How to balance cooking when you have a baby around
I am new to motherhood - got the gig in January 2020, and so far it rocks. I totally understand that juggling freshly cooked meals and a baby may seem completely impossible, but don't give up hope! The following tips and tools have enabled me to strike a balance with the little one, and will hopefully set you up for success too.
I've read that you should always narrate what you're doing when you're with your baby, so I've made a habit of talking him through the entire process of what I am doing in the kitchen. I even use the ingredients and cooking tools as if they are flash cards. Thanks to this very focused education, I wouldn't be surprised if Aaron's first words are "sear" or "roast" someday soon! One day he will be able to start being my little helper in the kitchen, but this has been a great way to expose him to new words and engage him. I am also secretly hoping he grows up to be a Michelin-starred chef - fingers and toes crossed!
I also like to do as much as I can while I have my hands free - such as washing and chopping vegetables as soon as I get them home from the grocery store. It makes things much easier to go right into a skillet, Dutch oven, or a baking sheet when I'm ready to start cooking!
My last tip before I get into items I've used is to prepare dishes in advance so that when you're ready, you can just pop the food into the oven while you do your bedtime routine.
Here are a few items I have bought and used in the kitchen during all the different phases of our first year:
Baby carrier - oh man, this was amazing until Aaron got too big, and I had to retire it for the sake of my back. I used this from 0-6 months*.
Activity center - we used this to keep him occupied from 5-8 months*.
Walker - this is what I am using now since he's constantly on the go! It makes for a fun cooking experience trying to dodge him as he zooms around.
*Note that every baby is a little bit different. I will say, Aaron is quite a big baby, so he grew out of things faster than average.