How to eat with a baby (0-6 months)
This is not baby-related advice. I haven’t read any books and am from the school of “do what you want and own it” (with the obvious glaring health and safety exceptions). However it is some observations on how I ate and survived the first six months from a food perspective (and hence survived at all). If you have no interest in babies and aren’t anywhere near that stage in your life, look away. Although, interestingly,, if you substitute the word “hangover” for baby, the advice is equally - if not more - applicable.
FIND YOUR COFFEE GIVER – a local coffee shop that needs to be logistically easy to get into with a buggy/dog/bad sense of spatial awareness. They need to be understanding if you come with screaming child in tow, are wearing your pyjamas, or take five minutes to work out your order. You will become a loyal customer. I have a local coffee place that I can literally sleepwalk to in any state of attire, stick my head round the door leaving baby and dog outside, they know what I want and deliver it promptly (no shits given about latte art) and with a smile.
DON’T STOP GOING TO EAT OUT – leaving the house seems on par with a single-handed polar crossing, but after a few weeks there are windows where the baby does sleep and it might just be possible. The rule of thumb is to head to any entry level, local Mediterranean restaurant – Greeks, Italians, Turks all love babies and we faultlessly welcoming (trendoid Scandis? Not so much), plus mezze can definitely be eaten one-handed. Head there when they open at 6, and you will be done and dusted by the time anyone else gets there (parenthood leads to superhuman speeds of food consumption). If it all goes wrong, just bail. Make the most of it in the early months when the baby is still portable, won’t insist on joining in, and, if you stick them in a sling, people might not even notice they are there.
WORK OUT YOUR ONE HANDED SNACK – the rules are it needs to be possible to prepare this with one hand, from no more than three non-perishable corner shop-available ingredients, and it needs to have at least some nutritional value (three different varieties of crisps don’t count. Although well done). For moments when you still in pyjamas and hungry enough to consider eating the baby. Mine is an oatcake slathered with wholenut peanut butter and topped with sriracha (yes, I live in N16 where sriracha is actually available in corner shops nowordofalie). Work it out pre-baby and stock up on an industrial scale.
MAKE DELIVEROO/UBEREATS YOUR FRIEND – All the parenting advice on websites, in emails and passed down to you suggest that you should batch cook and there is a received wisdom that you should spend weeks 36-40 of pregnancy manically cooking vat upon vat of chilli, lasagnes the size of football field and more stockpot type dishes than you can fill your freezer with. Don’t. You won’t fancy it, will probably have forgotten to label it, and it will be more effort than you can muster to cook the rice/potatoes/whatever to go with. Accept that in the first few weeks that urban foraging via Deliveroo will be the solution. Nope, it’s not the healthiest and, yes, it will cost you a small fortune but think of all the money you are saving on not going out and get over the guilt.
GET PEOPLE TO BRING YOU FOOD – Everyone offers to come round when you have had a baby. Lovely in theory but in practice the house is a tip, you have no milk or biscuits or place for anyone to sit, and the last thing you want to do is make tea. Unfortunately Deliveroo don’t yet bring tea and cakes to your house. When they ask if they can bring anything, the answer is a resounding yes. I read somewhere once that you should give a bereaved person a tray of brownies and a big loaf of sourdough and the same applies here. Sugar and chocolate for comfort (and brownies keep on giving no matter how old and stale they become) and the bread for toast as even the most distracted or traumatized person can do toast and likely has something to go on it. Going forward there’s no more flowers – only flour (groan) – and I will be visiting all new mums armed with sourdough and brownies.
So there you go. If you have or are about to have a baby, there might be something you can take from that. If you have a hangover, I will simplify further: coffee; kebab; snacks; takeaway; chocolate. Survival.