It’s Lily’s first Christmas and the excitement is really building in our house this week! A baby’s first Christmas is a really special time for the whole family. And if you’re anything like me, you will want your baby to be involved in all of the festivities and traditions, that includes the Christmas dinner!
They might not be able to manage a full dinner of turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings, but there’s no reason why they can’t eat what you eat with a few little adaptations this Christmas Day, either in the form of a tasty, festive puree or some fun finger foods.
There’s enough work involved in the kitchen on Christmas Day without having to prepare separate meals for your baby or toddler. If you’re planning on cooking the full spread this Christmas, there are plenty of elements that can be put together from your meal that your little one can enjoy. What exactly you can give your baby depends on their age and stage of development. Steamed veggies are of course used from the beginning of weaning at around six months of age, and will be suitable for any baby who is used to eating solids.
Turkey can be given to your baby from 7 months onwards, either blended with some veggies, potatoes and stock, or for babies that are already comfortable with finger foods, given chopped up into bite-sized pieces. Brown thigh meat is more nutrient dense than the breast meat, and will of course be much moister.
Potatoes have had some bad press in the past but they are versatile and full of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B, folate, potassium, magnesium and iron. Potatoes can be prepared and cooked in so many ways including mashed, roasted and baked and they make a good base for any puree. Try substituting one variety of white potato on the Christmas plate this year with a baked sweet potato with a sprinkling of cinnamon for a healthy Christmas twist! Baked white or sweet potato wedges make a (messy!) but super fun finger food for babies and toddler too.
No Christmas dinner is complete without the Brussels sprout right? They certainly pack a punch in the nutrient department, rich in Vitamin C and K, they are also a great source of protein, dietary fibre, calcium and folate. Avoid overcooking your sprouts as this releases the unpleasant smelling sulphur compounds and reduces their nutritional value. Depending on the stage of your baby, you can serve sprouts up as a finger food on their own (make sure they are halved and cooled through), or you could puree with some naturally sweet tasting veggies such as carrots, parsnips or sweet potatoes to mask the bitter taste. Brussels sprouts are well-known for causing humans (of all ages!) to have wind so if your little one has had or is currently experiencing any issues with wind, or tends to have an upset tummy, it might be a good idea to avoid the Brussels sprouts this year.
Avoid adding any stuffing, gravy or others sauces to your baby’s meal, as they can all be high in salt. If you do want to give your baby some gravy, avoid shop-bought and gravy granules and powders, which can be high in salt and are just not suitable for babies. For a healthier option, simply blend your baby’s puree with a little of their usual breast or formula milk, or a little of the cooking water from your veggies (so long as you haven’t added salt), or a little bit of the meat juices from your turkey (providing it wasn’t heavily seasoned with salt either). You could of course prepare your own home made stock, or if you can get your hands on some very low salt baby stock cubes (available from Boots), which I use when I’m batch cooking little frozen meals for Lily.
Christmas Dinner Puree Recipe:
Set aside a few pieces of boiled potatoes, steamed Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips, and a few little pieces of turkey. Add a splash of their usual breast or formula milk, cooking water or stock made from low salt stock cubes and blend to desired consistency that is suitable for your babies age or stage of development. Avoid adding gravy as you may be adding unnecessary salt to your baby’s diet.
Finger Food Options:
Simply cut up pieces of turkey, roast or baked potato, Brussels sprouts, carrot or parsnip and let them eat with their fingers. Make sure they are nice and cool for baby’s sensitive palate.
Christmas is a busy time and routine/nap times often go out the window. If you have visitors, babies may find the noise and attention overwhelming. It’s hard for babies to understand or appreciate what’s going on so if eating the Christmas dinner doesn’t quite go to plan and they are tired, cranky and there is more food going on the floor and walls than in their mouth, don’t feel guilty for giving them a snack or pouch instead and don’t be scared to take them to a quiet room to calm them down and give them (and you!) some rest.
The main thing is to embrace the craziness that comes with having kids at Christmas. And don’t forget to take a moment to sit back and reflect on the wonderful job you do every day as a parent.
Don’t sweat the small stuff because in the end, it’s all small stuff! Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Here’s to 2017!