Finger Foods for Baby

Couple in living room with baby smiling

Around nine months of age, many children are ready and willing to start finger foods. They have been gnawing on crackers and cookies for awhile in their chubby fists, but now, with the development of the pincher grasp, most babies are ready to take on the wide world of foods.

Another development at nine months for many babies is a new stage of independence. Gone are the days of passive babies helpfully opening their mouths for each delicious spoonful. Now your baby wants to eat by himself – whether he can hold a spoon or not. Sometimes you can buy some extra time by offering him one spoon while you hold another. Other times you must simply give in and find ways to get his nutritional elements in him via finger foods.

First Finger Foods

The first finger foods would be more aptly names “fist foods.” Babies can grab a cracker or biscuit and gnaw on it with their gums starting around six months. As their eating skills progress, you can expand fist foods by adding baked sticks of fruits and vegetables. Baked apple sticks without the peel are soft enough for baby to mash with his gums and long enough for him to hold on his own.

Actual Finger Foods

When your baby is able to actually pick up small items from his plate between his thumb and index finger, he is well on his way to self feeding. The first small finger foods should be something that dissolves easily in baby’s mouth. Small pieces of cereal or puffy morsels designed for this purpose are the choice of many parents. Your baby might be able to pick up the tiny pieces, but until he can gum them up small enough to swallow properly, you should hold off on introducing anything new.

Healthy Finger Foods

Many parents will find that finger foods come just in the knick of time to save their sanity and their child’s nutrition. Some babies absolutely reject being spoon-fed and others will only tolerate it. These babies greatly prefer the independence of finger foods. This means that many parents have the new challenge of finding ways to slip the nutritional requirements of the day into an appealing and healthy array of finger foods.

Grains

The grains of finger foods are some of the easiest. Dry cereal, whole grain crackers and toast all can supply these grains. If your baby won’t take oatmeal or rice cereal, you can try wholesome oatmeal cookies with the formula in a cup or bottle. Be creative, and be sure to find a good source of iron if the cereal was your original source.

Fruits and Vegetables

Many fruits and vegetables can be cooked and diced to make them soft enough for baby to chew with his gums. Others, such as applesauce, can be spread onto a piece of toast. Some baby food manufacturers now offer diced finger foods in jars that can be scooped out with a spoon or picked up with tiny fingers. Fruit cocktails or diced fruit stored in water, juice or light syrup might be another easy way to get fruit into your baby’s diet. Bananas are simple to cut and easy for baby to chew.

Protein

Protein can come from meat or other foods such as cheese. Cut cheese into tiny pieces and opt for cheeses like Colby, jack or cheddar that are soft enough for baby to chew yet firm enough to pick up on his own. Mozzarella cheese is also a good supplier of vitamin A in addition to calcium and protein.

Meats such as hamburger can be cooked and crumbled small enough for babies to eat easily. Egg yolks can be cut up as another good source of protein. Meats that are harder to chew such as steak or pork should be put on hold until your baby has a full set of teeth to chew with.

Dairy

Dairy can be served through a variety of cut cheese cubes or in a cup. Your baby will still most likely take a bottle through the first year, and more milk can be served in a cup at mealtimes or while she is playing. To fulfill her daily dairy requirements, your baby needs only to drink roughly twenty-four ounces of milk after six months and that includes the milk or formula used in cereals.

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