I used to look at pretty jars of baby food in the store and think “I can’t wait to start feeding this stuff to my child”. Then, as I experienced difficulties getting pregnant, my perspective on how I wanted to raise my child began to change. I started to think about the kind of mother I wanted to be: I decided that when I finally got pregnant, I wanted to be as personally involved in every aspect of my child’s life as possible. This great gift of motherhood I was so desperately hoping to receive ought only, it seemed to me, to be repaid by total dedication; I wanted to do everything for my child, right down to making his first foods. I wanted to give him a happy, healthy start in life by allowing him to enjoy yummy, healthy, homemade meals, lovingly prepared from the very beginning.

I was about five months pregnant with Micah when, waiting in line at the supermarket, I looked across and again saw all the “pretty” jars of baby food. With my promise to my unborn child in mind, I bought a jar, walked across the street to an organic food store and bought the same fruits and vegetables listed in the ingredients section on the back of the jar.

Amaka Benson

When I got home, I made my own baby food using the organic ingredients, then compared it to the food in the jar. The difference in taste and freshness was immense! My first time recipe was, to put it mildly, head and shoulders above the commercial competition. That was the final push – now I was determined to do more research into making my own baby food.

Already a keen cook, I started creating recipes. By the time Micah was born, I had a range of go-to meals for him and was making all of his meals myself. I began posting recipes and step-by-step photos on my online blog, makyscorner.com and I started to share recipes and weekly menu plans with family and friends. I am Nigerian and as we love spicy food it was important to me to create meals for my son that would make the transition from baby purées to family meals easier. I was adventurous with Micah’s meals; I cooked meals with bold tastes and experimented with new ingredients and spices. I loved every second of it.

Making Micah’s meals, my love for cooking and all the encouragement and positive feedback from loved ones and other mums inspired me to take the brave step of publishing a baby/toddler cookbook. In addition to extensively researching all things weaning and delving deeper into child nutrition, to ensure the information in this book is top-notch, I’ve worked with Rosie Letts, a nutritional therapist and the founder of Bump & Beyond Nutrition, a specialist nutritional consultancy that supports women through pregnancy, breastfeeding and introducing solids to their babies.

All of which has brought me, and you, here.

This book began in hope, grew in love, was perfected with extensive research and has been finalised with all the passion and zeal I know we all have for our children. It is a collection of recipes I created for my son, Micah, from his baby stage through to his toddler stage. Although he is only two years old, he is the most adventurous little foodie I know.

Toddlers can enjoy the recipes I created for his current age and kids beyond the toddler stage can enjoy the meals too. Micah now eats the same meals as the rest of my family – dare I say he eats better than his papa and me! Many of these recipes can be adapted to feed older children and even adults – if you haven’t introduced your little one to spicy food, or do not wish to do so, all you have to do is take out the portion of food for your little one before you add the spices/ingredients that are appropriate for older household members.

The recipes for the younger babies can also be enjoyed by older babies and toddlers. All you have to do is serve without puréeing. Likewise, some of the recipes for toddlers can be modified into meals that can be enjoyed by younger babies; all you have to do is purée or mash them.

I want parents and caregivers to know that you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen making yummy meals. Parents – you can work full time, run your own business, be a homemaker and with careful planning still have time to make yummy, healthy meals for your children. Micah’s Meals is more than just a cookbook; it is the quintessential guide to your baby’s important first years of feeding. I understand weaning a baby or dealing with a fussy eater can be overwhelming, so this book includes over 180 easy and nutritious recipes, nutritional information, weaning advice and weekly menu plans to make cooking healthy meals easy for every parent and caregiver.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed creating these recipes for my son and seeing him enjoy his meals has breathed new life into me. I hope his little sister, Eliana, and your kids love the meals as much as my Micah does and that your family can enjoy them for many years to come… x