Georgina Campbell's Book Reviews

Neven Maguire’s Complete Baby & Toddler Cookbook (Gill & Macmillan hardback 276pp, €18.99; photography by Joanne Murphy).Neven Maguire’s Complete Baby & Toddler Cookbook (Gill & Macmillan hardback 276pp, €18.99; photography by Joanne Murphy).

Every parent wants to give their child the best possible start in life and, just as a good breakfast is the best start to each day, good nutrition in the early stages is the best foundation for health throughout life. And who better to advise than Ireland’s best loved chef and father of 3-year old twins, Neven Maguire?

Although already the author of countless popular cookbooks, this one is different and the public obviously have great faith in it as Neven’s Baby & Toddler Cookbook - inspired by his own children, Connor and Lucia - shot straight to number one, even before the official launch.

Working with a great team including nutritionists and recipe testers, Neven - who is an ambassador for Danone Early Life Nutrition’s ‘First 1,000 Days’ educational programme, who reviewed and approved all the weaning and toddler recipes in the book although there is no commercial input - has produced not just a book of over 200 easy to make recipes and daily meal planners, but also advice on many of the questions that challenge parents today.

It will give confidence to parents wondering about the practical things - when to wean, which foods to start with, when to move on to ‘proper food’, what equipment to buy and so on - and also help, in a wider sense, with advice about things like allergies and whether to choose organic foods, and in setting goals as the routine changes from tiny babyhood to the days when a toddler can share in family meals.

The recipes include all the traditional purées and mashed foods that have sustained generations of babies, recipes with more texture for older babies, dishes that toddlers and all the family can enjoy together, and a final section on children’s party food and family celebrations.

This is the perfect first baby gift. With its combination of traditional common sense and up-to-the-minute nutritional advice, it will guide new parents through the sometimes unnerving early days and help to develop the good eating habits that will lead to a lifetime’s enjoyment of food as well as good health.

And with obesity topping the health worries list at the moment, it will be reassuring to parents to know that care taken with correct nutrition in the early stages - pre-natal, infancy, weaning and toddlerhood - will make obesity in later life far less likely.

On a practical level, the book is well laid out and indexed, it’s a good size, comfortable to handle, and the wipe clean cover makes a lot of sense. If changes are made in a later edition, a page marking ribbon would make a good addition and some of the coloured print might be reconsidered as contrast could be improved on some pages, making for better legibility.


This technique can be used with any vegetable. Bulking it out with the baby rice makes it a much more substantial meal. Makes 600g (24 cubes)

225g carrots
50ml freshly boiled water
2 tbsp baby rice
340ml breast or formula milk

Top and tail the carrots, then peel and cut into thin slices, each about 2-3mm. Place in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid and simmer for 12-14 minutes, until tender. Purée in a food processor and cool.

Mix the baby rice with the milk to make a smooth purée, then fold into the carrot purée. Spoon the cream of carrot puree into ice cube trays and freeze*.

*Flash freeze the filled ice cube trays for about 4 hours. Once the cubes are frozen solid, quickly pop out the cubes into ziplock bags. Make sure you label and date the bags with a waterproof marker.

(Further information and advice on freezing, defrosting and reheating is given in the Top Tips section in Stage 1 of the book)

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