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If you're in a hurry and just want to find out what the best baby food is, I'd recommend the Real Baby Food, by Jenna Helwig.
What’s a mom to do when their baby starts getting sick of eating the same purees over and over? There are only so many times one can eat banana puree before they lose their mind. However, trying to make a new combination for your baby can feel pretty intimidating. Baby food recipe books are a handy guide to help the task seem much less scary.
There are so many options out there, so which one is the best baby food book? I’ve come up with some pretty solid options for you.
Here are the baby food books I will be reviewing:
Making Baby Food at Home
Preparing your baby’s food at home comes with plenty of benefits, but it’s essential to make sure you’re doing so correctly. This is especially important when cooking is involved. Depending on the type of food, cooking instructions will vary.
When preparing your fresh produce, make sure to wash them before cooking thoroughly. Rigorous washing will remove any surface impurities, like dirt, as well as any leftover chemicals if it isn’t organic. After doing this, you can start to mash them into a puree.
Keep in mind, if you’re working with a hard fruit or vegetable (apples, carrots, etc.), they need to be cooked first to soften them up. Whether you choose to bake, steam, or boil, you’ll need to add liquid to get the consistency you’re looking for.
If you want thinner purees you’ll need more liquid, and less for more mushy meals. You should only use water, breast milk, or formula as your liquid agent.
The most popular baby food grains are rice, oatmeal, and barley. If you want to add grains to a meal, grind them in a blender or food processor until they become powder. After doing that, add your desired liquid while cooking until you get the consistency you’d like.
Once babies start on solid food, their iron levels will drop significantly. To avoid this, you can use breast milk or formula as your liquid.
You can also cook the grains first and then puree them if you choose. Keep an eye on your puree while doing this because grains, especially rice, can become pasty this way.
Before pureeing, you’ll need to make sure you thoroughly cook any meat you use. Be sure to save the juices because you’ll need them later. After cooking, chop your meat up into small chunks and let them cool.
The meat will need to be cold before placing it in your blender or food processor. Like the other food groups above, you’ll need a liquid to get your desired consistency. This is where the meat juices will come in. You’ll add as much or as little liquid as you want until you get the right consistency for your baby.
The same process goes for preparing fish too, but you won’t need to wait for the fish to cool before pureeing. You should use water as the liquid agent for fish.
There are two different ways you can prepare eggs for your baby:
- Hard boil your egg and then peel the shell away. Pop out the yolk and then mix with breast milk, formula, or another desired liquid.
- Crack your egg and separate the egg white and the yolk. Use olive oil or butter in a pan and scramble the egg yolk with breast milk or formula before frying it up.
An introduction technique that has gained quite a bit of popularity lately is that of baby-led weaning (BLW). This method is when you give your baby the reigns and let them explore food on their own. You skip purees altogether and let your little one tell you when they’re ready to try eating.
Baby-led weaning comes with a variety of benefits. Perhaps the most significant advantage of this technique is its encouragement of fine-motor skills. With BLW, you offer your child regular foods, and they practice picking it up on their own.
BLW also encourages the following developmental skills:
- Eye-hand coordination.
- Healthy eating.
It also gives your baby the chance to explore new foods on their terms. It’s also convenient because you don’t need to worry about spending a ton of money on pre-packaged baby food. However, there are some critical things to know about BLW:
- Wait until your baby is ready: If your baby isn’t showing readiness signs like sitting unassisted and a strong neck, they aren’t ready to start solids.
- Weaning doesn’t mean weaning in this case: Even though it’s called baby-led weaning, you should still give your baby breast milk or formula.
- Supervision is required: Never leave your baby unattended while practicing BLW. They may accidentally choke on a piece of food.
- Start soft: Starting with soft foods like shredded meat and cooked vegetables helps ease them into the process.
- Make food easy to grasp: The whole point of BLW is to give your child independence. Easy-to-grab foods will make that easier.
- Nutrients are important: You should also make sure you’re offering your baby enough calories and a balance of nutrients.
- Embrace the chaos: Just like any other feeding method, BLW can cause a mess. The chances are high that a lot of food will end up on the floor in the beginning.
- Eat together: Eating meals together not only helps you bond with your baby, but it also makes them much more likely to eat new foods.
Things to Keep in Mind
I’ve covered the basics when it comes to preparing a puree, but baby food recipe books give you creative and yummy recipes to try out. Baby food books serve as a helpful resource for you, but there are things you should consider when choosing one.
Your Family Diet
First and foremost, you’re going to want a book that lines up with your family’s diet. If your household is vegan or vegetarian, you’ll want to find a baby food book without meat recipes. This way, your baby will be used to the family diet when they’re ready to eat regular food.
Your Baby’s Age
You should also consider your baby’s age. There are books out there for babies, toddlers, and both. As your child grows, they’re going to graduate to different levels of solids. It may be beneficial to get a book that covers recipes for both babies and toddlers. Then you won’t need to purchase another book when your baby is done with purees.
My Baby Food Book Reviews
So which recipe books are the best? I’ve done my research and come up with a top-five list for you. You’ll also find my pick for the best baby food book below.
Real Baby Food, by Jenna Helwig
This baby food cookbook has 100 different recipes to choose from that will last your child into toddlerhood. Along with these, the author also shows you how to start your child on solid foods. She also covers how to spot food allergies and ways to easily cook in bulk too.
Most of the recipes can be frozen, and each meal page includes all nutritional information for you. This is nice because you can more easily tell what nutrients your baby is getting. Not only does this title provide meal ideas, but it offers several different snack recipes as well.
It also comes with a handy guide of icons. These icons will appear next to recipes that have a quick prep/cook time, are toddler-friendly, or can be frozen. They also provide a guide that tells you the number of calories and other nutrients your baby needs according to age.
The Big Book of Organic Baby Food, by Stephanie Middleberg
If you’re looking for a variety, this is an excellent book to consider. Inside the pages, you’ll find over 115 recipes for purees and more than 40 recipes for smoothies and finger foods. I like this one a lot because it includes smoothies, which are a terrific tool for picky eaters.
The book is broken up by chapters and goes up by age, starting at six months old. Each chapter covers a specific stage and the developmental changes that come with it. The chapters also include a FAQ section about nutrition at each stage.
I also really like this one because a certified dietician nutritionist writes it. This way, you know you’re getting nutritional information from an expert. The author uses expert knowledge along with her personal experience to make the book more accessible for parents to relate to.
The Complete Baby and Toddler Cookbook, by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
This book is the perfect addition to the kitchen shelf for families that love to cook together. It includes recipes for your kids starting from their first purees. This one made my list because its recipes will last your child well beyond toddlerhood.
Each recipe gives suggestions on how your child can help as well. Assisting in the kitchen provides an excellent bonding activity for when your baby gets a little older.
When tackling purees, the recipes in this book encourage food mixing and offer a slew of combinations for your baby. The cool thing about this one is that each recipe has a tips section for babies and toddlers. These tips offer suggestions to alter the recipe, so it’s better for that specific age group.
Little Foodie, by Michele Olivier and Sara Peternell
This baby food book encourages your baby to become a food “taster” before a food “eater.” The author suggests starting slow with just two teaspoons of puree in the beginning. I like this because it allows your baby to ease into this brand new experience.
The book comes with over 100 different recipes with interesting ingredients like fennel, ricotta, and couscous. There’s even a recipe for toddler sushi! It’s organized chronologically by age and includes an FAQ about nutrition and eating habits by age and stage.
The book was written by a chef and nutritionist as well, so you’re getting expert information throughout the entire thing.
Top 100 Baby Purees, by Annabel Karmel
If you’re looking for something solely dedicated to purees, this will be your best bet. It comes with 100 tried and true puree recipes for your baby. The book also comes with helpful tips to make the feeding experience easier for both you and baby.
The recipes in this book all come with unique icons with different meanings. These icons will tell you if a recipe is freezer-friendly, the age it’s appropriate for, cooking time, and portion size.
You’ll also find information inside on allergens, weaning tips, and food preparation, among other things. A nutritional expert wrote this book.
You’re a Food Expert Now!
Baby food books are a helpful tool in making a new experience way less intimidating. Real Baby Food, by Jenna Helwig, is my favorite because it’s full of useful information and has nutritional facts for each recipe. I’m a big fan of knowing what I’m eating, and the same goes for my baby too.
While this is my pick for the best baby food book, the other options on my list are fantastic resources as well. So get reading, go shopping, and most importantly, have fun!