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Safety First

Remember, safety is always first when it comes to homemade baby food. Always wash your hands well before preparing baby food, use proper food safety practices and make sure food is the right texture for your baby’s needs. If your little one is new to solids, you’ll need to make sure that any food, finger food or purees or mashes are not too big, thick or chunky for your child. Additionally, never give a child under the age of one year honey, cow’s milk, nuts, dried fruits (including raisins), hard holiday candy, whole grapes or marshmallows, as all of these foods pose dangers to young babies. Keep in mind that babies like flavor, so use spices and herbs as you wish, just don’t go too spicy.

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Serve Your Food to Baby

Current research notes that finger foods are actually best for babies, so the easiest Thanksgiving option is for your baby to eat what you’re eating. This is especially true because traditionally, many dishes served during Thanksgiving are very healthy and veggie packed, so awesome for babies. However, not all finger food is safe as is. Basically, you can serve your Thanksgiving meal to your baby, but you’ll need to make a few small adjustments.

  • Alternative “turkey”: If you’re having Tofurkey or another alternative meat for Thanksgiving, I’d skip giving any to your baby. Most mock meats are chewy and there’s no good way to serve it up safely to a new eater. If you’ve made a homemade veggie roast, serve it only if it’s very soft and your baby has the ability to chew properly. If you do want to serve mock turkey to your baby, there’s a recipe below about how to do so safely.
  • Mashed potatoes: Can be served as is to little ones, as long as your potatoes don’t contain skins or excessive butter or garlic cloves.
  • Stuffing: Take a small scoop of stuffing and press it flat with the back of a spoon. This helps you identify any lumps that could pose a choking hazard such as raisins, harder celery pieces, cranberries or nuts. Get the lumps out, mash the stuffing a bit, and serve smooth stuffing to your baby.
  • Cranberry sauce: Jelly cranberry sauce is perfectly safe for a baby, but whole cranberry sauce is a choking hazard. If the family is having whole berry sauce, puree it up to a nice smooth texture for your baby.
  • Yams: Yams or sweet potatoes sans marshmallows are a perfect baby Thanksgiving food. Sweet, healthy and soft, yams are almost always safe to serve as long as you don’t make fancy yams with pecans or other nuts.
  • Vegetables & fruits: Babies should clearly not have access to a raw veggie and fruit tray. You must make sure any produce served to baby is steamed soft.
  • Bread & rolls: Babies can have bread or rolls at Thanksgiving, but served soft it poses a choking hazard. Toast any bread you’re going to serve your baby. If your little one is over a year old, and you’re supervising, he can have a soft roll.
  • Pumpkin pie: Be sure to cut the crusts off and if your little one isn’t used to solids, mash up the pumpkin pie filling a bit. If your baby is older than one year, you can even put a tiny dollop of vegan whipped cream on the pie filling.
  • Beverages: Fizzy holiday drinks aren’t a healthy choice for baby. Serve a little apple juice or mild apple cider if you want your baby to have a beverage treat.

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Spiced Baked Squash & Fall Apples

Squash is hyper packed with healthy beta carotene and vitamin A, plus plenty of potassium, iron, and protein, making it a powerhouse Thanksgiving dish for babies. Adding fall apples simply sweetens the deal. To make this baby dish, cut a butternut or acorn squash plus a fresh organic apple in half then place the produce open side down in a baking pan filled with one inch of water in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for forty minutes or until very tender and soft. Scoop the squash and apple out of the skin, chop, mash or blend well (depending on your baby’s eating stage) then sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon.

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Mock Turkey and Cranberry Puree

If you want your baby to have the flavor of Thanksgiving, without the choking hazard, serve mock turkey in a puree. Place a small slice of mock turkey in the blender. Add a tablespoon of apple juice (1 TBS at a time) until the mock meat reaches a smooth consistency. Add up to about 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce to the blender and blend it into the mock meat until the baby food is the right consistency. If you like, you can add a dash of nutmeg, allspice, or cloves to taste.

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Roasted Maple Carrots & Pears

Slice a carrot into 3 inch long strips and wash, peel and slice a pear in half. Place the carrots and pear halves in a small pan or ovenproof skillet along with about 1/2 inch of water. Bake at 425 degrees until soft and tender. Once cooked, dice the pear and then drizzle both the pear and carrots with a tablespoon or 2 of organic maple syrup, toss to coat, and sprinkle on a dash of nutmeg. If you’re out of syrup, you can use a drizzle of agave instead. If you want to save some cutting time, use baby carrots just be sure to wash them well and be sure they’re small enough for your baby to manage once cooked soft. You can also exchange the pear for an apple and sprinkle your dish with herbs if you like.

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Crust-Free Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Pie

Gather up a sweet potato or a good chunk of organic pumpkin. Peel the produce and boil until tender. Once cooked, place the potato or pumpkin in a bowl along with 1/4 cup vegan butter, 2 tablespoons alternative milk (almond is good), 1/4 cup organic sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger. Using a large spoon, mash and mix until everything is nicely combined, then put your mixture into a small baking pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes (watch it carefully to avoid too much browning). Once cool, serve a scoop to your baby. If you don’t have time for this recipe, simply blend some pumpkin puree with a little baby oatmeal and spices.

Want more Thanksgiving recipes for baby?

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