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cooking with a newborn

I'm expecting a baby in June (our first). I'm really not into cooking, freezing, and defrosting stuff, and I'm not big on take-out either. Usually in season I go to the farmers market every week and buy fresh ingredients and cook them -- we will cook maybe 3-4 nights in a week and go out the other nights. We really enjoy both cooking and going out to eat, so we do both a lot!

Well, I'm sure everything will change once we have the baby. I'll have at least 4 months maternity leave, all coming at the very best time of year for cooking from the farmer's market (which is pretty much the kind of cooking I enjoy). I'm trying to gauge, among other things, whether to sign up for a CSA, and I just have no idea how much time and inclination I'll have to cook. I'm really interested in hearing from others who've been through this -- did you cook with a new baby in the house? How long did it take before you were back in the kitchen?

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  1. congratulations! just a few ideas: i'd skip the csa share this season. if you can do farmers' market twice a week you'll have fresh stuff on hand and a handle on when you want to cook. find a spot for baby out of the line of fire and think in terms of stuff that won't be ruined if you have to turn off the flame under it and leave it for a bit.

    if you're breastfeeding, baby gets a vote on what you eat. my second was anti broccoli as well as potato. you might also think of doing the prep and having your partner do the cooking. your mileage will vary but i recall being back to wanting to be in the kitchen somewhere around 6 weeks after baby.

    if you don't already have one think about a rice cooker. hands free and easy. and have a couple of agreed-upon fallback dinners for when a day doesn't go according to plan (at least not your plan ;-)).

    7 Replies
    1. re: appycamper

      I ate everything while breastfeeding and my babies never had a problem with it...they are good eaters now as teenagers. So I just want to offer a different viewpoint than that other poster....eat what you want!!!!!

      1. re: momskitchen

        since you replied to me i'll do you the courtesy of replying to you. as "that other poster" i wasn't suggesting that westminstress avoid eating anything, just mentioning that flavors from various foods make it into breast milk and babies being the individuals they are sometimes take exception to a particular item.

        to expand on the idea i had a lovely camembert this week that came from milk from cows that had obviously enjoyed spring onions. i thought it was lovely but can't imagine many babies would like that particular flavor, any more than i like it showing up in ice cream rather than cheese. if your babies didn't voice dislikes you were blessed.

        1. re: appycamper

          I'm glad that you weren't suggesting that the new mom avoid eating anything..babies are breast fed all over the world and they do just fine with flavors, including spring onions! It's not something that should be worried about....eat whatever you want, new mom! It will be totally fine...

          1. re: momskitchen

            With mine, eating certain foods made my breastfed babies painfully gassy and miserable -- so yes, it does happen, and yes, it's good advice for mom to keep an eye on HER intake so as to not cause discomfort for her wee one...and extra guilt for her.

      2. re: appycamper

        I had the same issue w/ the breastfeeding - My DS would not tolerate coffee (of all things when I had to return to work at five weeks) and oreos (Of all things - I CAN'T EAT OREOS?!?) and cabbage. . . .

        Soup was quick and easy and I know the OP doesn't like to freeze but that's an easy freeze-able meal.

        1. re: JerryMe

          The most common thing for people to cut out while breastfeeding are the common allergic food. If your baby is very colicky, have some reflux, etc, it's worth trying to eliminate things like dairy, gluten from your diet. It takes a few weeks to notice the difference. Otherwise, you can just eat like you always do. Mine also have problems with coffee when she was very little. The caffine makes her noticeably hyper. I switched to decaff and it's fine.

          As for cooking, I get my OH to do it as evening is usually cluster feeding time if you are breastfeeding. I surpervised my OH doing the chopping, frying etc. I think it's a good idea to have a look at what you normally cook that's fairly easy, and that you are confident you can get your OH to do it. We have a month of paternity leave, so it was very nice that OH can stay home for the whole time, concentrating looking after me. I think it's around 3 months before I started cooking again.

          I have groceries delievered while I was on maternity. Going out to shop is an absolute nightmare with a newborn. So I think a CSA might be a good idea, as long as you aren't going to end up with a lot of challenging vegetables.

          1. re: lilham

            Yeah, I actually had to go on a dairy free diet for quite a while, which made me miserable since I pretty much consider cheese to be its own food group. In retrospect, I'm not sure the specialized diet was necessary or made any difference at all, but my son had some reflux and various feeding issues, so we were trying to do everything possible. And it's really hard to think rationally when you're not getting proper sleep.

      3. It took me about a month to really get back into the swing of things. I love to cook and once we had established a sleeping routine and I was feeling a little more rested I was quite happy to get back to cooking. In most cases you can count on a couple of hours in the afternoon when the baby is sleeping. This was when I would do my prep so dinner would come together easily later on.
        It will depend on your baby. Some (like my second) always want to be held/with you. This can make it difficult to cook when they are awake. Others will happily sit in a bouncy chair, lie on a soft blanket or whatever and watch the world around them.
        Try to keep a couple of meals in your freezer because there will be days when you don't want to/can't cook and don't feel like going out either.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cheesymama

          I agree with cheesymama about every baby is different. My 1 year old wasn't happy in a bouncy chair at all when she was a newborn. I have to carry her in a sling. And she cried whenever I put her down. All I could manage is make a cup of tea and walk around the house! That's why I wasn't really able to cook until 3 months, when she's more settled and happy to lie in the cot for sleeps. But if you have a easy baby that's happy to sit in a bouncy chiar watching you, then you could get back into your normal routine much quicker.

        2. Well, of course, this will be an individual situation...will you have any help those first few weeks? Mother or MIL perhaps helping out? We lived in Denver when our first son was born, far away from Del and NJ, where our families were. Neither grandmother could come out to help. On the plus side, I was just a kid at 22 and bounced back pretty quickly into the kitchen. Spouse did not cook at all, so I HAD to get in there and cook, that's all there was to it. He was born in July and when the weather is warm, in general, I think people eat less. So, I wasn't making big heavy meals. I do remember using my crockpot, too. We definitely were not into restaurant-eating in those early days and were very very frugal, so anything I made, I remember spouse being very thankful for. A new baby is a big adjustment, no doubt about it...you'll be fine...you might just have to lower your expectations those first few months. Maybe come up with a list of easily thrown together meals which might be how you normally eat in June and July....? Dishes that require minimal prep and just a few ingredients, perhaps.

          1. I was home on day 3 (after a c-section), and in the kitchen on day 4 (dinner only). Simple stuff, but tasty. This was the ONLY thing I did, other than take care of the little one; husband did everything else around the house.

            1. Two lived in the swing while I cooked, happy as could be. Third insisted on being held, thank goodness for slings and wraps! Keep it simple and easy, not sleeping all night makes it easy to mess up stuff and shortens your energy levels. I didn't cook for the first couple of weeks but was definitely back in the kitchen after a month.

              1 Reply
              1. re: allyall

                +1 on the slings and wraps.

                Westminstress, I know you said you aren't into premaking and defrosting meals, but what about freezing parts of meals? Brown and white rice, caramelized onions (and raw, pre-chopped or sliced onions), roasted garlic, mire poix, unbaked biscuits -- all those things freeze really well and can make the difference between feeling like you can get a meal together, and going out to dinner *again*. All the fiddly prep work is what kills me many nights! If you do that in advance I think you'll find it really helpful.