You may have started the weaning process or have a mini foodie on your hands. But wherever your baby is on the feeding journey, just how do you serve them at Christmas?
We’ve pulled together the best tips so your baby can join in with minimal fuss for you.
1) Blankets are for snuggles only
Of course you want your baby to tuck in and enjoy Christmas dinner, but be careful about which elements you choose to introduce her to at this stage.
Yes, she might enjoy the pigs in blankets (really, who doesn’t?), but a couple of treats like these will use up most of her salt allowance for the day (babies and toddlers shouldn’t have more than 1g salt a day) so go easy!
If you really want her to join in, add some herbs to low fat pork mince and squeeze into little sausages and fry off in a little olive oil. She’ll never know the difference!
2) Make the spuds-you-like
If there's one veg you can wholly rely on to please a crowd it's potatoes – roasted, mashed, or battered – everyone loves the humble spud. Contrary to belief, they're pretty good for you and your little one, too.
Potatoes are a rich source of Vitamin B, folate and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and iron. And they’ll be a sure fire hit if you mash up your roasties with a little cranberry sauce for a sweet and tangy lunch.
3) To sprout or not to sprout
We get it, sprouts are really good for us, but no amount of bribery is getting it past his lips. Go Mary Poppins on his purée by adding some natural sugar for a stealth health boost. Blend sprouts with your roasted parsnips, keeping the ratio of parsnips higher to mask the bitter taste.
4) Turkey troubleshooter
We've all been there, your turkey's turned out as dry as a Jacob’s cream cracker and unlike nice auntie Nicola, the little terror won't politely pretend to like it. Use it to your advantage because when it comes to kiddie food, the more textures the better, say experts.
So shred the turkey, chop up the carrots, add a dollop of crème fraîche and let him pick, play and eat. If you have older children, jump on the gravy train to moisten food, but do go easy on salt.
5) Add some spice
There's no better time than Christmas to broaden his taste and start nurturing your tiny foodie. Nutmeg, cinnamon and rosemary are great ways to introduce spice to small people.
But remember, any foods with too much heat can a recipe for disaster. Stick to mild seasoning and keep a pot of yoghurt in the fridge for when he gets sniffy about new flavours and you need to dilute the taste.
6) Do a trial run
If you’re making a child-friendly Christmas dish especially for your baby, do try it out before the big day so she's familiar with it – babies can take up to 10 tries to get used to a new flavour. It’s a win-win, as you can make enough for a few meals and save a portion for an easy life on Christmas morning.
7) Split up the courses
If you think she will manage joining in with the meal itself, break it up. If you're having a starter, serve it separate to the main course, then have dessert a little while later. Your baby will find shorter mealtimes much easier to handle, and the grown-ups will have more room for pudding. Win-win!
8) Have a back-up plan
In the worst-case scenario, if your baby is simply not enjoying her Christmas dinner, don’t feel guilty for grabbing a pouch. There are plenty of babies who will be happily digging into their favourite pasta dish for Christmas dinner and that’s fine as there’s plenty of time for her to join in the family lunch in years to come! Before you know it, she’ll be hogging all the roasties and asking for more gravy.