Gobble, Gobble, Gobble! Thanksgiving is a perfect time for family to gather to share a meal, but it’s also a time where parents wonder what items baby can eat right off the table. I’ve learned some tips and tricks over the years with my children that we want to pass on to new parents that truly make the day a more enjoyable one.
To start the day off right, it’s always nice to have some very important gear to make traveling with baby, and eating with family a pleasant experience. Having a few things on hand helps make mealtime a little easier for everyone.
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Six Pieces of Gear for a Successful Thanksgiving Dinner
I always like to make sure I have six key things with me when I travel to a family member’s house for the holidays with a baby (or anytime I travel with baby).
One: A really great portable highchair or travel chair so baby has his/her own spot to enjoy Thanksgiving at the table. My favorite item is the Ciao! Baby Go-Anywhere Portable Highchair. (This is also a favorite for camping) It folds quickly like a camp chair and provides a safe place for baby to sit without taking up space at the dining table. I’m also a big fan of the small highchair seats that strap directly to a dining chair. While these take up a little more space, they provide a larger tray and are easier to clean.
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Two: Size appropriate spoons or silverware. (For babies drinking out of a cup, it’s a good idea to make sure you have one of these on hand too.) There has always been a time where we have ventured off to a family’s house only to discover that there are no spoons small enough for a baby. Green Sprouts makes a nice learning spoon set that gives parents two spoon sizes to use depending on whether the parents are feeding baby, or baby is self-feeding. Baby Bjorn also makes a great rounded spoon and fork set that allows baby to “stab” and scoop without sharp edges.
Three: A really good, easy to clean, catch everything bib! This really is the key to a no-mess holiday meal. Silicone feeding bibs are a fantastic option for feeding baby. They usually have a pocket at the bottom that catches unexpected spills. These bibs are easy to wipe off and sometimes dishwasher safe making clean-up a breeze.
Four: I’m a big fan of the EzPz Mini Mats. These all-in-one divided plate with mat are another easy clean solution for travel. The really cool feature about these awesome inventions is that they form a seal to a flat surface and are almost impossible for little hands to remove. No more plates thrown on the floor during mealtime!
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Five: A hand crank baby food mill is one of those “best kept secrets” that I was given with baby number two. This was one of the most life changing items I ever received and my go-to baby gift. The food mill is a simple unit that you crank and it purees baby food right at the table. It’s easy to grab some green beans right off your plate, grind them up and serve to baby right out of the top of the food mill.
Six: I bring my own left-over containers especially for baby food! There are so many wonderful foods at the thanksgiving table that babies can eat. Sweet potatoes, turkey (after it’s been ground), green beans, potatoes, etc. I tucked a few small glass containers in my diaper bag that I could sneak a portion or two for baby to eat later in the week. Of course I bring some containers for the adults to bring home our favorites too!
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What can baby eat off the Thanksgiving table?
Now that you’re all geared up for a successful day at the Thanksgiving Table the big question is “What can my baby eat?” Here’s a quick guide that includes some of our family’s favorites.
Turkey can be given to babies at 7-8 months old, but you’ll need to grind it up using a food mill or a small electric food processor. A great way to create the right consistency is to choose the fattier and softer thigh meat and add some breastmilk or formula to create the right consistency for baby. This mixture should drip off the end of the spoon when fed to baby.
For babies older than 10 months, finely dice the turkey into teeny-tiny pieces that can be swallowed whole. Choose the softer pieces that baby can easily gum
There are a lot of different recipes for stuffing, so it’s hard to clearly define what age group can eat this side dish. Parent’s best bet is to avoid this food or proceed with caution. First look to see if there are any solid pieces such as celery, onion, corn, or cranberries that may pose a choking hazard. If these items are present, it’s best to grind the stuffing up in your food mill and test the consistency before feeding it to baby. Babies can start to eat stuffing that has no choking hazards in it at 10 – 12 months old.
Mashed potatoes can be given to babies starting at 7 months old if they don’t contain extra ingredients like bacon (a choking hazard) and cheese (the extra dairy is harder to digest). Make sure potatoes are thoroughly pureed and thin them down slightly with breastmilk or formula.
Gravy is pretty much starch and fat. This is not the best for baby and is probably best to avoid.
Cranberries are very acidic, so it’s not recommended for babies under 9 months. For older babies, mix in a little applesauce to cut the acid and provide some sweetness. Cranberries are a rich source of vitamin A.
Here’s another great time to pull out your food mill and puree up some of the cooked green beans for babies over 7 months old. The casserole version of this side dish has a creamy diary base. Avoid this dish if baby has dairy sensitivities and wait to feed until baby is 10 – 12months old to make sure that baby can properly digest.
Mash up or puree carrots in your food mill and feed to babies who are 7 months or older.
Steamed or Creamed Corn:
Like gravy, corn is mainly a source of starch. Corn tends to cause digestive problems for babies under 18 months. Corn is also a potential choking hazard. Avoid.
This is one of my favorite side dishes for babies because they are packed with vitamins and are excellent for baby’s nutrition. Babies as young as 5-6 months old can eat this side dish. A great rule of thumb when considering consistency is to remember that the younger the baby is, the more watery the puree needs to be. This is another food we suggest to add breastmilk or formula to. If your family’s recipe calls for a brown sugar or marshmallow topping, simply scoop below the top layer and feed the delicious sweet potatoes to baby.
For babies 6-10 months old scoop out the pumpkin part and water it down with some breastmilk or formula. For babies older than 10 months finely dice the crust and pumpkin filling and let baby feed herself.
The apple filling will need to be pureed in the food mill or electric food processor and the crust removed for babies 7-10 months old. Older babies can self-feed tiny bite sized pieces that are mushy.
Coming prepared with a few extra essentials and taking the time to prep some of the table foods so they are easier for baby to eat can make Thanksgiving dinner a great time for baby to discover eating a meal with family! There are so many nutritious foods, textures and tastes for baby to try you may need to make sure baby is wearing stretchy pants.