If you have a new baby this year for the holidays, you might be wondering how to include him in the holiday feasting. Our guest post comes from Maggie at Wholesome Baby Food. We asked her for tips on healthy foods for babies who are new to solid foods.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about “back to school” time, but I do agree, that time of year is a keen competitor for the “most wonderful time of the year” moniker; I am talking about the Winter and Holiday season – the most wonderful time of the year.  Not only is it winter and holiday time, it’s food time as well.  The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and right on into New Year’s Day, is one of great culinary joy as we set about baking and roasting and dreaming of sugar plums and decadent desserts.  If you have a little one who is just starting solid foods, or one who is venturing on to more “adult” tastes and textures, the Winter and Holiday season is a veritable treasure trove of tasty foods for little ones of all ages. Include your baby in the culinary celebration whenever possible; it is easy, tasty and of course, nutritious.

During the Winter season you will find all sorts of tasty (and totally nutritious) winter squash like acorn, butternut, Hubbard, and even spaghetti squash.  Also on the list of winter food are tasty pears, persimmons, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnip and parsnips, broccoli and a whole host of other totally scrumptious and baby friendly offerings from the dirt and the trees.  One big bonus of Winter fruits and vegetables is that the majority of them won’t pose any allergy issues!  Another big bonus of the holiday meals is that the majority of us will be eating in season foods; great for the farmers and for mother earth.

If your baby is between 4 to 6 months of age, she will be able to eat winter squash, pears, sweet potatoes and green beans (no way, not “that” green bean casserole, take her portion out first please!) as well as apples.  There should be no need to prepare these foods in a special way for your little one, simply remove a portion prior to seasoning and set that portion aside until dinner time.  Easy Peasy!  Read on for some fast and simple ideas about feeding your little one during the holidays and enjoy a few recipes as well.

Butternut Squash or other Winter Squash

While these squash varieties straddle between the Fall and Winter, they peak between September and November, you would be hard pressed to not find them at a December holiday dinner table.  For babies between the ages of 4-6 months old, serve up some roasted butternut squash. This tasty squash usually makes an appearance on the majority of Holiday dinner tables in one form or another.  This squash is packed full of vitamins A and Beta Carotene as easily seen in its vibrant orange color.  The winter squash also has lots of minerals like calcium and iron.  If you won’t be finding this wonder veggie on your Holiday table, do be sure to try and roast one yourself.  It is so easy to roast and puree winter squash that you’ll wonder why you ever thought about baby food in a jar.

Roasted Butternut Squash – for babies 4 months and older

1 medium sized butternut squash (or any other type of winter squash)

1.  Preheat oven to 400-425F degrees.
2.  Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seed portions, lay face down in a baking dish then add some water to the dish.
Bake at 400-425F degrees for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the shell/skin puckers.  Allow to cool then scoop out the meat and puree!

For your older baby (from 8 months and older) there is no medical reason to hold off dishing out a wee bit of that roasted squash with apples and maple syrup on the table.   Baked acorn squash with apples, raisins, maple syrup and ground walnuts is a tasty dish that my family always has during the holidays. Many pediatricians are even suggesting that your little one can partake of foods that contain tree nuts as long as you do not have a history of tree nut allergies in your family!  Do be sure to watch carefully for choking hazards in any food that you offer your baby!

Roasted Parsnips & Carrots – for babies 6 months and older

1/2 pound carrots – washed, peeled and cut into long sticks
1/2 pound parsnips – washed, peeled and cut into long sticks

1.  Preheat oven to 400-425F degrees.
2.  Prepare a baking dish by lightly coating it with olive oil, add the prepared carrots and parsnips to the pan and swish them around a bit so that the veggies are coated in the oil.
3.  Cover the dish and bake at 400-425F degrees for approximately 30-45 minutes or until fork tender.  You may uncover the baking dish during the last 15-10 minutes of baking if you really want a deeper roasted flavor!
4.  Once finished allow to cool, then puree if needed.

Parsnips and carrots are truly delicious when they are roasted together and if you add a bit of fennel, the taste is just out of this world.  These two root vegetables are so simple to roast that if you have never done it, you’ll be sure to try it now.  Babies from the age of 6 months and older will delight in the color combination of parsnips and carrots as well as the slightly sweet and nutty flavor.  I suggest mashing or dicing them a wee bit and letting your little self-feeder dig in with his fingers.  Don’t forget to make this a side dish for your holiday meal!  If you want to add some zing, slice up some fennel and add to the baking dish with the carrots and parsnips.  Fennel may also be introduced to babies from 6-8 months and older.

Roasted Pears – for babies 4 months and older

3 Pears
dash of cinnamon or vanilla or ginger (leave out for babies under 6 months)

1.  Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
2.  Halve and core pears.
3.  Place pears in a shallow baking dish with about 1 inch of water.
4.  Add spices if desired, directly to the water.
5.  Bake at 350 degrees F. 25 minutes or until tender.
6.  Allow the pears to cool and then mash and serve mixed with sweet potatoes, turnip, carrots or even green beans!

Here is where these winter fruits pass into adulthood – serve warm baked pears with a scoop of french vanilla yogurt, drizzle a bit of caramel and dig in!

Pears are high in fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. They are a great fruit to offer your baby if she is suffering from a bout of constipation. Pears are gentle on the tummy and a pear is very nutrient dense; there are more nutrients per calorie than calories per nutrient. There is no need to peel a pear unless you are feeding it raw to a baby between 4-6 months of age. A pear’s skin is easily digestible.

Here are a few more ideas on how you can easily pull up baby’s highchair and let him dig into the Holiday meal.  Enjoy!

Squashy Apple Sweet Potatoes (6 months+)
Take a small scoop of that baked acorn or butternut squash and mash in some sweet potatoes and applesauce.

Sweet White Potatoes (7 months+)
Take a small scoop of (pre-seasoned) white mashed potatoes and blend in some sweet potatoes.

Baby’s Sweet Potato Apple Pie (6 months+)
Mix in some sweet potatoes and applesauce with oatmeal or rice cereal. Mix in yogurt for babies over 8 months.

Yummy Pumpkin Pie
Baby Pumpkin Pie is easy, simply blend pumpkin puree together with oatmeal or rice cereal. Mix in yogurt for babies over 8 months.

Mince Squash (8 months+)
Dish up some of the Christmas squash and add some pureed raisins and figs, sprinkle cinnamon and/or nutmeg and mix.

Green Beans and Potatoes (7 months+)
Green beans and mashed potatoes are a staple of many Holiday meals, for your baby, make a blend of white potatoes and green beans.

Christmas Spirit Tofu
Blend tofu, add smooshed peas and a hint of mint.

Baby’s Roast Beef Dinner
Serve your baby a yummy Christmas Holiday Dinner melange.

1 slice of Roast Beef
sweet potato

Blend all of the above Christmas food together for a yummy meal.   If your baby is eating finger foods, simply cut the meat into small pieces and arrange in baby’s dish with the sweet potato and applesauce.

Happy Holidays to all!

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