Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mama Bird

First Meals, Annabel Karmel
DK, 2004 updated edition, 187 pages

Oh, the feeding of a little one. A mother's task from the moment a new baby screams her first breath. I was grateful for an easy five months of exclusively breastfeeding my son, and he transitioned easily to baby rice cereal and baby oatmeal around 5 months old. But when it was time to add purees and combinations, I needed help. My library had a copy of First Meals. I checked it out, renewed it, and renewed it again. I had to have a copy.

The first thing I loved about the book was the layout. It's got glossy pages, lots of full-color photos of food and babies, and lists of ingredients in bold along the margin of the page for easy glancing. This is really helpful. In addition to recipes, each chapter contains helpful tips, medically-backed advice, and guidance for parents. Sidebars with bullet-point lists of things to remember or pantry staples or nutritional needs to keep in mind are easy to read and packed with information.

The recipes themselves don't require a degree from cooking school, but describe ingredients and procedures simply enough to be accessible to the amateur chef. Our favorite meal when Henry was just getting started with puree blends was Lentil and Vegetable Puree. I was actually envious of my son when he was chowing down on a lunch of Lentil and Veggie Puree! Pasta options, chicken and fish meals, and vegetable-rich dishes are featured in every chapter. In the chapter for babies between 9 and 12 months, meals include Apple and Date Oatmeal, Cheesy Pasta Stars, Creamy Chicken and Broccoli, and Flaked Cod with Tomatoes and Zucchini. Finger food choices appear in later chapters, and many of the recipes for older babies are tasty enough for the whole family. Weekly menu suggestions in the back of the book provide inspiration and encouragement to keep going when homemade baby foods start to feel like a burden.

For new moms first weaning little ones, nannies and babysitters looking for creative meal options, or veteran moms and grandmoms needing new inspiration, First Meals has friendly recipes and practical ideas that will please little ones from their first tastes until their first lunchboxes.

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