You’ve started weaning and with Christmas just around the corner you’re wondering ‘Can my baby eat Christmas dinner? (and very much hoping the answer is yes!)
Good news - there’s no reason why a fantastically festive spread can’t be enjoyed by the whole family – baby included. In fact, certain traditional Christmas foodie favourites double up as fantastic weaning friendly foods. Here are my top tips on cooking for your baby this Christmas!
Babies and toddlers love to eat with their fingers and more manageable mouthfuls are less overwhelming for a small child, so canapes are ideal. Blinis are often a favourite when it comes to canapes at Christmas so why not make your own mini pancakes and top with cream cheese, poached salmon or avocado. Or why not try my mini Turkey, Cranberry & Vegetable Balls (recipe below) which are great for baby-led weaners and adults alike!
The Main Event
The traditional Christmas lunch is a complete nutritious meal for your growing baby so they can absolutely join in! Turkey is high in protein and iron, then there’s a whole host of veggies for them to try from carrots and parsnips to brussels sprouts and broccoli. Every family will have their favourites but whatever you’re serving up as part of your spread, keep mini portions back for baby before you add seasoning. Babies can’t have salt but you add lots of flavour using herbs and mild spices such as sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley and cumin.
Gravy is very salty so is best avoided. If you’re making your own, you can use special unsalted baby stock cubes (or make your own stock) then mix with some flour and meat juices.
If you’re spoon-led weaning then blend, mash or chop the portions of vegetables and turkey you’ve reserved just for them until you get the desired consistency for your baby. For baby-led weaning, cut off some thin slices of turkey and keep back with some steamed or roasted vegetables and place directly onto their highchair. Remember that little ones love to be involved so will enjoy being at the dining table, observing what’s being served, taking in the new sights and smells and eating what everyone else is having.
With Christmas all wrapped up, it’s time to transform any leftover veggies or cold meats (that didn’t make the obligatory round of sandwiches) into mini burgers, meatballs, pies and baby purees. Try my Turkey, Leek & Carrot Pies (recipe below) which are suitable for the whole family and let’s face it we’re all after something nice and easy post Christmas!
Sweets, chocolate, biscuits and other tempting treats are in abundance at Christmas and whilst us adults can enjoy these guilt-free on the big day, babies shouldn’t have sugar or caffeine in the first 12 months so resist letting them join in on all the fun. There’s no harm in toddlers having the odd treat over the festive period but just make sure they are also eating nutritious main meals alongside and try to have a healthy supply of snacks on hand so they’re not always reaching for the chocolate tin!
Try my Kiwi Christmas Tree or North Pole Penguins (recipe below) which are fantastic recipes to get little ones involved in the decoration; both are a healthier take on the Christmas treat but no less fun!
Baby’s Routine at Christmas
Easier said than done I know, but if you can, try and stick to their usual sleep and feeding routine - I promise, Christmas Day will be a happier one for everyone involved! There is so much excitement in the air over Christmas and unsurprisingly your baby will want in the action too! Just think of the new music, smells, twinkly lights and additional visitors – it’s sensory overload so whilst it’s great to let them join in just ensure that you allow for some quiet time in between the festivities.
TURKEY, LEEK & CARROT PIES
Leftover turkey? The answer - my turkey, leek and carrot pies. Simply scale up the recipe if you’re cooking for the whole family.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Makes: 4 - 6 portions
Suitable for freezing
- 30g butter
- 1 leek, sliced
- 100g carrot, peeled and diced
- 30g flour
- 400ml unsalted chicken stock
- 2 tbsp double cream
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
- 20g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 150g cooked turkey, diced
- 500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
- A knob of butter
- 2 tbsp milk
- Preheat the oven to 180C Fan.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the leek and carrots, cover with a lid and gently cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, then blend in the stock, stirring until thickened. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the cream, lemon juice and sage. Stir well, then add the cheese and turkey. Season and spoon into small ramekins.
- Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes until tender. Drain and mash with the butter and milk. Spread the mash on top of the pies and fork the top.
- Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes until bubbling and brown on top.
TURKEY, CRANBERRY & VEGETABLE BALLS
Kids and adults alike will love my tasty mini Turkey Balls. These festive finger foods are fantastic for the whole family - serve either as a Christmas canape or to those little ones who are enjoying the wonderful world of baby-led weaning. With carrots, mushrooms, spinach and cranberries these small but mighty bites pack a festively nutritious punch!
Prep: 10 minutes (plus cooling time)
Cook: 10 – 15 minutes
Makes: 18 mini balls
Suitable for freezing
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 50g carrot, peeled and grated
- 60g mushrooms, chopped
- 50g spinach
- 300g minced turkey
- 200g cold mashed potato
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 25g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 30g dried cranberries, chopped
- 25g Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp thyme, chopped
A little oil for frying
- Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the carrots and mushrooms and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Leave to cool.
- Put the minced turkey, mashed potatoes, cooled vegetables, spring onions, Parmesan cheese, cranberries, half of the breadcrumbs, egg yolk and thyme into a mixing bowl. Season lightly (for babies 12 months +) and mix well. Shape into 18 balls and roll in the remaining breadcrumbs.
- Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Add the balls and fry over a high heat for 5-8 minutes until golden on all sizes.
NORTH POLE PENGUINS
These chilly chocolate penguins are utterly adorable and are sure to impress little ones. Quick, easy and a healthier festive treat option, they’re sure to be a new family favourite.
Prep: 20 - 30 minutes (plus freezing time)
Cook: 5 minutes
Makes: 6 banana penguins
- 150g dark chocolate chips
- 3 bananas
- 18 orange M&Ms
- White ready to roll icing
- Chocolate icing pen
- Peel 3 bananas and cut each in half. Place in the freezer.
- Melt the dark chocolate into a bowl over a pan of simmering water until runny. Leave to cool slightly.
- To make the penguin’s eyes, roll out small balls using ready to roll icing. Pipe the pupils onto the eye using a chocolate icing pen.
- Once completely frozen, remove the bananas from the freezer and peel.
- Dunk the top half of the banana into the melted chocolate, gently rolling so you get a longer coating on the back. Dunk the bottom of the banana in the chocolate to create the feet.
- Carefully stick on the eyes and do the same with the M&Ms for the nose and two for the feet.
- Place back in the freezer briefly to set and then serve.
For lots of great recipe ideas for your baby and toddler, head to Annabel’s Christmas Recipe Hub