Finger foods are bite-sized pieces of food that your baby can pick up and eat independently. Finger foods are great for keeping your child occupied while you prepare their meal - or you could make a whole meal of finger foods.
The introduction of finger food is a fun time for baby, it’s a messy time for you but ultimately it's an important early step for your baby towards independence and the development of fine motor skills and coordination.
Just remember - never leave your child unattended whilst eating. It is very easy for a baby to choke on even very small pieces of food.
When to Start Finger Foods
It is optimal to introduce finger foods when baby is between 7 and 9 months old. Signs of readiness include – signs of wanting to self feed such as grabbing the spoon when you’re feeding or attempted stealing of food off your plate!
It will take some practice for your baby to become proficient at self feeding – expect mess and many failed attempts as baby masters the pincer grasp and coordination.
How to Introduce Finger Foods
Simply scatter four or five pieces of finger food onto your baby's highchair tray or an unbreakable plate
. A suction baby bowl
is a great way to introduce finger foods and minimise spillage. It can be a good idea to invest in a good quality floor/mess mat
to place under the highchair that you can simply wipe down our take outside and shake off. Good quality bibs
are also essential to protect their clothes!
It is important to feed your baby in a highchair
(rather than in a car seat, on the play mat or in the buggy). This will teach baby that the highchair is the place to eat, the importance of sitting down to eat and the place for structured mealtimes. It also is safer as it can reduce the risk of choking. If you are eating as a family, make sure you include your baby so they can also understand the social aspects of eating and can learn from you.
Tips for Finger Foods
- Offer plenty of variety to stimulate your baby’s learning and experience of finger foods
- Look for foods that are easy for baby to pick up and to handle
- Start with food that does not require chewing (i.e it will dissolve easily or your baby can ‘gum’). Remember your baby may not have teeth (or if they do they won’t have many) so make sure you avoid any foods that can cause a choking hazard.
- As he grows into a toddler, you'll be able to give him bite-size pieces of whatever you're eating.
Finger Food Ideas
- Lightly toasted bread, bread sticks or bagels (spread with vegetable puree or Vegemite for extra vitamins)
- Small chunks of banana, avocado or other very ripe peeled and pitted fruit, like mango, pear, or seedless watermelon
- Small cubes of tofu
- Small pieces of well-cooked vegetables, like zucchini, potato, or sweet potato
Ideas From 9 months
As above but increase the variety and options
- Very small chunks of cheese, grated cheese
- Cut-up raisins, softened dried apricots, or stewed prunes
- Well-cooked pasta spirals, cut into pieces
- Cooked vegetables like well-cooked broccoli or cauliflower "trees", and carrot
- Soft fruit such as banana, seedless grapes, summer fruit (nectarines, peaches, plum), slices of apple and pear, kiwifruit
- Pea-size pieces of cooked chicken or other soft meat
- Rice cakes or crackers broken into small pieces
- Mouse traps, little sandwiches
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