One day your little one is eating her first scoop of baby cereal...the next you're wondering what to feed a growing toddler. Your toddler will go through many eating stages, and knowing which foods are good for her right now can be confusing. These recipe books offer ideas for great meals kids can enjoy from their first birthday onward.
This easy-to-follow guide by Nicole Young and Nadine Day, R.D., includes a wide variety of recipes for foods that are meant to be run through a blender and pureed. These meals are for babies that are not yet eating finger foods or who may not be getting enough nutrition from finger foods. There are also suggestions for using purees in in recipes for babies who are beginning to eat more "chew" food. Much of the advice has to do with helping you figure out the serving size and types of foods that are best for a baby and young toddler at each stage. It also helps you decide what to move on to when a baby is ready for new foods. While it is really an introduction to starting solids with your baby from six months through her first birthday, these recipes can carry you through the second year as well. They are especially helpful if you have a toddler who is just not ready for food with a lumpy consistency. Plus, many of the puree recipes include a "for older kids" tip that can help you adapt a baby recipe your child may already love into a toddler-appropriate meal.
Favorite recipe for toddlers: Vegetable Frittata
A best-selling author from the United Kingdom, Annabel Karmel has written 17 books about nutrition and recipes for babies and children, including The Healthy Baby Meal Planner
. This cookbook is a good introduction to toddler food for parents who aren't sure where to start. There are only 18 recipes and some are really just serving ideas (put fruit on a skewer, for instance). Still, if you're questioning what's healthy and practical and searching for not-too-hard-to-make fare, this can be a good place to start. The picture diagrams and funky format make it a fun book to use with older toddlers, but I felt that a child really needs to be over 3 years old to help with most of the recipes featured here.
Favorite recipe for toddlers: Easy Cheesy Bread Rolls
This cookbook by by Jessica Seinfeld is in the tradition of The Sneaky Chef
by Missy Chase Lapine. The premise: you can get more vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and nutritiously rich food into a picky eater by mixing pureed and grated fruit or vegetables into classis kids food like mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. I prefer Deceptively Delicious
to others in this cooking genre because it's just more user friendly. Lapine, for instance, spends more time explaining the science behind her nutritional advice and the rational for her approach (which, by the way, is debated by many moms, chefs, and nutritionists
). It is very interesting, but I really just want the recipes. I am sold on the idea of mixing vegetables into my family’s food because I think the addition of pureed carrots ups their value. But I don't think of it as "sneaking" stuff in. My kids still get a side of those carrots or another vegetable. And we're not kidding anyone. My chicken nuggets with spinach are not the one's my son drools over down at the Golden Arches. Yet, he's used to my version and eats them with the same acceptance that he eats pizza with spinach or turkey meatballs.
Favorite recipe for toddlers: spaghetti and (turkey) meatballs with butternut squash and carrot
This book, again by the prolific family chef Annabel Karmel, is far from a toddler-focused cookbook. Instead, it's a collection of highly nutritious recipes that are meant to appeal to family members of all ages with diverse tastes. I found the ingredient lists for some of them too long for my need-to-keep-it-simple (though a better cook than me, would probably disagree), but overall I like the selection of dishes. I can easily create a month of meals with this book. The reason I am putting this on a toddler cook book list is that many of these family recipes can be adjusted or parts of the meal can be broken out to be served to a toddler. Since my goal is to get a toddler eating the same food as the rest of the family as soon as possible, this makes the book a good find. So, for instance, I could break up the mini burgers (made "sneakily" with apple) for my one year old, cut up the chicken and potato pancake, and serve him up some quiche or the other featured egg dishes
, which are always a hit in our house.
Favorite recipe for toddlers: Simon's multilayered cottage pie