Cute Ideas for Baby’s First Thanksgiving

A very happy baby sitting among pumpkins at the farm.

Right in the middle of the holiday season is Thanksgiving, which is the perfect combination of family and food. As a new mom, it’s also the first time a lot of your relatives will see your baby. So, how do you make the most of the occasion? Thanksgiving is a chance to create amazing memories, and you don’t want to pass it up. Read on for tips on making your baby’s first Thanksgiving the best it can possibly be:

DIY a cute Thanksgiving outfit

Romper listed some absolutely adorable Thanksgiving outfit suggestions. However, if you’re more of a DIY gal, instead of heading straight to the kids’ clothing aisle, go to the craft store with a plan to make your own ensemble. Grab a plain white romper, a sponge brush and some fabric paint in the fall colors of your choice – yellows, reds, oranges and browns are classic options. On your way out of the store, pick up a sales flyer or two; trust me, you’ll be grateful you did.

Once you’re back home, clear a space for crafting and follow the steps below:

  1. Take the craft store sales flyer – or cardboard or an old magazine if you forgot to grab one – and place it between the front and back of the romper. This way, the fabric paint won’t seep to the other side and glue the outfit together.
  2. Squirt some fabric paint – any color will do – onto a disposable plate. Dip your sponge brush and spread the paint over your baby’s palm.
  3. Press the palm flat against the front of the plain romper and voila: You now have the beginnings of a classic turkey hand print.
  4. Wash your baby’s hand and use the other paint colors to decorate the romper and turkey however you like. You can even add your hand print to the back once the front of the outfit is dry.

If you want to make this craft a family-wide affair, have dinner guests layer their paint hand prints over each other, varying the colors evenly. The end result may not look like a turkey anymore, but you’ll definitely wind up with a very unique pattern.

Set the table with custom placemats

A table set with forks and knives. An arrangement of pumpkins and autumn leaves acts as a centerpiece.Create a beautiful spread surrounded by your baby’s handmade placemats.

Imagine the joy on your parent’s faces when they gather around for dinner only to see the table has been set with placemats bearing your child’s hand print. Yes, this Thanksgiving idea also involves turkeys, but this time your little one makes the tail only. Here’s how to make them:

  1. During your trip to the craft store, grab brown construction paper, sponge brushes, acrylic paint and sheets of cardstock measuring at least 11 by 14 inches. Grab a laminator (or use the one in your office) if you want to reuse these placemats.
  2. Take your baby’s right hand and, using the sponge brush, cover the palm with acrylic paint. Place the palm slight left of the center of the placemat. Repeat with the left hand, only place the palm slightly right of the center. The fingers should all be aligned the same way, and the pinkies should slightly overlap.
  3. Cut two circles from the construction paper, each different sizes. Arrange them in the middle of the hand prints, placing the big circle on bottom and small one on top to form the turkey’s body. If you happened to get some red and yellow paint, add a little beak and snood. Wait for the placemat to dry, then use as is or laminate for extra durability.

Of course, this Thanksgiving idea requires a headcount of everyone who will be attending dinner, which isn’t exactly easy to get if you have a large extended family. You might want to make a few extras just in case.

Create natural toys for sensory play

A collection of colorful gourds and pumpkins.Small gourds are great for sensory play.

Childhood educators and specialists agree: Hands-on experiences that involve multiple senses are great for an infant’s cognitive development, which then sets the stage for everything else learned in life. Combining sight, touch, sound, taste and smell whenever possible helps your little one develop creative problem-solving abilities by teaching them how to classify different objects and environments.

Given all the tasty foods and delicious smells of Thanksgiving dinner, don’t you think this holiday is a great opportunity to let your little one engage in sensory play? Here are some ideas:

  • Pour a bit of your seasoning blend into a bowl. Hold the spices up to your infant so he or she can smell them, then offer a small taste. You may even be able to gauge your little one’s food preferences early!
  • Scoop some cranberry sauce into a shatterproof bowl and let your infant squish his or her fingers through it.
  • If fresh pumpkin pie is on the menu, save the pumpkin innards and wrap them in a resealable sandwich bag. Cover the open edge with packaging tape, then let your infant play to his or her heart’s content. The mixture of fleshy, stringy material and small, firm seeds is great for holding a toddler’s attention.

Make sure you offer experiences that let your infant use a number of senses, not just sight and touch.

Don’t forget the photo op!

It’s true: Thanksgiving is a stressful time of year. Still, there’s always a way to create fond memories during this holiday. Maybe your little girl spilled pureed yams all over herself, or your boy decided to take a snooze curled up against the family dog. In all the madness of cooking, cleaning and watching parades and football, don’t forget to grab your phone and snap a couple of photos.

Baby’s first Thanksgiving is a remarkable time, so try not to let it pass you by. These fun craft and play ideas will surely help you make memories for years to come.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.