Best Christmas finger food ideas for baby-led weaning
Can your baby eat Christmas dinner? Weaning and baby food expert Annabel Karmel has the lowdown on the best traditional festive food to serve finger food – and how. Plus, which foods your baby should avoid at Christmas
If you're introducing your baby to solids with baby-led weaning, there are plenty of traditional Christmas food favourites that double up quite brilliantly as baby-friendly finger foods.
You may have to make a little adjustment here and there – leaving out with some seasonings, perhaps, or cutting up some foods into more baby-hand-friendly chunks. And there are one or two foods best avoided altogether: see our list of 4 festive food favourites for your baby to avoid, below. But otherwise there's absolutely no reason why your weaning baby can't join in festive eating fun with the rest of the family. Here's how...
7 Christmas food ideas that are perfect for baby-led weaning – and 4 festive foods for babies to avoid
1. Christmas canapés
Canapés are, by definition, sweet or savoury finger food – which means they're pretty much baby-led weaning food aimed at grown-ups! So, providing a canapé doesn't feature foods that your baby shouldn't yet eat – something very salty, perhaps, or a mould-ripened cheese (see Cheese board, number 6 below), you can include your baby in.
Even better, you can serve simplified canapés exclusively with your baby in mind: these can be as fuss-free as bought breadsticks or cheese straws. If you're up for a bit of home prep, I'd suggest small blinis, topped with cream cheese or my easy-to-make, bite-sized Mini Turkey Balls. For a savoury, cheesy festive finger food, try my Mini Veggie Christmas Shapes.
Turkey is packed full of protein and iron, as well as whole host of vitamins and minerals, so it's actually a fantastic baby-food option all year round.
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When carving your Christmas turkey on the big day, simply shave off a slice of breast to offer as a finger food. Place it directly onto your child's highchair tray or plate. They can then pick up it up and gum it and chew it at their own pace.
You could also offer some turkey thigh meat: as it's a little more tender, it will fall apart more easily, so place it in front of your baby in shredded pieces. Avoid giving skin, though, if it's been highly seasoned or has been cooked covered with (salty) bacon.
Potatoes are rich in iron, B vitamins, folate and zinc and they're also a source of vitamin C and choline (good for brain development). Whether they're served as roasties on Christmas Day, in bubble and squeak on Boxing Day or mashed and spread on top of turkey pie later in Christmas week, potatoes get the baby-led weaning festive thumbs up.
With roasties, remove your baby's portion from the roasting tin before you season them for everyone else – or flavour all the roasties with fresh thyme, sage or rosemary, rather than salt.
Make sure your baby's roasties have had a chance to cool (they can stay hot in the middle for a while) and are large enough that they can't be swallowed whole (and potentially choked on).
4 festive food favourites for babies to avoid
- Chocolate. It’s everywhere at Christmas and, as tempting as it might be to offer a little bite, babies should not have sugar or caffeine in the first 12 months. Great excuse to keep those chocolate coins and mini chocolate Santas to yourself!
- Whole nuts. Children under the age of 5 should not be given whole nuts as they are a choking hazard. Instead you can offer them cut up, or ground or as a nut butter.
- Gravy. It’s very salty and often contains a swig of alcohol to give it a depth of flavour.
- Pig in blankets. Who doesn’t love pigs in blankets? But this seasonal delight is definitely one to save for when your baby is older. Bacon and sausages are both processed meats which contain far too much salt for your baby to manage right now.
4. Loads of green veg
The traditional sides of broccoli, cabbage, leafy greens and green beans all get the thumbs up for your your little eater. As do Brussels sprouts, of course! Watching all the family tuck into to so many different shapes and textures of veg will probably encourage your baby to give new foods a try.
Just be sure to cut up their veggies to a size they can easily and safely pick them up themselves – either as batons (around 5cm to 6cm in length) or as florets. With sprouts, you can cut them up into small pieces: great for helping to practise that pincer grip!
Again, if you're going to season the veg before you serve it, set aside your baby's portion before you do so.
5. Roasted carrots and parsnips
There's nothing better than roasted carrots and parsnips to complete your Christmas plate. And your baby can eat them with all the same herbs, mild spices and oils that you usually roasted them with with. Just take out their portion from your roasting tin before you add any salt.
You do need to be careful about one thing, though: avoid drizzling honey over your parsnips or carrots, as babies shouldn't have honey until they're over 12 months old.
The Christmas cheese board is often met with groans of, "I'm too full!" but soon we're all tucking in – and your baby can too!
Batons or sticks of hard, pasteurised cheeses, such as Cheddar, Red Leicester or Edam cheese are all good finger-food options and, what's more, they contain fat (needed as energy for your growing baby) protein, vitamin A and calcium.
Avoid giving your baby unpasteurised cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert and soft, blue-veined cheese as they can sometimes contain listeria bacteria, which can make babies (and pregnant women) quite ill.
Avoid low-fat or diet cheeses, too, as these are low in nutrition and likely to include added sweeteners.
A teeny orange is a traditional stocking filler and the smell sings of all things merry and bright. Clementine, mandarin or satsuma segments make great baby finger food, and the perfect Christmas pud, while the adults overindulge in Christmas pudding and trifle – ssh!
Clementines are packed with vitamin C, which means they will help with the absorption of iron from the turkey and green veggies of the main course.
Many clementines, mandarins and satsumas are seedless but it's worth checking when you peel them: if you have got one with seeds, just squeeze them out before handing the segment to your baby.
- Annabel Karmel's #1 rated recipe app has over 650 simple and delicious ideas – and new recipes every week. It also gives you exclusive access to meal planners, shopping lists, an allergy tracker, and a listen-along weaning guide. Download it from the App Store or Google Play and start your FREE TRIAL.
Pic: Getty Images
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