep in stock for impromptu rainy day cooking. There’s also a useful section on ideas for using up leftover food items you have lying around.
- Blueberry Yogurt Muffins (but used apricots in place of blueberries)
- Courgette & Carrot Bites
- Overnight Oats (using strawberries in place of blueberries)
We also used golden syrup in place of honey so that the baby could try them too
The overnight oats were a definite hit at breakfast and we’ll be making those again. The other two recipes were good for taking out for snacks for the children, not really a winner with the adults. The portion sizes were great for little ones and we managed to make 3 recipes in an hour (not including cooking time) so there should be something suitable even for those with a very limited attention span.
The only downsides I would suggest with the book are that the pictures could be bigger (my little girl loves to see exactly what the end product should look like) and the ingredients and steps for each recipe could be in an easier read format so that older children could start to follow these themselves.
It would be a lovely one to send them with to grandma’s house on a rainy day or as a gift for a friend with a toddler. Not one if you’re looking for advice on weaning, an everyday cookbook or meal plan ideas.
You’ll love this book if…..
- You got on well with the baby-led weaning approach
- You love the idea of your children learning through cooking from a young age
- You don’t mind what the final product looks like too much!