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Guide to Baby Food Introduction During the Holidays

November 25, 2020 3 min read

As moms and dads, we understand how first holidays with your little one(s) can bring a host of new flavors, textures, and foods to try. For many parents, it will be their baby’s first introduction to fun and diverse foods.

However, not all holiday dishes are appropriate for babies under one, especially if they're just starting solids. That's why we created our holiday-eating guide for little ones - to help parents navigate and experience the joy of introducing new foods during this festive and memorable time.

First, is your baby ready for solid foods? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents start introducing solids, such as purees, into their baby’s routines at around 4-6 months of age

However, the signs of readiness differ for each baby. Here are some signs your baby may be ready to start trying solid foods:
  • They are able to sit up without support and maintain great head control when sitting
  • Loss of the tongue-thrust reflex so that they don’t automatically push food out of their mouth
  • Follows food with their eyes and shows eagerness and interest
  • Opens their mouth wide when you offer food on a spoon

If your baby is exhibiting these signs, then they are ready for their first foods!

Holiday First Foods to Try

As you're enjoying a holiday meal with your little one, try to offer food from your own plate. Dishes like mashed sweet potatoes or the pumpkin pie filling are perfect for first-time eaters, but be sure to scrape away the crust. You can also pulse more solid holiday dishes like turkey, glazed carrots, and squash into a puree using a baby food maker like the Beaba Babycook.

If they’re older and actively biting and chewing food, other finger foods can be suitable for your little one. Thinly cut pieces of meat, baked apples, or peas are a great opportunity for trying exciting new flavors and textures. Stuffing is also on the table for tasting in smooth, non-chunky pieces. Do not give to your child stuffing if it was cooked inside the turkey.

Foods to Avoid For Babies Under One

With so many amazing new textures and foods to try, parents may be tempted to heap on a small serving of everything for their baby. But there are some foods on the table that are not suitable for babies under one.

Here are some foods to be cautious with around the holidays:
  • Gravy is a food you might want to pass on this year (or at least go a little light) as it is made up almost entirely of starch and fats.
  • Nuts, dried fruits, or other small items that can pose as a choking hazard.
  • Marshmallows, like you often find on yams, can pose a choking hazard due to the soft, sticky texture.
  • While bread is okay in small pieces, whole rolls should be avoided until your child is older than one 
  • Make sure any meat they get has no pieces of bone attached.
  • Honey has a rare risk for causing botulism if introduced in infancy. Avoid foods with honey
  • Consider the spices that each dish may have been made with and if they are appropriate for the baby to try. 

For foods that may be a bit too lumpy or thick, to lessen the choking hazard, you can always add a bit of formula or breastmilk to thin it out or put it in a blender to mash.

While it may seem like all the tasty parts of holiday dishes are off limits, there are still plenty of foods on the table your little ones can experience and enjoy for the first time. 

What To Do If Your Little One Already Has Food Allergies

When you are cooking holiday dinners at home, you will have more control over what ingredients go into the meals, and can avoid any problematic foods with ease. 

But if you are celebrating with loved ones, make sure to inform the host ahead of time if you know that your child already has food allergies, or even sensitivities. They should alert you to any foods that may include the food allergen. For any meals brought from guests or family members, be sure to always ask for ingredients. If someone is unsure, avoid those foods just to be safe. 

You can also consider bringing allergy-friendly dishes to the holiday dinner so that your child can still enjoy new diverse foods and be a part of the celebration.