When you bring your newborn home for the first time, there are usually a few days when you don’t have to worry about cooking. But, in the back of your mind, you may be wondering where to put the baby while cooking when you head back to the kitchen.
In the beginning, perhaps your friends or family have spoilt you with some casseroles or other pre-cooked meals. Your partner may even be home from work for a few days. But, at some point, your partner goes back to work and the family stops bringing over casseroles.
Eventually, you have to get back in the kitchen and start cooking again. And my article today is to give you some great tips and ideas for where to put your baby while you’re cooking PLUS how to keep them entertained.
Where Should I Put my Baby While Cooking?
Based on my own experiences as a father and additional research, I can easily say there are a number of options available for putting your baby somewhere safe while you cook your delicious meal. Some popular options include baby wearing and putting bigger babies in high chairs. There are even nifty playpens and activity tables that can help you keep your baby safe!
Babywearing worked for me quite well, or also the playpen solution which stood in the kitchen within arm’s reach from me.
How to Manage Cooking with a Baby
Before I tell you about some great solutions to make cooking with a baby easier, let me start by giving you some general tips on how to manage cooking with a baby in the house.
- Arrange in advance: If possible, arrange with a close friend to cook you a couple of meals every day for the first two weeks. Buy ingredients in advance.
- Ditch the masterchef ideas: Now is not the time to cook grandiose four-course meals with all the bells and whistles. Simple is your friend here. It’s okay to repeat meals or simplify processes.
- Prioritize the main meal: The rule of thumb here is that cooking comes before cleaning. Early preparation will avoid rushing around later. A tip I’ve found useful is, that babies are usually calmer during the mornings so it’s the perfect time to get dinner cooked. At least that way you know no matter what chaos the day throws your way, at least the cooking is done!
- Bring the baby into the kitchen: If you leave the baby in the bedroom, you’re going to tire yourself out by running from the kitchen to the room every time the baby fusses. By taking the baby to the kitchen, you’ll be able to talk, pull faces, entertain and keep an eye on the baby all at once. A high position seating can be convenient until you should consider stopping the usage of a high chair.
- Draw up a menu and shopping list: Do your whole week’s shopping on one day. Don’t put yourself in the position where you have to go to the shops every day and then cook. The point here is to not wear yourself out right off the bat. Drawing up a simple menu for the week will simplify the process.
- Use your kitchen timer: Your kitchen timer doesn’t have to be used only for baking. Use your timer to remind you of times to check or do certain things. Don’t forget you could be distracted by the baby and not realize your veggies may be burning! The goal here is to keep things simpler.
How to Entertain Baby While Cooking
If you’re thinking about trying to chop vegetables while you’re holding your baby, let me tell you upfront, that’s not going to work. No matter the age, the baby is not going to sit quietly in the corner and wait for you to finish cooking. So, the question here is how to entertain your baby while cooking.
I can honestly tell you that an entertained baby is less likely to fuss and cry. And a relaxed baby equals a relaxed parent. Fortunately, there are a couple of handy options to entertain your baby. Let me share a few of them with you.
If your baby is sitting, and no longer needs the baby carrier, your options increase. By using a Cosco Simple Fold High Chair, your baby can sit comfortably, out of harm’s way, and still see you. Give them a few spoons or small toys to play with. I’ve written a review of this product giving you additional information about this simple fold high chair.
Another option for sitting babies is the Baby Playpen Kids Activity Center where bigger babies and toddlers can sit and play with their toys or with pots and spoons. The baccow Musical Activity Table Center is also a great way for the baby to keep busy. Different noises and activities keep the baby entertained.
Older babies will also enjoy the Baby Trend Activity Walker which allows the baby to scurry around the kitchen or keep themselves busy with a Sassy Stack of Circles Stacking Ring.
Some other simple options can include the following:
- If your baby can sit, give them a wooden spoon and pot to bang on.
- If your baby is in the high chair, let them play with spoons and plastic cups.
- Give your baby plastic bowls and lids to play with.
- Your baby can sit in the playpen and play with toys.
- Make a rattle with a small plastic bottle and some macaroni or any other dry, but noisy food item.
- If your baby is eating, you can prepare a few soft snacks as well.
- Let your baby taste cold and nonspicy sauces and also allow them to dip their fingers into things like water or milk.
How About Wearing Baby While Cooking?
When it comes to finding a solution for newborns, wearing a baby while cooking is definitely the most practical! Babywearing is nothing new. In fact, some cultures have been using this century-old practice to get things done while looking after babies at the same time.
I’ve heard many friends and colleagues sing their praises for the Baby Wrap Ergo Carrier Sling. This nifty baby carrier allows you to hold the baby in the front if you’re making something simple like sandwiches or salad. And you can easily switch the baby to rest against your back when you’re working over the stove or the oven.
To me this seems to be a very effective solution, especially for newborns who can’t sit in chairs. Let’s face it, newborns like to feel their mommies or daddies against their bodies. So, this is the perfect bonding experience for both of you!
I’ve found a few tips that will help you with baby-wearing while you’re cooking, especially if this is your first rodeo.
Here they are:
- Bending down: Don’t bend down further than your waist with the baby on your back. Instead, squat down and bend your knees.
- Front position: Carrying a baby in front is better for simple tasks like making sandwiches and salads.
- Back positions: If you’re going to work over the stove, the back position is better. You don’t want your baby near any steam or heat radiating from the stove.
- Safety: If your baby is a little older than a newborn, be careful of grabbing hands and kicking feet. Ensure hands and feet are safely tucked in the sling and can’t accidentally reach out to explore new things.
Is it Safe to Cook with a Baby in the Kitchen?
While it’s true the kitchen can be a very dangerous place, there is no real reason to keep your baby out of the kitchen. As long as you keep the baby safe and away from potential harm, it’ll be fine. Actually, it will be great because you can keep an eye on the baby. You can talk, play and interact all while getting dinner done.
Because I know how much you already have on your mind, here’s a list of things you might not have thought about to keep your baby safe in the kitchen:
- Ensure any sharp object is out of reach and packed away.
- Install locks on low cupboards, especially where cleaning or other chemicals are kept.
- Clear a space furthest away from the stove where you can put a playpen, activity table or high chair. If the baby sees you the whole time, they’re less likely to fuss too much.
- Use back burners if you have walking toddlers. Also, turn the pot handles away from reach.
- Cook with a window or door open so there’s an escape for steam and hot air.
Walk through your kitchen and identify potential hazards. Then follow the tips in this handy tutorial to baby-proof your cupboards and kitchen.
As you can see, there are many ways to entertain your baby while cooking. It can be anything from banging on pots to stacking rings in the playpen. The trick here is to include your baby in the kitchen in a safe and fun way! Note that some of these tricks apply also to what you can do when you need to leave your baby when you go to the toilet.