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La Leche League International
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Book Review

by Margaret Kenda
LLLI, 2001
Softcover, 224 pages
Available from the LLLI Online Store.

Reviewed by Unity Dienes
Hollis NH USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 6, November-December 2002, pp. 228

The newest cookbook from La Leche League International, written by one of the authors of the popular Natural Baby Food Cook Book, is much more than a simple collection of recipes. Technically the beginning of weaning, the introduction of solid foods into a breastfed baby's diet can be a momentous occasion, especially for a first-time parent. What kind? How much? In what order? Is there really any reason not to use commercial baby food? What do I do when the baby is ready for something beyond bananas?

About half of WHOLE FOODS FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS provides very easy-to-understand directions for simple first foods. The ingredients are found in most kitchens, and the directions are divided into numbered steps that are reader-friendly, even to novice cooks. Measurements are given in US and metric units. Recipes range from appropriate for the very first feeding of an infant to family dishes appropriate for people over one year old. The culinary highlight is a recipe for "First Birthday Cupcakes" for that special day.

The recipes are wonderful, but what makes this book really special is the kind of background information on many different types of food that will allow parents to make informed decisions on how and what to feed their baby and toddler. Up-to-date information on safety "rules," protecting against allergies, and preventing obesity and food-related disorders are relevant for every parent, first-time or seasoned. For readers who are unconvinced about the merits of actually cooking for a baby, Kenda's exposé on the commercial baby food industry is compelling and even somewhat shocking.

La Leche League has long been a valuable resource for healthy cooking, and indeed one of its guiding concepts states that "good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible." WHOLE FOODS FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS applies that concept to the youngest member of the family so that the baby or toddler will receive nourishing foods that complement the superb nutrition of breastfeeding.

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