Everything you need to know about Thanksgiving food for babies and toddlers

Dana Peters - Pediatric Registered Dietitian / Pediatric Registered Dietitian / Updated Nov 17, 2021
Thanksgiving food for babies and toddlers prep list

Turkey. Cranberry sauce. Green bean casserole. Name a more iconic American meal than Thanksgiving dinner. For many families, the holiday is steeped in tradition and quite frankly, an elaborate meal. But how does that translate once you add babies and toddlers into the mix?

Can they ... or better yet, will they eat our favorite Thanksgiving foods? While we can’t answer the latter, the quick answer to the former is a pretty big yes. Most of the foods on our holiday tables can be served safely to little ones and we’ve got you covered on how to do just that.

It is worth noting though, that holidays can be overwhelming for children and that can impact their eating. They may eat more or less than normal and they may or may not be open to trying new foods. Do your best not to worry too much -- a day or two of disrupted meals is not going to impact them in the long run.


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Good news! Pretty much all Thanksgiving foods can be served safely to your baby or toddler, eliminating the need to make special foods for your child. (Unless you want to!) Hopefully, you feel some of that holiday stress already melting away! 

Since new environments and new people can distract kids from eating, it may be worth bringing along food your child is comfortable with if you are going to be a guest in someone else’s home. This can be as simple as fruit or cheese slices. 

Keep reading for our serving tips and tricks for some of the most common Thanksgiving dishes. 

how much thanksgiving food for toddler

Repeat after us: There’s no right amount your baby or toddler should eat at Thanksgiving dinner -- or any meal for that matter!  

Many kids will eat less than they typically do as there are a lot of other exciting things going on. This can be especially true for children going through a picky eating phase. Others will eat as they normally do or even eat a bit more than usual. Whatever happens is completely okay!

We’ve gathered some of the most common Thanksgiving dishes and included safe serving tips below. Recipes differ from family to family (and we’re not here to tell you whether wet or dry brine is superior!) so consider this a quickstart guide to planning your baby or toddler’s Thanksgiving plate. 

For the purposes of this list, we’ve considered a baby to be 6 - 12 months old and a toddler to be between 1 - 3 years old. 

If you have a younger baby who recently started solids, it may be best to stick to single foods and avoid foods with common allergens if you haven’t introduced them yet. We've noted which to look out for below.

Additionally, while most Thanksgiving foods can be adapted for this age group, it’s okay if you’d rather serve foods you’re more comfortable with, such as purees, or skip the meal altogether. Babies can still benefit developmentally from sitting with the family during mealtime, even if they aren’t eating. 

Lastly, some of these foods may have more salt or sugar than you would normally serve to your baby or toddler. In the end, what you choose to serve is up to you, but know that one meal is not going to make much of a difference in their overall diet. Typically it's best to choose foods with less than 5-10% of the daily value for sodium or added sugar. But it can be difficult to measure a homemade recipe, so try not to sweat a one-off special occasion like Thanksgiving.

how to serve thanksgiving turkey to babies

Yes, turkey is perfectly safe for babies! Make sure it is well-cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit and that it has a soft texture, not chewy. Turkey provides beneficial nutrients for babies and toddlers such as protein, zinc, and choline. 

Potential allergens: None

  • Blend into a puree

  • Shred thinly into small pieces

  • Pinky-sized piece for baby-led weaning

  • Diced into small cubes 

  • Use thin pieces to make a sandwich

Yes, stuffing is a great choice for babies because it is soft! Watch out for larger pieces of food such as mushrooms or celery and be sure to chop well if needed. It’s common for toddlers to be hesitant to try this dish since there are a lot of foods mixed into one. 

Potential allergens: Dairy (butter), eggs 

  • Small, well-chopped bite size pieces

  • Diced into small cubes

You bet! The pureed texture of mashed potatoes make them a great option for babies. Plus, who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?! This is often a great “safe food” choice.

Potential allergens: Dairy (milk, butter)

  • Pre-loaded on a spoon

  • On plate or tray -- let them use their hands!

  • On plate or tray with a spoon (they may also use their hands)

thanksgiving gravy safe for babies

Generally, yes. Some store bought gravies may be a little heavy on the sodium, so serve sparingly. Gravy could make a great dip for toddlers, who love to dip just about anything. 

Potential allergens: Dairy (butter, cream), wheat (flour)

  • Mix together with mashed potatoes

  • Use to moisten turkey

  • Use to top mashed potatoes or turkey

  • Put on side as a dip

Yes, green bean casserole is typically safe to eat as long as the veggies are cooked to a soft enough texture. Check by squeezing between your thumb and forefinger to see that they mash easily. 

Potential allergens: Dairy (butter, milk, cream), wheat (flour) 

  • Blended into a puree

  • Pinky-sized piece for baby-led weaning

  • Small, well-chopped bite size pieces

  • Diced into small pieces

Yes, cranberry sauce can be safe for babies and toddlers. Watch out for nuts and large pieces of cranberries as they could be potential choking hazards. 

Potential allergens: Nuts

  • Blended into a puree

  • Pre-loaded on a spoon

  • On plate or tray with a spoon

  • Put on side as a dip

Get through mealtimes with confidence

Whether you're serving purees or table food, starting solids doesn't have to be so messy. (Mentally, anyway!) Download the Huckleberry app to track your child’s food journey, allergens, and preferences.

Sweet potatoes and yams can be served many different ways -- candied, mashed, roasted, etc., but they are all generally safe for babies. Check to ensure the texture is soft enough and be aware of toppings such as nuts or marshmallows (both uncooked and roasted), which may present a choking hazard. 

Potential allergens: Dairy (butter)

  • Blend into a puree

  • Pre-loaded on a spoon

  • On plate or tray with a spoon

  • Diced into small pieces

How to serve pumpkin pie to babies and toddlers

Yes, pumpkin pie is typically safe for babies to eat. Consider serving a few spoonfuls of just the pie filling for younger babies as the crust may be too difficult to chew. Pumpkin pie may have more sugar than you typically serve, so do what you feel is right for your family. 

Potential allergens: Wheat (flour), dairy (butter, cream) eggs

  • Pre-load a spoon with pie filling

  • Diced into small pieces 

Possibly! Pecan pie is made with nuts which are a choking hazard for kiddos under age 4. They do tend to soften up with baking, so it would be ok for a toddler with good chewing skills when served in appropriate sized pieces (about ¼ to ½ square inches). 

Potential allergens: Nuts, wheat (flour), dairy (butter), eggs

  • Best to skip due to choking risk

  • Diced into small pieces 

Not only is it safe, bread is a total crowd pleaser! Many babies and toddlers love bread and are comfortable eating it. If a roll is all your child eats out of the meal -- and this is a real possibility -- that’s ok. 

Potential allergens: Wheat (flour)

  • Pinky-sized piece for baby-led weaning

  • Small, well-chopped bite size pieces

  • Whole, depending on bread

  • Diced into small pieces