Holiday Foods Babies Can Eat Too
Dressing is a holiday favorite that even baby can enjoy. Finely chop the veggies and cook until very tender. To keep the dressing moist and easier for baby to eat, add a little extra broth to the mixture before cooking. For smaller babies, smash the mixture with a fork before serving or give a quick pulse in the food processor and thin with breast milk or formula. Older babies can handle small, soft bites that they can grab or scoop with a spoon. Scoop from the inner part of the casserole to get the soft portions, avoiding the crustier top and sides, which may be hard for baby to chew. For food safety's sake, skip the dressing (or stuffing) for baby if it's cooked inside the turkey cavity. Harmful bacteria such as salmonella can reside there and transfer to the dressing if not cooked to a proper internal temperature.
Baked in a casserole or roasted in the oven, sweet potatoes are a nutritious holiday food choice for your baby. Loaded with vitamin A and an earthy sweetness, even the pickiest babies will love this one. For the littlest diners, serve it peeled, well cooked and mashed. Older babies can enjoy them mashed or cooked soft and cut into small pieces for a fun finger food. For babies serve sweet potatoes sans nuts, and if the dish is loaded with sugar or marshmallows, skip it or make an extra serving without the added sweeteners.
Turkey is a great source of protein and iron, nutrients that growing babies need. Finely chop and mix with breast milk or formula or for older babies. Also consider chopping or blending with mashed or roasted sweet potatoes or even a little unsweetened applesauce. Turkey makes a great finger food too, so try cutting up small pieces for your older baby to pick up and enjoy as is.
Cranberries are a good source of Vitamin C and antioxidants, but because of their tartness they are often cooked with lots of sugar, which baby doesn't need. Cranberries can also be very acidic and may not be well-tolerated for babies younger than eight months old. Instead of piling them onto the older babies' plate, use them as a way to accent a dish. Puree a small amount with turkey or chop finely and mix into stuffing. Or cook a separate batch sans sugar then puree, adding a little cinnamon or roasted apple or applesauce.
Roasted winter squash, such as butternut and acorn, often shows up on the holiday table, and babies can benefit from the Vitamin A and potassium it provides. It can be served mashed and thinned with breast milk or formula for those 6 months and older, or it can be roasted, peeled and pureed with broth to turn it into a delicious soup that can be enjoyed in a cup or scooped with a spoon for older babies.
Green Bean Casserole
This classic holiday favorite is typically made with canned green beans, condensed mushroom soup and that familiar crunchy onion topping. While delicious, it can be a bit salty and texturally unappealing to the littlest diners. Instead use a slotted spoon (which will help remove some of the salty soup) to take a scoop of green beans, sans the topping, and smash with a fork to give to baby. If you're worried about salt, just give the beans a quick rinse before smashing. Older babies can handle picking up the cut green beans and feeding themselves. It might get messy, but it's definitely fun.
Carrots are a real crowd-pleaser, especially when it comes to baby. Roasted carrots are delicious. Just be sure to cook them until they are tender enough for smashing and cut small enough for the older baby to pick up and feed himself. Carrots are also a great addition to other holiday foods. They can be chopped and added to cut-up turkey or added to other vegetables like squash and onions and pureed into soup.
Macaroni and Cheese
Serving baby macaroni and cheese can be a great way for her to enjoy whole grains and dairy, but is a more appropriate dish for the older baby, around 8-10 months. At this stage, many babies are able pick up small noodles or soft casserole "bites" to feed themselves. If making the dish yourself, consider preparing a separate, salt-free batch for your little one and seasoning instead with herbs like oregano and spices such as paprika or garlic powder.
Pumpkin is a nutritious winter squash that contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium. Although pumpkin pies are made with pumpkin, most also contain sugar, an ingredient baby doesn't need. Instead, try blending pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) with some breast milk or formula along with cinnamon and nutmeg for babies 6 months and older. For older babies, mix pumpkin puree with warm cereal or stir into yogurt along with cinnamon or ground ginger. Or use as "dip" for other holiday goodies like roasted turkey.