My husband and I love to cook and share meals. So I was excited when our first baby, Eli, was old enough to start eating "real food." I envisioned making him healthy meals from scratch and enjoying them peacefully as a family of three.
Like many things related to parenting, it didn't go as planned. Most of our meals in those early years were chaotic and very, very messy. My husband, Sam, worked evenings back then, so I was often on my own for dinners with Eli, who is now 11. Sometimes he hungrily devoured, and then spit up, entire bowls of rice cereal — while I ate crackers. Other times, he fed himself fistfuls of yogurt by smashing his chubby fist into the bowl and then rubbing it on his face, from forehead to chin. I wasn't sure he'd ever successfully get food into his own mouth.
But it got better. The first time we really enjoyed a meal as a family was at an unexpected place: a TGI Fridays somewhere between Binghamton, N.Y., and Burlington, where we stopped on the way home from a visit with grandparents. My chicken salad and Sam's cheeseburger were nothing special, but we were happy to be eating something that someone else had prepared and we wouldn't have to clean up.
For his part, Eli, who was about 16 months old at the time, loved the wooden restaurant high chair and the chance to practice "chatting" with our server. He probably scattered more spaghetti around the table than he actually ate, but he managed to get most of a meatball into his mouth on his own.
Over the years we've learned that flexibility and a sense of humor are key to success when it comes to feeding very young kids. With that in mind, here's a healthy, tasty and adaptable meal you can make for little ones. You'll probably want to dig in, too. Enjoy — and don't worry about what ends up on the floor.
Makes 3-4 kid-size servings
Pro tip: Add some grated cheese and salsa to your own baked eggs.
(Makes 3 kid-size servings)
Pro tip: If you are sharing this lunch, I recommend adding a little Sriracha and some chopped cilantro to your plate.
Recently, I've started making food for babies as young as 4 months old at Burlington Children's Space. Here's what I've learned:
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