Thanksgiving is almost here, and you’re probably busy thinking about all of the delectable foods that you love to eat this time of year. As part of your menu planning (whether you’re getting take-out, cooking at home, or traveling to see family), don’t forget to think about what Thanksgiving foods are (and aren’t) great for little ones.
Thanksgiving foods to avoid for baby
There are many variables when it comes to stuffing, and you’re best off waiting until next year when baby is older, to introduce this seasonal dish. Many stuffing recipes include hard-to-chew items like dried fruit or celery—or sometimes the bread is very crispy. Unless the stuffing is able to be pureed, don’t bother with it.
Gravy may seem like a great idea, because of its texture and consistency—but it tends to be very salty, which isn’t good for baby. Skip it. Mashed potatoes are okay, if they are lump-free and/or watered down—but watch out for recipes that call for lots of added butter or cream cheese or other things you don’t want to give to baby.
- Turkey (it depends)
If baby is old enough to eat solids (usually around six months), turkey is okay, in moderation. But, notes pediatrician Dr. Jarret Patton, it needs to be made to the proper consistency—and should be the same as the stage of baby food they are eating. If you or your host are serving smoked turkey, don’t overdo it because of the salt content. And if your little one isn’t eating solids yet, better to wait for another day to introduce something so new.
- Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce can be quite acidic; it can also be loaded with sugar. And, whole-berry varieties can pose a choking hazard. Though cranberries themselves are healthy, wait on this for next time.
- Pumpkin pie
Along the same lines as the gravy, the consistency of pumpkin pie seems like it might be great for baby—but with the added sugar content in most pies—it’s not actually a good choice. See below for alternatives!
Thanksgiving foods that are good for baby
Here are a few ideas of Thanksgiving foods that are nutritious and delicious for baby. We’ve included instructions for purees, but if your child is eating solid foods, then you can certainly go that route.
- Sweet potato
A favorite of many little ones, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and other nutrients. Plus, they mash really well and are full of fiber. Here’s a great tutorial on how to make sweet potato puree for babies.
- Pumpkin or squash
As we noted above, you’re best avoiding pumpkin pie for baby (more for you!) because of the added sugar and spices. But, pumpkin puree (not pie filling) from a can is a-okay, or why not try mashed butternut squash?
Naturally sweet and healthy, cooked apples are great for baby. Here’s an easy recipe for apple baby puree.
- Green beans
A good source of vitamins and other nutrients, green beans are a popular vegetable to introduce to baby early on. And it’s easy to make green bean puree.
- Parsnip (and spinach!)
We love this recipe for a sweet and healthy parsnip and spinach puree that takes advantage of a seasonal root vegetable—and will taste good to baby while offering great nutrients.
With a little planning ahead, you and baby will have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. If you’ll be at someone else’s home, think about what you’ll want to bring with you to make things as easy and safe as possible—and enjoy!