Tuesday, July 08, 2003

What do you do with a tired toddler?

Well, we didn't throw him in the lifeboat or tie him to the yardarm. I can say that much.

He spent several hours playing at Forest River Park with his mom yesterday, and was all tuckered out when I came home before playing golf after work. We put him down to nap around 4:15 or so. He slept until 8.

Then he only got up long enough to have dinner and burn off a little steam - he was down for the night by 9:30. No midnight wake-up, either. Jane woke him up around 8:30 for his first swimming lesson.

I looked last night - there appear to be a couple more teeth on the way now. That'll make eight once they're in. We now hand him bigger pieces of food and he rips them and chews them without a problem. Fortunately, we've used up virtually all the baby food except for a small supply of applesauce that we keep in reserve for anytime he has an upset tummy. We have a few of the Graduates toddler meals in stock - the idea being that they're convenient for travel. We mainly feed him our food, torn up into manageable chunks.

A good idea that we do (I shared this with Woodge the other day) for quantity food at reasonable prices:

Glad makes mini-containers that hold 4 ounces each - 8 per package and they're microwaveable and reusable. We bought a couple of packs at about $2.50 each. Then I picked up some Ronzoni pasta - the Ditalini variety (it's a very small tube about as long as it is wide), and a couple of cans of Hunt's sauce with no salt added. The Hunt's is relatively bland so it goes over well with him. Cooking the box of pasta will produce enough to fill 16 of the containers easily, and you can add the sauce as-needed, or pre-cook it and put it in the containers with the cooked pasta. The completed dish keeps over a week if refrigerated well, and is well-suited to travel (throw it in an insulated bag with an icepak). Nuke the container for about 10-15 seconds to re-heat enough for a tiny mouth.

If you go easy on the sauce, the toddler will like it just as much, but make less of a mess. The Ditalini shape is well-suited to finger food and also small enough to serve with a baby spoon if need be.

Total cost of this meal: about $2.40 for all the software ($1 for the box of pasta, and about $.70 per can for two cans of Hunt's), and $5 for the hardware (two packs of Gladware mini-round containers) The hardware can be re-used for months before the microwave and dishwasher combine to beat it senseless (or shapeless). Making 16 meals each time, that comes out to about $.15 per meal less hardware depreciation. If you have some parmesan cheese in the fridge, sprinkle it on to bring a little more flavor to the party. As we've learned, babies don't usually like extreme flavors early on.

Gerber Graduates meals, OTOH, cost about $1.20 each typically, and don't bring much more to the table, nutritionally speaking. So make your own wherever possible, and use the savings to buy a house in Beverly!

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