Small steps in wean­ing usu­ally the right ones

Hala Kha­laf speaks to Annabel Karmel about her lat­est book on baby nu­tri­tion that’s also good for par­ents

The National - News - - ARTS & LIFESTYLE -

Her lat­est book – self­pub­lished and mar­keted through so­cial me­dia – sold out in fewer than three months in the UK and has quickly be­come one of the most pop­u­lar of her il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer. But de­spite it boast­ing 120 mouth-wa­ter­ingly tempt­ing recipes, Annabel Karmel is the first to ad­mit that the method of eat­ing she’s pro­mot­ing in her Baby-Led Wean­ing Recipe Book

may not be for ev­ery­one. “This book’s dif­fer­ent,” she says. “The recipes al­low for the chil­dren to feed them­selves, rather than hav­ing their par­ents do it.”

Karmel has writ­ten 43 books, in­clud­ing the now clas­sic Com­plete Baby & Tod­dler Meal

Plan­ner. It sold more than two mil­lion copies and has been trans­lated into dozens of lan­guages. So, af­ter spend­ing 25 years cre­at­ing easy, nu­tri­tious, fam­ily-friendly meals for chil­dren, if any­one has earned the right to call her­self the lead­ing au­thor­ity on feed­ing lit­tle ones, she has.

“Baby-led wean­ing, which means al­low­ing chil­dren to eat on their own in­stead of their par­ent spoon­feed­ing them, can start at six months. But the thing is, it might not suit ev­ery­one,” says Karmel. “Not every child de­vel­ops at the same rate, not every child has the same hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion to al­low for baby-led wean­ing. Some ba­bies at six months are rea­son­ably okay at feed­ing them­selves and oth­ers will never get food in their mouth, but all ba­bies need food from six months; they have to have solids. So if a par­ent wants to try this method of feed­ing, an op­tion can be to use the recipes in this book as a guide and com­bine with purees.

“Every mother should be al­lowed to make up her own mind as to how to feed her baby,” she says.

It’s this flex­i­bil­ity that has al­lowed Karmel to be­come so finely at­tuned to what moth­ers and fa­thers are look­ing for when it comes to how, and what, to feed their chil­dren.

The recipes in her new book, which is chock-full of ad­vice on how to safely in­tro­duce ba­bies to fin­ger food, while still man­ag­ing to feed other, older mem­bers of the fam­ily, are what Karmel is known for.

“These are fan­tas­tic, pro­tein-based fin­ger foods that are de­li­cious and in­cor­po­rate in­gre­di­ents chil­dren should have in their di­ets,” she says, point­ing to recipes like lentil dal, chicken and kale balls and a frit­tata filled with hid­den veg­eta­bles.

“Kids be­come fussy eaters once they hit one,” says Karmel, who has three chil­dren of her own, all of whom she de­scribes as once be­ing picky when it comes to food. “That first year, kids are pretty good about food, but once they hit one and be­come more mo­bile, they are too ex­cited to sit still. There’s so much for them to do and ex­plore, the last thing they want to do is sit in a high­chair and be fed. So you have to at­tract them with food, you have to be a bit of a psy­chol­o­gist, with tricks up your sleeve.”

Pre­tend the child can’t have the food on the par­ent’s plate, for ex­am­ple, says Karmel. Or serve food in small por­tions in tiny ramekins rather than putting it all on one big plate. Or try one of her most pop­u­lar tricks: blend veg­gies into tomato sauces. By mak­ing food at­trac­tive, a child can be en­ticed, says Karmel. “Oth­er­wise, it’s re­turn to sender.”

Karmel ad­mits that a com­bi­na­tion of the more tra­di­tional way of feed­ing a baby – through spoon-fed purees – to­gether with fin­ger foods to in­tro­duce baby-led wean­ing, is her favourite way of feed­ing ba­bies. “This way, you’re mak­ing sure that your baby is get­ting the nu­tri­ents they need. Yes, I know this isn’t true baby-led wean­ing, but you have to do what feels right for you as a par­ent.”

As to how she con­tin­ues to come up with in­ter­est­ing recipes af­ter 43 books, Karmel cred­its both other moth­ers for in­spir­ing her, and In­sta­gram for pro­pel­ling her in the right di­rec­tion.

“I’m a big In­sta­gram­mer,” ad­mits Karmel. “So when I come up with a recipe and I post it on In­sta­gram first, I can tell im­me­di­ately, af­ter about 15 min­utes at most, how pop­u­lar that recipe will be with peo­ple.

“I did some­thing the other day that was so sim­ple: home­made chicken nuggets. I just coated the cut-up chicken with pesto first, then dropped each piece in a bag that was filled with crushed-up rice krispies mixed with parme­san, then baked them in the oven. That was it. Ev­ery­body loved that; it’s so quick and easy.”

Af­ter a child be­comes a year old, par­ents need to put a lit­tle psy­chol­ogy to work to make eat­ing a lit­tle more ap­peal­ing

Chris Whi­teoak for The Na­tional

Annabel Karmel has been a pioneer in child­hood nu­tri­tion for 25 years

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.