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Babies try everything they see others do. When they see the family eat a certain way, they want to imitate, too. You can start your little one on the journey of eating independently by introducing him to finger foods. Eating tiny bits of food items is the first step towards your baby using his tiny little hands to eat. Finger foods help them develop their fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination also. Therefore, you must introduce finger foods when the time is right for your child. Read this article to know when and how you can introduce finger foods to your baby, and some palatable finger food ideas for your little one.
Video: 10 Healthy Finger Foods for Babies
What Are Finger Foods?
Easy-to-eat food items or titbits that babies can pick up and eat by themselves are referred to as finger foods. Active babies who are always on the move often attempt to eat food by themselves. Finger foods can be a great option for them to fill their tiny tummies and gain energy on the go. These foods are also many mothers’ go-to to make their babies happy.
When Should You Introduce It to Your Baby?
Some parents introduce finger foods when babies are six months old. However, you would know when your little one is ready by observing him. Typically, between 8 and 9 months, your baby would start showing indications that he is ready to eat all by himself. Initially, it will be challenging because finger foods for toddlers mean a whole lot of mess with their limited hand-eye coordination and easy distraction. Your baby will pick food in his hands and throw it around with very little going into his mouths. Eventually, he will learn to use his thumbs and forefingers to hold the food. This is a fine motor skill and is referred to as a pincer grasp.
How to Introduce Finger Foods to Your Baby?
To start off, you can use a high chair and give your little one a few pieces of finger food in a plate or a bowl. Give him very little, and you can fill his plate after he completes eating what’s already served or if he asks for more.
What Are the Best Finger Foods for Infants?
Mothers must always aim to give healthy finger foods to kids. It is also advisable to give them food that can be cut into small pieces and cooked well till it is soft so that it is easy for your baby to chew and digest. If you are concerned about food allergies, you can consult your doctor before you start with finger foods. Let us look at some of the best finger foods for infants:
- Fruits make very healthy finger foods. You can use slices of banana, mangoes, papayas, muskmelons, watermelons, sliced grapes, kiwi slices, and apple slices. You can mix small quantities of all these fruits together or give them one at a time.
- Steamed or boiled vegetables like green peas, cauliflower florets, beans, carrots, and pumpkins with a pinch of salt.
- You can also bake vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, and sauté them in ghee to enhance the taste.
- Thin tomato wedges and very thin cucumber pieces will give them a taste for raw vegetables.
- Boiled corn and tiny pieces of steamed baby corn can be given, too.
- The little one would love to munch on soft vegetable paranthas, which can be cut into tiny pieces.
- You child may love to nibble lightly toasted bread.
- Small cubes of tofu are soft to chew, too.
- Well-cooked pasta spirals cut into small pieces will be easy to handle for the tiny tot.
- Hard-boiled egg or scrambled eggs can be cut into tiny pieces and given. Please note that it is advisable to check with your doctor regarding allergens. Egg yolks can be introduced at eight months while egg whites should be introduced after a year.
- Tiny pieces of cooked chicken, turkey, or other soft meat are great to give them a taste of non-vegetarian foods.
- Mashed stewed prunes can be a good addition to the finger foods.
- Steamed or broiled fish is another option. Remember to skip fish with high mercury content.
- You could also try boiled, well-cooked beans, which are full of protein and other nutrients.
- Additionally, you can try home-made healthy nuggets and fries made with vegetables, too.
Finger Foods to Avoid
Although you can try varieties of food for your baby, it is good to avoid some foods that cause choking and some that are unhealthy. Following are some of the foods that you must avoid.
- Pieces of raw vegetables must be avoided.
- Large chunks of fruits and vegetables must also be avoided as they can cause choking.
- Remove seeds from plums, peaches, and watermelons before you feed them to the baby. Avoid feeding seeds like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as they can get stuck in the windpipe and cause serious problems.
- Avoid feeding nuts to babies.
- Avoid popcorn and pretzels.
- Avoid chewing gum and other jelly-like food items.
- Avoid marshmallows and candies.
- Peanut butter can be hard for the baby because of its sticky consistency. Peanuts can cause allergies and should be introduced in later years.
- Avoid raisins.
- Unroasted bread can also cause choking.
- Avoid sweet items because once your child gets used to it, he would avoid healthy items.
- Avoid fatty items like potato chips and other savouries.
What Steps Can You Take While Feeding Finger Foods?
Ensure your baby is properly seated in a high chair. It is good to sit down and be present while the baby is eating. It is also good to sit down and eat with the baby. Here are some pointers:
- Initially, self-feeding is sure to be a mess with food scattered everywhere. However, your child will slowly learn to put the food in his mouth. So, have patience, and to minimise waste, give him less food. The amount can be increased depending on how hungry he gets.
- Ensure that you remove all seeds and also peel the fruits.
- Avoid hard foods that cause choking.
- Prepare foods that have little or no salt or sugar.
It might seem quite a challenge to come up with interesting finger food recipes for your little one. However, you can get creative and experiment a little with the foods your child has been introduced to already. This will give your munchkin the experience of tasting a variety of food, too. Just ensure you follow some of the tips mentioned above to ensure the finger foods you choose or prepare for your tiny tot are soft or appropriately cooked for him to chew and digest.
Also Read: 15 Boredom Busting Activities for Toddlers