When your child reaches the 2+ toddler stage, you look forward to milestones like running without falling and sitting in a booster seat at family meals. Your toddler will also start to chew efficiently and skillfully with their mouth shut while mastering the use of their oogaa “choo-choo” train fork and spoon. During this stage, it’s time to introduce your toddler to the Thanksgiving table. Pull up a child’s chair for the first “big kid” dinner and celebrate the entire family on this holiday.
What to Eat?
Using the Gerber online menu planner, you can generate a personalized, nutritionally balanced 5-star weekly menu based on your child’s food preferences and restrictions. Provide a toddler ages 2 and older with a diet rich in each food group. With that in mind, what kind of food and in what quantities is good for your child’s Thanksgiving day meal?
Stick with your food plan but with a Thanksgiving twist — 1/4 cup of skinless turkey diced into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch. Sides can include 1/4 cup sweet or mashed potatoes, a small dinner roll, 1/4 cup vegetable, and 1/2 cup low-fat organic milk. See if she’ll eat a little cranberry sauce, a treat typically enticing to a sophisticated palate.
Kids get bored fast so you have to make the Thanksgiving feast interesting, to say the least. Because it’s her first Thanksgiving, spend time introducing her to the idea of sitting around a large table with lots of people. Go around the table and have each person introduce their Thanksgiving-day name: “Bella, I’m Professor Wigglefeather. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Then the next person can say, “Hi Bella, I’m Pam the Pilgrim and I like to pull pigtails,” and so on. This is sure to get her giggling (or picturing everyone with feathers coming out of their heads). Your guests will get a kick out of the activity as well.
Little Miss Manners
Before anyone picks up a fork, take a moment for prayer, reflection or a simple “thanks” to the family for coming. Ask each person what they are thankful for and teach your little one about gratitude — the true meaning of family and the holidays.
Because manners are developed over time, the dinner table is a good starting place for showing your child acceptable ways to act at the table. Maybe, just maybe, she won’t fling a pile of mashed potatoes onto the floor this dinner. Teach your toddler to wash their hands before and after dinner. Banging her spoon or grabbing food from other people’s plates are absolutely not appropriate. Also, make “please” and “thank you” habits.
Snapshots of Milestones
Take oodles of photos. Holiday celebrations are the best times to capture that one perfect image for your holiday photo postcards, whether it’s of baby girl posing at dinner the table or the family hound snatching the falling scraps. Don’t let those classic and candid moments at the Thanksgiving dinner table slip by.
Lastly, let her make a wish and go head to head with the last year’s wishbone pull winner. And after it’s all done and her first Thanksgiving fades behind her tired eyes, lay her down for bed and get back to your party. Maybe half the dishes will be cleaned by your wonderful family by the time you return.
Guest post by Sarah Simms…
Sarah is a culinary master who writes for various cooking blogs. She looks forward to the upcoming holiday season so she can share her kitchen creations with the world.