When your baby is ready for finger foods a whole new world of feeding options opens up for her and for you. Feeding your baby purees can be time consuming if you make your own and expensive if you buy them in jars.
Once your baby is ready for finger foods you can start feeding her similar foods to what the rest of the family is eating, which is easier on you and often more appealing for your baby.
When Is Your Baby Ready for Finger Foods?
Some babies are ready for finger foods earlier than others but typically around 8 to 9 months is the average age. One sign to look for is if your baby is starting to develop her pincer grasp, which is when she can pick things up using her thumb and index finger.
Your baby should also be able to sit up completely unassisted without any help from you before you start feeding finger foods. It’s very important to carefully supervise your baby when you start to feed her finger foods.
The potential for choking is always there and she needs to get used to eating chunkier foods. The main point is to start off slowly and follow your baby’s lead.
If she seems to be having problems with chunkier foods then take a step back and give her smaller pieces or return to purees for a few weeks.
Even if your baby doesn’t have any or many teeth yet you can still start offering finger foods if she seems otherwise ready.
As long as the food is soft babies can mash food in a chewing motion between their hard gums and get the job done.
Fun Finger Foods to Start With
Fruit is a great first finger food. Make sure you start with soft fruit such as bananas. Harder fruits such as apples or firm pears can be cooked to make them soft.
The pieces should be very small to avoid a choking hazard and so that your baby can get used to feeding herself and chewing up her own food.
Be patient with her as she’ll most likely be fascinated with this new development and play with her food before eating it. This is perfectly natural since your baby will want to explore these new tastes and textures.
You may want to start with foods that your baby has previously had as a puree. The taste is familiar to her and it just looks and feels a little different.
If your baby has had the food before you can also be fairly certain she is not allergic to it. Vegetables also make great first finger foods you just have to make sure you cook most of them first to soften them.
Avoid Raw Vegetables
Raw vegetables actually aren’t recommended until a child is approximately 3 years old. They can be very hard to chew up into small pieces of pose a choking hazard.
Cooked carrots, avocados, cooked broccoli, cooked beets, and peas all are good choices. Now that your baby is eating finger foods you can also offer a variety of foods at each meal, letting her choose what she likes.
Any amount of independence you can give your baby goes a long way to building confidence and independence. Remember, your baby should never be left unattended when eating.
Some people recommend that you wait until your baby is 12 months old before introducing wheat but unless you have a history of family allergies it’s probably fine.
It is wise to always check with your doctor for current recommendations. If you’re fine giving your baby wheat then cutting up pieces of lightly toasted plain bread is another great finger food, as are Cheerios.
Cheerios are great for baby to practice her pincer grasp and easy to eat.
Processed Baby Finger Foods
There are many packaged baby finger foods available on the market today. While you may want to try and feed your baby natural foods as much as possible these are a great option for on the go parents and can be a special treat for your baby.
Most of these foods give age recommendations on the package which can be comforting for parents and there are many organic and natural options. One baby favorite is yogurt melts.
These tasty puffs melt in baby’s mouth making them a great finger food.
Feeding Your Baby Table Food
Many new parents are worried that their baby will end up a picky toddler who will only eat a small handful of foods and require a separate meal prepared from the rest of the family.
One way to try and avoid this problem (although there are no surefire solutions) is to feed your baby what everyone else is eating as soon as possible.
If you love your food with a lot of spice consider leaving a portion out with no or little spice just for your baby. Having a salad for dinner? Take some of the same vegetables and cook them up for your baby.
This will help to widen your baby’s palate and give her the sense that she’s eating what the family eats.