Review: The Toddler Cookbook

Photo of the cover image for The Toddler Cookbook.

Here’s the perfect cookbook for engaging a toddler around the kitchen during the holidays.

The Toddler Cookbook by Annabel Karmel is the seventh kids’ cookbook in my library and by far the best. Did I mention I collect these things? Yeah, I’m hopeless.

This cookbook is very good at getting a toddler excited about selecting and following a recipe.

It’s intended for ages 3-and-up, although a supervised 2-year-old could manage with careful assistance. My daughter began using the book earlier this year at the age of 3.

The photography is what makes this cookbook. There are step-by-step color photos of toddlers preparing the recipes, from lining pans with muffin liners to sifting flour over a bowl.

This is a welcome departure from other books that depict disembodied hands viewed from above preparing a meal, or worse, text-only food preparation. Each page shows a different toddler cooking, shot at or near the toddler’s eye level. Nine boys. Nine girls. Perfect lighting. Perfect clothes. Perfect smiles.

Heck, they even get the parents right. Two recipes show the faces of adults assisting while the rest show only their hands, and the skin tones are consistent with those of the kids.

A lot of energy went into making a visually appealing, simplified cookbook.

Photo of my daughter scooping muffin mix to pour into a muffin pan.

Oh, sure there are words. You get the ingredient list first, and then a textual description below each photographed step.

When my daughter first opened the book, her excitement spiked. She flipped through the pages gazing at the giant-sized poised shots of carefully arranged, perfectly finished foods.

We made mini banana muffins first. Then mini lemon cheesecakes. Then little pita pizzas. We haven’t made fruit skewers yet (drinking straws are used for skewers), but I did finally buy a melon baller.

There are 19 recipes to choose from, 9 main or side dishes (3 involving meat) and 10 desserts. Does homemade lemonade count as a dessert? Okay, good.

But you know, this really isn’t about which recipes are in the book. It doesn’t even have any holiday recipes. It’s about a kid having his own cookbook, one where he can see the pictures and think, “I can make that.”

And from there, you have a launching point into fun no matter what meal you’re preparing. You soon learn that even a picky eater will try a new food when she has a hand in making it.

Photo of 2 pages from the cookbook showing the recipe for Easy Cheesy Bread Rolls.

Phot0 of 2 pages from the cookbook showing the recipe for Little Pita Pizzas.

Photo of my daughter and my mother kneading dough to make rolls.


9 Responses to “Review: The Toddler Cookbook”

  1. N. says:

    Awww, that last picture reminds me of my mom, who taught me how to knead bread when I was 5. I remember thinking 10 minutes was an awfully long time to have to knead! By the time I was in first grade, she had a KitchenAid stand mixer, and I made my own bread for my lunch box sandwiches (and 90% of my lunches all through elementary school were cheddar cheese on my homemade rye).

    Now I have my own stand mixer, but I still like to knead the dough by hand. And I’m looking forward to teaching my son!

    November 4th, 2008 at 5:29 am

  2. brandy says:

    This looks good! My daughter (almost 6) is already asking when she can start baking by herself. She can read a recipe, so that’s not an issue, but the fact that this book has so many pictures would be awesome for her. Looks like it might be good not only for toddlers with help, but also beginning solo chefs. (Mommy will still be in charge of the oven!)

    November 4th, 2008 at 5:39 am

  3. Stephanie says:

    I’m a horrible cook. Maybe I could learn on a toddler level and we’d learn together.

    November 4th, 2008 at 6:51 am

  4. JMo says:

    Awesome!! My 2-yr-old is all about “helping Mama cook”!

    November 4th, 2008 at 8:31 am

  5. Bev says:

    I recognize that cook!

    November 4th, 2008 at 11:27 am

  6. Priscilla says:

    Thanks for reviewing this. Looks like one we might have to get. We got the learning tower at your recommendation (I think you reviewed it) last year and literally use it at least twice a day.

    November 4th, 2008 at 11:47 am

  7. Crafty Mom says:

    I can’t believe how much fun my daughter has “cooking” with me. She’s only a year & a half, but can stay occupied for as long as I need if I just let her stir & fill things up & participate with/copy what I do.

    November 10th, 2008 at 7:18 am

  8. Mindy says:

    Great post! I can’t wait until my little one is old enough for this kind of stuff. :)

    November 14th, 2008 at 9:41 am

  9. Tara says:

    Thanks for reviewing this book. I love to cook but my older daughter is a reluctant helper, so maybe the photographs of other children will help draw her in. On the other hand, my two year-old already LOVES to help me cook and must sit on the counter and help while I make every meal. So of course this book will appeal to her, too.

    November 16th, 2008 at 6:32 am

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