It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned cook or someone new to the kitchen, preparing food for babies and toddlers requires patience and creativity as you’re likely wandering into unfamiliar territory. What a child gleefully accepts one day is flat out refused the next; so keeping meal inspiration at your fingertips is essential to your family’s well being, not to mention your own sanity.
Here are 12 of the best cookbooks for those cooking for babies and toddlers:
1. The Forest Feast for Kids by Erin Gleeson
The colourful vegetarian meals in this recipe collection were created for kids to cook, but honestly I find them to be some of the best recipes written for feeding young kids, and I turn to it for meatless meal inspiration almost weekly. Our fave dishes include the pesto pepper pizza, watermelon smoothies, butternut quesadillas, and fried banana splits. I also appreciate the party ideas and crafty table decoration ideas.
$30.59, available at chapters.indigo.ca
2. Weelicious by Catherine McCord
If there’s one book that will help you feed your family through the persnickety infant to picky preschooler years, this is it. It’s to busy moms what the Joy of Cooking was to our grandmothers: an indispensable resource to help you get a good (kid-approved!) meal on the table.
$26, available at chapters.indigo.ca
3. Real Baby Food by Jenna Helwig
Nothing compares to the benefits of making your own baby food—it’s fresh, unprocessed and flavourful—and Jenna Helwig helps you fit this act into a busy day by offering ideas that are easy, fast and flexible. Also packed full of useful tips like how to start your baby on solid food, how to recognize a food allergy and how to cook in bulk, this book is ideal for first time mothers. This is my go-to baby shower gift these days.
$17.74, available at chapters.indigo.ca
4. Smoothie-Licious by Jenna Helwig
It’s no secret that my toddler is somewhat addicted to his daily smoothie. I attribute this to the fact that I consumed one almost daily when I was pregnant with him, and thanks to Jenna Helwig’s book Smoothie-Licious I’ve yet to run out of healthy, nourishing ideas. She considers smoothies to be the perfect family food, as they are an easy and delicious way to get kids and adults to eat healthier. They’re also a blessing for busy parents or those feeding picky eaters.
$19, available at chapters.indigo.ca
5. Dinner a Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
Inspired by the blog of the same name, this brilliant cookbook/memoir will help you not only with your family meals, but also parenting in general. For anyone who cares about family meals, doesn’t want to cook more than one dish for dinner, enjoys satisfying simple recipes, and can appreciate funny and wise family anecdotes. In other words, it’s for everyone.
$29.50, available at chapters.indigo.ca
6. The Hospital for Sick Children’s Better Baby Food by Daina Kalnins and Joanne Saab
I have the first edition of this book, which was published in 2001, and have used it regularly through the feeding of three kids over the past 16 years. Updated in 2008, the 200-plus recipes are organized by meal and age range, and include the most up-to-date expert advice on feeding babies, from breastfeeding and bottle-feeding through to the introduction of solid foods. The beauty of this book is that the recipes are wholesome and delicious and can also be enjoyed by the whole family.
$17.52, available at chapters.indigo.ca
7. Start Fresh by Tyler Florence
Celebrity chef Tyler Florence took his years of knowledge and skill from the professional kitchen and turned them into tools to help him feed his growing family. The result was a line of organic baby food, and this book, which presents 60 quick, user-friendly recipes the whole family will enjoy.
$15.50, available at chapters.indigo.ca
8. Bébé Gourmet by Jenny Carenco
The French are famous for their sophisticated taste buds and culinary traditions, and this book brings both of those to the table in this collection of recipes designed to help you raise an adventurous eater. From carrot and cumin purée to baby beef bourguignon, these ideas will help you teach your children to appreciate a variety or flavours, ingredients and textures from the first spoonful.
$25.52, available at chapters.indigo.ca
9. Around the World in 80 Purees by Leena Saini
This book will help you to introduce your baby to a world of flavors with easy-to-make recipes for homemade baby food, featuring healthy ingredients, baby-friendly spices, and cuisines from India, China, France, Mexico, Morocco, and the rest of the globe. It’s time to think outside the jar with these quick and easy recipes using your favourite flavours and spices. I was particularly pleased with the English peas and mint purée as well as the Italian pastina with Parmesan and nutmeg.
$22.60, available at chapters.indigo.ca
10. French Kids Eat Everything by Karen LeBillion
I read this book when my older kids were little, and I plan on flipping through it again now that I have a two-year-old to feed. Like Dinner a Love Story, it’s an indispensible guide to feeding your family. From the book: ‘French children happily eat everything and most of what they eat is healthy. That’s not all: child obesity rates in France are significantly lower than in North America, where poor nutrition is so widespread that it threatens the health and well-being of our children. So how do French parents teach their children how to eat so well? And how do the French government and school systems support families, teachers, and farmers to provide food education? French Kids Eat Everything answers these questions, and more.’
$16.37, available at chapters.indigo.ca
11. Growing Up Gourmet by Jennifer Carlson
Written by Jennifer Carlson, co-creator of Baby Gourmet—one of the top-selling organic baby food brands in North America—this book shows parents how to make nutritious, delicious homemade meals and snacks your baby and older family members will enjoy. The mouth-watering recipes introduce young eaters to a variety of modern tastes and textures and include ingredients like kale, fennel, amaranth, spelt, and turmeric.
$20, available at chapters.indigo.ca
12. Parents Need to Eat Too by Debbie Koenig
This book isn’t about feeding babies and toddlers, but instead is specifically designed to help frazzled parents get a good meal into themselves while juggling the demands of a new baby. The recipes are delicious, nutritious, satisfying and EASY an include categories such as: meals you can eat with one hand, recipes for a slow cooker, recipes that support breastfeeding, and more ambitious recipes to prepare while baby is napping. Solid gold information every parent can use!
$20.90, available at chapters.indigo.ca