Welcome to The Hunger Games: Thanksgiving Edition.
You have arrived, standing on your pedestal, in the arena. There is a single table in the very center of the dome; piled high with a Thanksgiving Feast. Your challenge is to take that gluttonous heap of fare and transform it into food your baby can safely eat.
It’s the Panem version of Chopped.
(How’s that for an analogy within an analogy! *highfive*)
Whoever wins our little Hunger Game, will enjoy a wonderful day of feasting and a nice restful evening.
Whoever loses our little Hunger Game, will be stressed about choking the entire day and up all night with a gassy, fussy baby who ate something his tiny tummy wasn’t ready for.
May the odds be ever in your favor. *kissing fingers*
The “family food concept” I describe here is easy to apply to any meal. Deconstruct the meal into it’s various components, and then give those when your baby can easily digest them, in a form that he won’t choke on. This means “slurpy liquids” for beginners, “pieces that can be swallowed whole” for intermediate eaters, and “soft dissolving finger foods” for advanced eaters.
The Main Dish
Turkey can be given to babies 7-8 months old, but you’ll need to bring your tiny Beaba to pulse it into a fine puree. Choose the fattier thigh meat and add some breastmilk or formula to help thin it to the right consistency. It should drip easily from the spoon.
For babies older than 10 months, finely dice the food into teeny-tiny swallow-whole pieces. Also choose the fattier thigh pieces rather than the dry breast pieces. They are easier to gum.
Gravy is pretty much just starch and fat. Not Good Eats for baby. Avoid.
Cranberries are very acidic, so it’s not recommended you give it to your baby until after 9 months. For older babies, mix in a little applesauce to cut the acid and provide some sweetness. It’s a powerful Vitamin A food!
The Side Dishes
Babies can enjoy pureed/mashed cooked beans at 7 months. The casserole version includes a cream dairy base (so avoid if there is a dairy problem) and diced mushrooms, which your baby will need to be 9 months to properly digest.
For babies younger than 9-months simply rinse off the cream and mushrooms before going all Beaba on it. The fried onions on the casserole should be taken off and given to Dad.
You can give your baby smashed or pureed glazed carrots at 7 months.
Steamed or Creamed Corn
Corn tends to cause digestive problems for babies under 18 months. It’s also a choking hazard. Avoid.
There are a thousand different recipes for stuffing, so my help here is limited. Since you’re most likely not going to puree the stuffing, I recommend holding it back until your infant is older than 10 months. Then break down the ingredients using our baby food chart to see if there are any foods your baby is still too young for.
Take a bite first and consider the texture. Are the celery pieces too large and hard? Are there whole cranberries inside? If so, skip it.
This can be given to babies at 7 months if they don’t have extra ingredients added (like bacon or cheese, etc.). Thin the potatoes out with breast milk or formula before serving to babies younger than 10 months. There should be no lumps.
Sweet potatoes are an awesome first food for babies. They have so many wonderful nutrients your baby’s brain can use. Babies as young as 4 months can have sweet potatoes (but I usually recommend waiting until 5-6 months). Again, the younger the baby, the more watery and thin the puree has to be.
When looking over a sweet potato dish, make sure there are no nuts mixed inside (scoop under any top layers of nuts or marshmallows). Nuts are best introduced after the first birthday for allergy reasons and can easily become a choking hazard.
Your baby is completely clueless about the meaning of “dessert”. This means you can leave it off your baby’s plate without feeling like he’s missing out on something. That said, some babies may notice all the pie-loving going on and demand a slice. Here’s how you can safely include him.
For babies 6-10 months, scoop out the pumpkin part and water it down with some breastmilk or formula. No crust. For babies older than 10 months, finely dice the crust and pumpkin and let her feed herself (or paint herself) with pie goodness.
The apple pie filling will need to be pureed (think applesauce pie) and the crust removed for infants younger than 10 month. For older babies, check to make sure the apples are mushy, then dice.
Helpful “Family-to-Baby” Food Tools
If you haven’t yet discovered the joy that is found in meeting Mr. Amazon Prime, do let me introduce you. One of the MANY perks is free express 1 or 2-day shipping. (I love being a prime member. It has paid for itself many times over at my house!)
- The Kidsome Food Feeder is a wonder-product. You add slices of bigger foods, and then let your baby chomp away without having to worry about choking. (My kids loved mango slices!)
- Ladies and gentlemen…the world’s most portable high chair.
- This stay-put placemat and bowl will not only catch his attention at dinnertime, it’s machine washable and comes with a collapsible bonus cup.
- The Beaba baby food processor is small enough to take anywhere. If you want to make homemade baby food (it’s beyond easy and save a fortune), the Beaba is a top-tier investment.
Taylor Family Thanksgiving Traditions
Every family has its Thanksgiving traditions.
For the Taylors, that involves reading this book out loud to the kids about the Thanksgiving story while they act out the story with Fisher Price Pilgrims and the Mayflower. (I understand Fisher Price doesn’t make the Mayflower anymore, but you could easily substitute their pirate ship. We just won’t tell the Pilgrims. *wink*)
On Thanksgiving Day we head to my sister’s (who has the bigger house) and share a feast with a few other families and some mentally disabled students from Shepherd’s College.
After the feast-o-fun, Jenny and I give a nice SEEEYA SUCKAHS! and high-tail it out of there for a special girly movie while the guys sleep through football games and the kids destroy the playroom. (Yet another reason to hold it at Jenny’s house…)
That night before bed we write out all the things we are most thankful for that year and place them into a special box not to be opened until next year.
It’s a time capsule that lets us reflect on God’s loving provision through the good and the bad in the years prior. (It’s also hilarious to see what the kids have been thankful for as toddlers!)
What Thanksgiving traditions are you most looking forward to sharing with your baby?
Meet Heather Taylor
Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007. She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others. If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.