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Best weaning books to help you introduce your baby to solids

Weaning is a really exciting stage for parents and babies alike, but it’s not without its challenges. From the preparing and feeding to the tidying up after, it can be a frustrating phase that requires a certain amount of organisation and patience. So we hope the books on this list are great sources of information and reassurance as you start your weaning journey.

By Kat Storr | Last updated Dec 16, 2021

baby eating solid foods with spoon

Just when you feel like you’re getting to grips with parenting, you find yourself entering another new stage. Introducing… weaning.

While some parents can find weaning stressful, luckily there are products out there to help mums, dads and carers with this fun but occasionally daunting milestone. Books can be a great place to start as not only do many of them advise you on the best foods and ingredients to start your baby off with, but they also contain creative, tasty and easy recipes to follow.

How we chose our recommendations 

We studied reviews of weaning books on the Mumsnet forums to find out which books parents had bought and rated highly – and which they weren't impressed by.

We collated all that information and then looked at other online reviews to see which were the bestsellers and which received rave reviews after purchase. We then cross-referenced all that information to find the weaning books that had won the most accolades and recommendations across the board.

Here are the best weaning books to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall weaning book: Weaning Made Simple by Annabel Karmel

weaning made simple book

Price: From £8.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“Annabel Karmel’s book Weaning Made Simple has been great for us. Also signed up to Ella’s Kitchen which gives you a free chart, little book and regular emails.” Lockdownmummy

Annabel Karmel has been the top name in weaning for decades and there’s a reason why she is the UK’s number one expert.

With dozens of books full of essential information for preparing your baby for weaning, Weaning Made Simple, released just last year, contains a multitude of useful ingredient lists, meal planners, portion guidance and even real size illustrations of finger food.

It helps parents learn how to balance solids and milk feeds as they begin the weaning process as well as key information about allergies, important nutrients and special diets.

2. Best weaning book for clear and colourful recipes: Ella’s Kitchen The First Foods Book: The Purple One

Ella's Kitchen First Foods Book

Price: From £4.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I liked the Ella's Kitchen: The First Foods books for ideas of things to make.” Haneggsandchips

Ella’s Kitchen has become one of the most identifiable brands associated with weaning. This bright and simple book is a great guide for parents embarking on their weaning adventure as it contains 130 simple recipes and ingredient combinations from the very first stage to when your baby reaches one year old.

There are creative ideas for meals whether you choose the purée or finger food route alongside reassuring tips from nutritionists and other mums and dads.

3. Best weaning book for undecided parents: Weaning Made Easy by Dr Rana Conway

Weaning Made Easy

Price: £8.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“Weaning Made Easy by Rana Conway is very accessible and has example plans. It explains both the BLW [baby-led weaning] and traditional purée routes and avoids any kind of zealous commitment to either. I found it very helpful.” Ihaveoflate

Dr Rana Conway’s Weaning Made Easy is the ideal book for parents who haven’t decided whether to do spoon-feeding or baby-led weaning.

Conway has decades of experience as a nutritionist and gives a balanced, unbiased view of both methods of weaning - and tips for how to combine them if you choose. She clearly lays out the pros and cons of both methods tol allow you to make the decision on what will best suit you and your family. 

The book details foods to include and avoid during your weaning journey. It also has five-day meal plans and recipes for each weaning stage.

4. Best weaning book for baby-led weaning: Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett

Baby-led Weaning book

Price: From £9.49 | Buy now from Amazon

“Gill Rapley Baby Led Weaning is brilliant. It’s all I needed although I did use a recipe app too.” Megan2018

This is a great guide for parents who have already decided that baby-led weaning is the route for them. Gill Rapley is a former health visitor and baby-led weaning advocate and her book gives practical tips on how to safely give your baby finger food, right from day one.

It provides hints and support in how to create an independent and confident eater as they explore textures and flavours, and includes case studies, anecdotes and experiences of real-life parents as well as advice on allergens.

5. Best weaning book for easy recipes: What Mummy Makes by Rebecca Wilson

What Mummy Makes book

Price From £5.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“The What Mummy Makes BLW weaning recipes have been amazing for us. We do them for every family meal - so easy, balanced and delicious. She has an active Facebook and Instagram page too.” Ginfilledcats

Rebecca Wilson is the mum behind a hugely successful Instagram account which shows her followers how to create delicious, fuss-free meals for the whole family.

In her book What Mummy Makes, Wilson shares the recipes she used when weaning her daughter. It focuses on simple, easy-to-adapt methods to make weaning as easy and enjoyable as possible for parents and babies, and her recipes use time-saving ingredients such as pre-chopped vegetables and ready-to-roll pastry.

More experienced cooks may find the recipes a bit basic, but they are a great starting point for families ready to start introducing their baby to solids.

6. Best weaning book from a nutritionist: How to Wean Your Baby by Charlotte Stirling-Reed

How to Wean Your Baby

Price: From £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“Charlotte Stirling-Reed How to Wean Your Baby: The Step-by-Step Plan to Help Your Baby Love Their Broccoli as Much as Their Cake. This book is really good and provides a plan for weaning your baby - highly recommend.” Rosiewalker

Charlotte Stirling-Reed is another nutritionist who has worked with families and knows what questions parents will have when their baby is ready for solids.

This book has won praise from well-known names such as Joe Wicks, Jools Oliver and Ella Mills (Deliciously Ella). It contains all of the valuable information Stirling-Reed has shared on her blog and Instagram account, plus the personal experiences she has had with her own children.

Easy-to-cook recipes are accompanied by shopping lists and a first-30-days-of-weaning meal plan, and the book is also very informative when it comes to allergen awareness.

7. Best weaning book for baby-led weaning and spoon-feeding: Wean in 15 by Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks wean in 15

Price: £8.49 | Buy now from Amazon

“I found Joe Wicks’ Wean in 15 excellent. The recipes are delicious and fairly easy. My 18-month old twins love the book - they pull it off the shelf and open it at a page with a picture of oatcakes (which I make regularly) to indicate they want some!” user1471604848

The dad-of-two who had the nation jumping and sweating every day of the first coronavirus lockdown has also found time to write his own book about weaning. In Wean in 15, Joe Wicks shares 100 recipes he has developed after experimenting in his family’s kitchen. Mixing both purées and finger food creations, this book is an accessible way of learning how to introduce solids.

The name of the book comes after Wicks’ success with his Lean in 15 programme and his Body Coach brand. The idea is that all of the recipes can be completed in 15 minutes. However, according to parents, the reality is that in some cases they can be a bit more complicated than they first appear.

8. Best weaning book for feeding the whole family: Young Gums: Baby Food with Attitude: A Modern Mama’s Guide to Happy, Healthy Weaning by Beth Bentley

Young Gums book

Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“We used this loads and loads - it's really good.” harper30

Beth Bentley is an award-winning food blogger and her passion for food shines in this book. With a focus on nutritional value and flavour, with recipes that will satisfy the whole family, this book will help your baby learn positive eating and social habits at the dinner table from an early stage.

One feature that will appeal to many time-poor, tired parents is that Bentley’s recipes can be prepared in one pan and even with one hand if you have a baby who doesn't want to be put down. Recipes include Rainbow Ragu, Sweet Potato Cookies, Baby Burrito Bowls and No-roast Chicken Pot Roast.

9. Best weaning book for parents who enjoy cooking: River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy

River Cottage: Baby and Toddler Cookbook

Price: £12.41 | Buy now from Amazon

“The River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook is also good. It's really a family recipe book but the first section is about weaning and talks about purées too.” GreenGoblin0

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage has long been a place of seasonal, sustainable and healthy food as his popular television shows have demonstrated. In this book, the wonderful ingredients used on the farm are turned into recipes that family members both young and old will enjoy.

Duffy moves away from the bland purées some weaning books recommend and instead chooses foods that your baby will continue to enjoy as they grow older. Recipes include blueberry pancakes, fishcakes, meatballs, pizza and risotto. It also includes some delicious puddings which use British ingredients such as apples and rhubarb.

10. Best celebrity weaning book: Truly Scrumptious Baby by Holly Willoughby

Truly Scrumptious Baby book

Price: £13.29 | Buy now from Amazon

Celebrities face exactly the same challenges as the rest of us when it comes to parenting, and mother-of-three Holly Willoughby is no different.

The television presenter details the tips and techniques she used when she was introducing her children to solids, and the recipes featured are those that have been a hit in her household - all of which require little preparation and won’t break the bank. Willoughby also gives tips for party food and meals the whole family can dive into.

What age is best for weaning?

The NHS recommends parents start weaning their baby at around six months of age, although some parents may choose to do it slightly earlier than this. If your baby was born prematurely, it’s best to ask your GP about when to start introducing solids. 

Breast milk or formula will still be providing most of the nutrients your baby needs, so for the first few months it’s just about introducing new flavours and textures to your child. 

Signs that your baby is ready for weaning include being able to stay in a sitting position and hold their head up, and being able to coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can put food into their mouth themselves.

What are the three stages of weaning?

You might find that some books and nutritionists split the weaning process into three stages similar to these below:

  1. Purées and soft finger foods from six months
  2. Mashed food with lumps and finger foods from seven months
  3. More variety and family meals from nine to 12 months 

What food should I start with when weaning?

Many nutritionists and weaning experts recommend starting your baby on one fruit or vegetable at a time. This will allow them to get used to a range of flavours and textures. It’s also important to not just give them sweet flavours. Try mashing up (or boiling until soft) potatoes, parsnips, carrots, broccoli, peas, apples, bananas and pears. 

Another reason it’s recommended that foods are introduced one at a time is so you can be aware of any allergic reactions. Foods that can commonly cause reactions such as fish, nuts or eggs should be given in small amounts and one at a time too. Cow’s milk can be added to foods when cooking but should not be given as a drink until your baby is over one year old. 

If you’d like to give your baby finger food, make sure you start off with soft foods which can be easily broken down in their mouths. Many babies may still not have many, or any, teeth at six months. Try boiled carrot sticks, broccoli and sweet potato, as well as bananas, avocados and peaches. Pasteurised full-fat hard cheese and toast are also good finger foods. 

How long should weaning take?

Every child is different and, while some babies may take to food straight away, others may not be interested at all for the first few weeks and months of weaning. As we’ve said above, this should not be a concern as breast or formula milk should still give them all of the nutrients they need.

Don’t panic if your child doesn’t seem to be swallowing much. The actions of picking up food, holding spoons and tasting different flavours are all part of the weaning process and will help with their development.

From seven to 10 months your child may be ready to start on three small meals a day, plus their normal milks feeds. If they are starting to eat more substantial amounts, they may start to drop their intake of milk. By 12 months, your baby will be on three meals a day, plus healthy snacks. 

What is the best weaning book? 

Many weaning books contain similar information and tips so your favourite will come down to personal preference but, overall, we think Annabel Karmel’s Weaning Made Simple is the best book on our list.

She’s been writing about weaning for over 30 years so parents can be reassured that she really knows her stuff. The easy-to-follow book covers absolutely everything from dropping milk feeds to choosing finger food or baby-led weaning and dealing with allergies. There’s a reason why she is one of the most famous names in the business!

Why you should trust us 

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