I used to think the saddest thing that could happen was finding a fantastic designer dress at 75% off in one size too small for me.
Then, I had a baby. And, really, the saddest thing is when your kid is sick. There is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain or even mild discomfort. And when all the steamy baths and snot sucking (yes, that's a real thing and no, that isn't as gross as parenting gets) isn't doing anything, it's time to go to something a little stronger.
I'm obviously talking food and drink. I have a few techniques I follow to try to tempt my child when he is too sick, tired, cranky, or in pain to eat most of our usual favorites. If all else fails, we tend to go to a banana.
1. Something Classic: Chicken Soup and Stock
Chicken soup isn't just your mom's (and grandma's) favorite cure. It's comforting, it's healing, it's delicious, and it's extremely versatile. The baby can sip it even when he is teething too hard to chew on most of his favorite foods. I serve it with matzo balls, stir it into mashed potatoes, and cook carrots in it until they're soft and sweet. Plus, stock freezes beautifully and is always great to have on hand.
2. Something New: Purée-Filled Pouches
While I was pregnant, I wasn't sure how I would feel about my son eating so much puréed food I didn't make myself. Newsflash: I feel great about it!
When my baby is sick, I want to be cuddling and comforting him, not trying in vain to cook an entire four-course meal he will actually eat. Squeeze pouches are (although expensive) convenient, portable, and come in a variety of delicious flavors with real ingredients. Plus, something about sucking is much easier and more soothing to my baby when he has inflamed gums from teething. If you're looking for a more "DIY" option, you can always buy refillable pouches and put your own purées in them.
3. Something Borrowed: Oyakodon
I didn't grow up eating this Japanese homestyle dish, but it's now one of my family's favorite meals. This chicken and egg dish involves poaching chicken with sweet onions in a sweet and salty soy-mirin mixture, then whisking in scrambled eggs and serving everything over rice.
Everyone at my house loves it, especially the baby. The soft scrambled eggs are a little sweet, which of course is his favorite flavor profile. The chicken is tender enough for him to gum and the rice is sticky and soaks up the sweet onion-y broth. This reminds me of my mother's classic chicken soup, but I prefer it even more (sorry, Mom). It's a tried-and-true way to get protein and carbs into my baby when he isn't up to scarfing down his usual quesadilla.
Get the recipe: Oyakodon from Serious Eats
4. Something (Out of the) Blue: Anything He Feels Like
Really. Smoked salmon? You got it! Banana bread? As much as your grubby little hands can hold. Really, you want to read "The Little Blue Truck" again? Okay, dude. Anything goes when the kid is hacking up green mucus and has had to sit through hourly snot sucking sessions. I am all for having kids try new foods and textures, but when mine is sick, the only rule is, "Feel better. Please feel better. Oh, and please sleep through the night."
What do you feed your baby when he or she is sick? Let us know in the comments!