Once you notice your baby is curious and can pick up some food and put it in her mouth, it is probably time to try out some finger foods for her. Some cheerios, teething biscuits, and soft vegetables are an excellent go-to option for finger foods. So let us get a better understanding of when is baby ready for finger foods?
Finger foods for kids
The weaning phase is a new and fun experience for both you and baby; you might have started her off with some purees or gone the baby-led weaning approach where you started straight with soft finger foods. But whatever the case, you should notice your baby interested in feeding herself at about 7 to 8 months. But before introducing the finger foods and solids, ensure you have gotten a go-ahead from your pediatrician.
Three simple signs that your baby is ready for the finger foods
If you notice some of these signs, then probably your baby is ready for some finger foods.
- They pick up a piece of biscuit or any food and can direct it to their mouth.
- You notice some chewing motion when feeding them something thicker with a bite to it.
- They are probably not interested in their pureed food.
What if my baby is still struggling to pick up food?
I am sure you are eager to see your baby feed herself a few snacks, but you have to remember every child’s development is different. And being able to lift and put food in their mouth is a significant milestone, so give her some time she will get there. If your baby cannot easily put the food in their mouth, they are not ready for the finger foods, and if you rush her, she could choke.
But there are a few things that you can do to help her along.
– If you are feeding her something a little slippery, maybe an avocado or banana, try and add some texture to it. Try adding toasted oats cereal; once rolled, it will create that desired texture.
– For round foods like beans and peas, try and pinch them; when it is flat, it will make it easier for your little one to pick.
Food safety for baby food
It is safe to start finger foods from 6 to 9 months; it all depends on how ready your baby is. When starting this journey, ensure you start with small pieces that can easily dissolve, and once she gets used to holding, chewing, and safely swallowing, you can branch out to pieces of foods that easily break apart.
When starting off, avoid the large pieces that are sticky and take some time to dissolve, as these are a choking hazard for your little one. These are foods like nuts, carrots, hot dogs, popcorn, grapes, candy, peanut butter, just to name a few.
Try and start with baby finger foods, as most of our snacks can be too salty for your little one; you should also keep this in mind when preparing baby food, avoid using salt at all costs.
And as usual, after every feed, ensure you properly burp your baby before putting her down.
How to introduce these finger foods?
Breastmilk milk, or formulae, is the primary source of nutrition as you introduce finger foods. It is advised that you begin with spoon-feeding your child until she is used to the idea of solid foods, but from time to time, if you notice your child is interested in feeding herself, you should allow this. This is a good sign that baby is ready for some finger foods, so put some soft, easy-to-digest finger food on her feeding table and watch her do the magic. It is a fun experience for both you and your baby.
As you go on with weaning your baby, ensure that you follow her cues; if you notice she is not responding positively to something new, try and take a break and maybe try again later. But don’t give up; not all babies respond positively to something new; in fact, it can take up to 20 times for your baby to get used to a new taste or texture, so in this case, don’t force your baby to eat, rather be persistent during the feeding times.
To make the introduction of finger foods much more manageable, consider starting with thicker purees and adding some texture. It will help your baby to get used to these new textures you are introducing. A heads up, this will be a messy process, so be patient and look at feeding as a new fun activity for you and your baby.
Best finger foods for kids
When starting with finger foods, think of soft, small pieces that can be chewed effortlessly. But no need to think too hard about this as I have picked out a few finger foods that you can explore for your little one. These foods are ideal for your baby till one-year-old; as she gets comfortable with these snacks, you can slowly increase the size, these are healthy finger foods for kids.
- Some dry cereal and puffs
These are the most popular go-to option to start your finger food journey. They immediately help your baby practice the pincer grasp by making her pick one cereal at a time as she puts it in her mouth. Additionally, these will mix with her saliva and soften, making it easy for her to chew without being a choking hazard.
2. Teething biscuits or maybe some bread
For the bread, cut it into small pieces without the chewy crust as for the teething biscuits are also perfect finger foods as these soften quickly when mixed with her saliva. Between 9-12 months, your baby could be ready for slightly larger pieces. Instead of just plain bread, try to have some bread that is topped with mashed avocado, or banana, even peanut butter but a thin spread.
3. Scrambled eggs are perfect finger foods.
Eggs have been for the longest a potentially allergenic food, but with the recent studies, AAP recommends introducing eggs at an early age. This is great, so get your pan and scramble some eggs for her, as this is an ideal finger food to start with. It is soft, chewy, and in small sizes; thus, it does not raise any risks as a choking hazard.
4. Introduce some soft food
Start off with ripe fruit, as these are naturally soft, the likes of banana, watermelon, peach, cantaloupe, blueberries, raspberries, to name a few. When cut into small pieces, these are great options start with—a healthy yet sweet treat for your little one.
5. Soft cooked pasta
It is recommended that you cook your pasta al dente, but you need to ensure you have overcooked them for your little one, making it soft for her to eat. Start with small pieces, like mini shells; these are great to hold. Start with plain cooked pasta; once she has gotten the hang of eating, you can add some flavor like butter, low sodium tomatoes, or olive oil.
6. Avocado is also a nice treat.
We all know the health benefits it offers; omega-3 fatty acids are the best in boosting your child’s brain development. Since this fruit is super soft, expect some mess.
7. Cooked or uncooked Tofu is perfect.
This is an excellent plant-based protein source and makes as perfect finger food. But for this, try and get firm Tofu; it is still soft enough for your baby to chew on and firm enough for her to pick up and put in her mouth. The silken or soft Tofu might be frustrating to hold.
8. Some cooked vegetables
This is yet another excellent finger food for your little one. Since you still want to offer all the right nutrients for your little one, consider steaming or lightly roast them till soft. Remember, these need to be in tiny pieces that make it easy for her to chew on. Cauliflower, soft carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, these are perfect options to start with.
9. Say cheese
Cheese is also an excellent go-to option; this is if your baby doesn’t seem to be having any dairy allergies. Introduce small cubes of cheese anytime from 6 months, ensure the cheese is posturized and not sticky.
10. Baked goodies like homemade muffins
I say homemade muffins because you can control the sugar level. Store-bought might be overly sweet, but homemade can be loaded with serval healthy ingredients. For starters, go for whole wheat flour or oat flour, then for sweetening, try some apple sauce, a healthy flavoring agent can be mashed bananas, or you could grate in some zucchini in the butter. Once these baked goodies are ready, you can break them off into small pieces for her to nibble on.
The vital thing to note about when is baby ready for finger foods
Your baby will immediately show when she is ready to go to the next level of her eating adventures, and for that, keep a close eye on the cues she sends your way. If you notice she likes picking up toys and directing them to her mouth or insists on holding the spoon as you feed her, she is ready for the finger foods. But expect this to happen between 7-9 months, however, this could be earlier or later depending on your child, do not rush this milestone; it will happen when she is ready.