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Dinner: After the Babies are Asleep

By • June 14, 2012 • 5 Comments

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According to my memories, family dinner was somewhat of a stronghold in my house, anchoring our family’s long days to one recognizable hour when we all gathered around the table. Also according to my memories, nothing happened to me before the age of five.

Since I can’t remember back that far, and I have no kids of my own as a point of reference, I’ll leave the advice to the experts on how to deal with dinners before the kids are old enough to join in. Jenny Rosenstrach’s new cookbook, Dinner: a Love Story, has a section full of meals for new (or practiced) parents to young ones under 5. (She doesn’t recommend attempting a sit down until all spawn are at least 3.)

She outlines simple recipes, like this Apricot-Mustard Baked Chicken, that come together easily, and have cooking steps built in that allow for bedtime stories. (Hands off baking, for example.) And that, it seems, is a perfect combination. Or so I’m told.


What’s for Dinner: Apricot-Mustard Baked Chicken
from DailyCandy

Jump to Comments (5)

Comments (5)

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over 2 years ago jeneric

I applaud Jenny Rosenstrach's advice! We've been eating as a family many years now, but when my children were small, they always ate earlier. Small children need a lot of sleep and keeping them up until dinner was ready never seemed sensible. And since taking care of babies is so consuming, I always welcomed the opportunity to spend time with my husband alone, when we could concentrate on each other. My kids have grown up to be adventurous, healthy eaters whose manners are routinely remarked on when we got to restaurants. There's time enough for family dinners in the years ahead.

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I suppose it depends entirely on the circumstances. My boys were phenomenal nappers -- they played hard all morning and slept hard for a good part of the afternoon, after which they had a generous snack, and then were delightful all evening. If they had gone to bed early, we would have had too little time to enjoy them. You just have to do what works. That time in the evenings, conversing (yes, even with toddlers, and perhaps more importantly, allowing them to listen to adult conversation) and reading stories (good stuff, that interested us, from classics with few illustrations) was simply wonderful, for all concerned. ;o)

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I strongly disagree with the notion that one must wait until the youngest is three to have sit-down dinners. It wasn't that way in the house in which I grew up (six kids . . . if my mother had followed that rule we would not have had a sit down meal until I was 12!) and it certainly wasn't that way in my own house, with two boys born 18 months apart. We bought sturdy wooden high chairs from a restaurant supply store, and they joined us at the table, for meals eating what we wanted to eat, from the day they each could sit up unassisted in those chairs. The only concession I made was to allow the use of paper napkins instead of cloth ones, until my older son was about 5. Really, who is in charge, anyway? It's all about setting the tone, setting expectations, and following through. ;o) P.S. My sons, now in college, became from a very young age excellent conversationalists with impeccable manners and the most gracious hosts you will ever meet.

Buddhacat

over 2 years ago SKK

Agree with AJ. My only daughter joined us as AJ's two sons did, and today she is a highly accomplished cook and hostess in her own right. She was with me at the stove from the time she could stand alone on her special bench watching, tasting and as she grew older helping. Other parents worried about their children insisting on McDonald's, Macaroni and Cheese from boxes and other less than nutritious meals for dinner, and my daughter wouldn't touch that stuff because she found it tasteless. An experience with good food supersedes false advertising.

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over 2 years ago gmg2011

My husband and I also eat dinner with our two children (currently nearly 5 and 20 months) as often as possible, typically 3-4 times a week. They eat more, and more of the foods that I want them to eat when they are seated with us at the dining room table with cloth napkins. They also participate in meal preparation to the degree each is able. My 5 year-old son is quite the curious and handy sous chef. Only work schedules and the essential date night out prevent us from doing this 6 or even 7 nights a week!