Festive Food for Baby-Led Weaning
The festive season is a great time for babies just starting or new to Baby-Led Weaning. It is an opportunity for them to sample lots of strong flavours, spices and textures alongside their family which makes it an enjoyable time for all.
Thanksgiving and Christmas parties mean that there will be lots of finger foods to hand which makes introducing solids to your baby even easier! Conversely, having a family sit-down dinner is also helpful as your little one will see everyone savouring all of the festive foods and they will want to join in. It can additionally be a great opportunity to introduce them to cutlery as they will be able to see first hand that everyone in the family uses it (see our other post on "Navigating the Early Stages of BLW" for more tips on cutlery and tableware for babies).
However, there are a few things to be mindful of when including your Baby-Led Baby in the festivities:
Things to Look Out For
Cast a careful eye over your little one as party canapés also mean small pieces of food that could pose a choking hazard due to the (quite often) crunchy textures. Ensure they are in an upright position and that finger foods are cut to appropriate sizes for your baby (keep the party food chunky or cut them in sticks/wedges making sure that grapes etc. are halved or quartered lengthways)
Check the label/packaging on shop bought festive food as it may contain hidden alcohol! (I once gave Little Miss E a mini mince pie but luckily realised at the last minute to check the ingredients and sure enough, it had brandy in it!)
Be mindful of how much salt there may be in your celebratory food; a little will be fine for under ones, but bear in mind that if they are having festive roast with gravy, sausages (vegetarian or meat), seasoned vegetables etc. then the salt content in all of this can add up. Perhaps allow them to have only a little taster of each or make sure veg is unsalted or steamed (adults can always add salt to their portions).
(See our post "Navigating the Early Stages of BLW" for more information and links to baby first aid sources)
A Festive Recipe to Enjoy
Last year during Christmas lunch with the family we popped open a bottle of bubbly (a rare treat for us!). Little Miss E started crying her heart out because she obviously wasn't allowed any but felt so much a part of the proceedings and like a grown up sitting at the table (we felt so sorry for her!). This year I will be sure to find an alcohol-free substitute so that she won't feel so hard done by!
Along with festive foods and treats, one of my favourite things to make is Mulled Cider. Deliciously spicy and warming, to me it embodies the tastes and smells of Christmas. We have a few teetotallers (and designated drivers!) in the family, so I adapted this to make a Warming Mulled Apple Juice which always goes down equally well. This is a great treat for the little ones and provides a healthy dose of vitamins too (vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and folic acid)!
WARMING MULLED APPLE JUICE
2 litres of freshly squeezed or cloudy apple juice
3 apples, washed, cored and sliced into wedges
2 oranges, washed and sliced into half moons (peel on)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons of ground mixed spice
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
Place all of the ingredients into a large pot and simmer (do not boil) on a low to medium heat for at least an hour (the longer the better) until you can smell the aroma of the spices.
Alternative Twist - add in some star anise, crushed cranberries, honey (for over 1 year olds) or as a special sweet treat, a tablespoon of light soft brown sugar.
(See our book and follow us on Instagram/Facebook for more delicious Baby-Led Family Recipes!)
Wishing you an amazing festive period and I hope that you enjoy a warm, healthy and happy time with your loved ones!