Soft foods for baby to eat
Best Finger Foods for Babies: The Ultimate Guide
How exciting that your baby is about to graduate from mushy foods to finger foods! This is a big step in your little one’s development. However, you may be wondering when’s the right time to start finger foods, and how to tell that your baby is ready. We’ll answer all these questions and more, plus give you a list of the best finger foods to introduce to your baby first.
Introducing Finger Foods to Your Baby
So, when can babies eat finger foods? You can start to give your baby finger foods around the time they’re able to sit up independently and can bring their hands to their mouth. This may happen between the ages of 8 months old and 9 months old, but your baby may be ready a little sooner or later than this time. Around this time, you may also notice that your baby is developing their pincer grasp and may be making chewing motions. These are both great indications that your baby’s ready for finger foods. Moreover, using their fingers to pick up foods will further develop your baby’s fine motor skills. Some parents who adopt the baby-led weaning approach may start offering finger foods to their infants as early as 6 months old. This method skips spoon-feeding with solid foods and instead lets your baby take the lead in self-feeding with finger foods. Some believe this approach can decrease fussiness when it comes to introducing new foods, including finger foods, to your baby. Speak to your child’s healthcare provider if this method is something you’d like to try. Giving your baby finger foods can help your little one learn to feed themself, just one step toward gaining independence. Self-feeding can be great fun for your baby. Even if much of the food doesn’t end up in your baby’s mouth, the fact that they’re exploring this new frontier is an accomplishment to be proud of.
First Finger Foods for Your Baby
As you begin choosing finger foods for your baby, check out the following ideas:
Steamed veggies like sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas
Soft, ripe fruits like bananas, berries, peaches (peeled), mangoes (peeled)
Whole-grain breakfast cereals (without nuts, clusters, or chunks)
Whole-grain pasta (cooked well)
Whole-grain crackers or wafers like teething biscuits
Soft meats like chicken
Be sure that any of the above finger foods are cut into small pieces. You don’t want your baby eating a piece that’s too big to swallow. And, make sure to watch them while eating.
Finger Food Safety
During this time babies are more likely to swallow foods without chewing them, whether they have a few baby teeth coming in or they have no teeth. Avoid giving any finger foods that require a grinding action to chew (this type of chewing is typically mastered around the age of 4), as these may pose a choking risk. Offer finger foods that are soft, easy to swallow, and broken or cut into pieces that your baby cannot choke on. A good rule of thumb is that soft and mushy finger foods are safe for your baby. Small, round, coin-shaped, hard, chewy, crunchy, slippery, or sticky foods may lead to choking. Here are some foods to avoid offering your baby when they start on finger foods:
Peanut butter (in chunks)
Meat (in chunks)
Cheese (in chunks)
Raw veggies (in large chunks or round shapes), including celery sticks, carrot sticks, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and peas
Raw hard fruit (in large chunks or round shapes), including apples, pears, and grapes
Candies (hard, gooey, or sticky)
Hot dogs or meat sticks.
There are ways you can still give some of the above foods while making them easier to eat and less hazardous to swallow. For example:
Grapes or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Creamy peanut butter spread thinly on whole-grain bread that’s cut into small squares
Hot dog, cut lengthwise and then cut into small 1/2-inch pieces.
Note on Food Allergies
Medical experts once recommended that parents avoid feeding their babies eggs, fish, and peanut butter since babies may be allergic to these foods. However, it’s now recommended that you introduce these foods early—while keeping a close watch for any reactions—since this approach can help reduce your child’s chances of developing food allergies. Before introducing peanut butter or peanut products, consult with your baby’s healthcare provider. Your baby is more likely to be allergic to these foods if
food allergies run in your family
your baby is known to have an egg allergy
your baby has eczema.
The Bottom Line
It’s time to introduce finger foods to your baby when you see that they’re able to sit up on their own, start bringing their hands to their mouth, and can use a pincer grasp to hold onto small items, like finger foods. This development happens around the age of 8 or 9 months old, but you may see it sooner or later in your baby. In the beginning, you’ll want to introduce finger foods that are soft and easy to swallow, since babies at this age tend to swallow instead of chew even if they have a few baby teeth. Think steamed veggies and soft fresh fruits. You can also introduce whole-grain bread, crackers, cereal, or pasta if they’re cut into small pieces. Chicken, mild cheese, and scrambled eggs are also great options when served in small pieces. Avoid hard foods like raw veggies and fruits, as well as chunks of nut butter, cheese, and meat. Whole nuts and seeds are not recommended, nor are chewing gum, candies, hot dogs, or meat sticks. All these items can pose a choking hazard.
Transitioning to finger foods is a big step in your baby’s development and independence. Letting your baby self-feed with finger foods may be a bit messy at first, but you’ll both get the hang of it. Learn more about developmental milestones for your 9-month-old baby.
13 Best Finger Foods for Baby
Introducing finger foods for baby is an exciting and nerve-racking time. Between the mess, possible allergies and potential choking hazards, it’s enough to give some parents white knuckles as they hover over the high chair. But while you should certainly exercise caution, there are lots of great baby finger food ideas that will make mealtime fun and nutritious, and let your growing child practice the important art of self-feeding.
In this article:
When can babies eat finger foods?
Baby finger food safety
How to introduce new finger foods for baby
Best finger foods for baby
When Can Babies Eat Finger Foods?
There’s no hard and fast rule in terms of when babies can start eating finger foods, says William Dietz, MD, PhD, director of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and co-editor of the American Pediatric Association’s (AAP) Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know. Rather than focusing on baby’s age, says Dietz, “the first indicator you should look for is that the baby is interested.” So how can you tell when baby’s interest is piqued? Reaching for the food as you’re feeding her, grabbing the bowl or spoon, putting the spoon in her mouth and fussing when she sees you eat (because she wants in!) are all signs your child may be ready. “Babies generally want to feed themselves,” Dietz says. “That’s a normal drive.”
Being able to sit independently is another good clue that babies are physically ready to try finger foods, says Susan M. McCormack, MA, senior speech language pathologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a board-certified specialist in swallowing and swallowing disorders. If they can sit up in the high chair, then they might be ready to try their hand at finger foods.
Some guides suggest waiting to introduce baby finger foods until your child has mastered a pincer grasp—the ability to pick up small objects between the thumb and forefinger—but Dietz says this isn’t totally necessary. “Initially when children start to feed themselves, they don’t have a pincer grasp,” he says. “So they’re using their whole hand and putting their hand in their mouth. And that’s fine.”
If you’re waiting for your infant to sprout teeth before moving on from purees, think again. “Babies don’t need teeth to learn to eat solids and learn to chew,” McCormack says. Those strong little gums are perfectly capable of mashing up soft solids—if you’ve ever let baby teethe on your finger, then you have some idea of just how powerful they are!
Baby Finger Food Safety
When choosing the best finger foods for baby—whether you’re starting at 6 months or 9 months—experts agree that it’s best to begin with small pieces of soft food that dissolve easily.
As your infant grows and becomes comfortable eating finger foods, you can branch out, McCormack says. “As a baby develops better tongue patterns to control food pieces as well as more mature chewing, he can better ‘chew’ the foods that break apart, like pieces of fruits and vegetables. A one-year-old can also bite off pieces of food that a 6-month-old can’t.”
Avoid giving baby finger foods that are large, sticky or don’t dissolve easily, because they’re potential choking hazards, Dietz warns. He suggests steering clear of foods like hot dogs, carrots, nuts, grapes, popcorn, candy and globs of peanut butter.
Another thing to keep in mind when you’re picking out the best finger foods for babies is that a lot of adult foods—particularly snacks—can be super salty. “Often parents will doctor a food so it appeals to their tastes, and their taste may have bigger amounts of sodium than a baby’s taste,” Dietz says. When preparing food for baby, leave out the salt whenever possible. (You can always add it separately to your portion if you’re cooking for the family).
How to Introduce New Finger Foods for Baby
When babies first start on finger foods, breast milk and formula will still be their main source of nutrition, followed by purees. You should continue to spoon-feed your child initially, “but during the feeding process, they should also be allowed to feed themselves,” Dietz says. Put some finger food on her high-chair tray and let her try to get it into her mouth in between the spoonfuls of food you’re feeding her. If she gets really frustrated, go ahead and help her out.
Most important, follow your child’s cues and “let your baby be the guide,” McCormack says. If he doesn’t respond positively, take a step back and try again later. But keep in mind that babies often crinkle up their faces when they try something new, which can look like they don’t like something, Dietz says. It can take up to 20 times before they’re used to certain foods. “Parents shouldn’t force food, but they should be persistent in offering,” Dietz says.
McCormack also suggests easing into finger foods by offering thicker purees with a bit of texture to them. “Try alternating bites of the smooth puree with a slightly thicker or mashed food to help your baby get used to the new textures in her mouth,” she says.
Remember, too, that this is a messy process. Parents might want to lay newspaper or an easy-to-clean vinyl tablecloth on the floor, since it’ll be a while (like, years) before your kid manages to get more food in his mouth than on the floor, Dietz advises.
Finally, never leave baby unattended while she’s eating, and keep an eye out for signs of choking. It may be tempting to hold off on introducing finger foods until your child is older, but helping baby develop this skill has multiple benefits, McCormack says, including “development of independence, fine motor skills and self-feeding skills, as well as development of oral patterns to support texture progression.” Whether you start baby finger foods at 6 or 9 months, just follow baby’s lead and let him have fun with it.
Best Finger Foods for Baby
If you’re looking for baby finger food ideas, think about options that are soft, small and easily gummed. Here are a few of the best finger foods for baby to get started—including finger foods for baby with no teeth! While the same finger foods are as appropriate for a 6-month-old as they are for a one-year-old baby, you can begin to offer slightly larger pieces that they can bite off themselves as they become more confident. Stick with these healthy options, and you’ll start baby off on the right path for healthy eating.
Image: The Bump
1. Puffs and dry cereal. Puffs and O-shaped dry cereal are some of the most popular first finger foods for good reason: They let baby practice the pincer grasp by picking up one at a time. And as McCormack explains, they also “mix well with saliva and are easy for the infant to manage in their mouth without choking.”
2. Teething biscuits and lightly toasted bread. Teething biscuits and small pieces of lightly toasted bread are another great starter finger food, since they soften quickly. Just note that some breads can turn gummy and stick in baby’s mouth; lightly toast the bread and cut into very small pieces to avoid a choking hazard. As baby gets older (around 9 to 12 months), you can offer slightly larger pieces or serve bread topped with mashed banana or avocado, or a super-thin layer of hummus or peanut butter.
3. Scrambled eggs. Doctors used to advise waiting to introduce eggs, but the AAP now recommends early exposure to potentially allergenic foods. Which is great news, since scrambled eggs are an ideal early finger food! Keep your love of runny yolks to yourself for now, however, and cook those eggs thoroughly, cut into small pieces and avoid adding salt.
4. Soft fruit. Very ripe fruit is naturally soft, making them some of the best finger foods for babies. Ripe banana, peach, watermelon, raspberries, blueberries and cantaloupe cut into small pieces are all great finger food options.
5. Avocado. A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids—which can help boost baby’s brain development—avocados are, like puffs, often one the first baby finger foods, even when your little one has no teeth. Be warned: Avocado can get messy fast, but it’s well worth it (and can result in some hilarious pics for the baby album).
6. Pasta. Though recipes often recommend cooking pasta al dente, when it comes to feeding baby, you’ll want to slightly overcook it so it’s nice and soft. To start, try small pasta shapes like orzo or mini shells, or cut up fusilli or penne. Initially serve it plain, but as baby is introduced to more foods you can toss the pasta in a little butter, olive oil or low-sodium tomato sauce.
7. Tofu. Whether cooked or uncooked, tofu is a wonderful plant-based source of protein and a perfect finger food for babies. Opt for firm tofu, which is still quite soft, as opposed to soft or silken tofu, which will likely fall apart in baby’s hand and frustrate her.
8. Cooked vegetables. Though it will be a while before baby can hit the crudités platter, cooked vegetables make excellent baby finger foods. To get the most nutrients out of your vegetables, steam or roast them until soft, and, of course, cut them into small pieces. Try sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower or beets (opt for yellow beets for less mess) to start. As baby gets bigger, you can offer steamed carrot sticks or peeled, roasted sweet potato wedges.
9. Cheese. If baby has shown no signs of a dairy allergy, then it’s perfectly safe to introduce soft cubes of cheese as early as 6 months. Opt for small bites of a pasteurized cheese that’s soft but not overly sticky or stinky, like Monterey Jack or cheddar.
10. Beans. Looking for more protein-rich, vegetarian baby finger foods? Try beans. Opt for canned, low-sodium beans for convenience, or soak and cook dry beans yourself to save money (they’ll freeze well too!). When first introducing beans, smash them just a bit between your fingers before serving to baby.
11. Homemade muffins. While store-bought muffins are often loaded with sugar, there are plenty of healthy muffin recipes out there. Use whole-wheat flour, sweeten with applesauce instead of sugar and add healthy ingredients like mashed banana or grated zucchini. Bake in a mini muffin tin or use a standard-size tin, and, once baked, break off into small pieces for baby.
12. Meat. After soft foods, diced chicken breast and ground beef are pediatrician-approved next-stage finger foods for baby. Just make sure they’re thoroughly cooked and cut into very small pieces.
13. Fish. Fish is another allergenic food that doctors now say can be introduced before baby is a year old. Be sure it’s thoroughly cooked, and opt for a low-mercury fish like flounder, cod or salmon. Most important, make sure to remove any tiny bones.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
Plus, more from The Bump:
Baby-Led Weaning Basics
Why Variety Matters in Baby’s First Foods
The Dos and Don’ts of Homemade Baby Food
Menu for schoolchildren: how and what to feed a child?
/ All materials
Do I need to feed my child before school?
If you have porridge for breakfast, which one is preferable?
Is it true that it is better not to give semolina to a child?
How should schoolchildren eat properly at lunch and dinner?
What to eat before tests and exams?
Adult products to improve brain function - green tea, chocolate, nuts - will not work for a child. And there is no special diet for this case. The source of omega-3 fatty acids necessary for the brain is fish. And do not forget about taking children's multivitamin preparations. nine0003
What foods should be given during physical activity?
Is the menu different for junior and senior students?
What "baby" foods should be avoided?
How to make a child love vegetables?
What do schoolchildren around the world eat?
Known for its culinary delights, France offers students slightly more sophisticated options including brie, steak and apple pie, just to name a few. At the same time, following strict nutritional rules regarding portion sizes, food composition and cooking methods. Snacks containing more than 15% fat may be served no more than 4 times per 20 training days. Salads and even fried guinea fowl regularly appear on French school menus. nine0003
Since 1997, all children in the country have had access to free school meals. They consist of a hot dish, salad bar, bread and drinks, plus vegetarian options available to all. Desserts and sodas are not served, and pizza and deep-fried items have been removed from the menu in recent years. They have been replaced by healthy and sustainable food options: stew or vegetables with potatoes, pasta with sauce, etc. And, of course, knäckebröd, the famous bran rye crispbread. nine0003
America is a country known for its abundance of junk food and fast food outlets on every corner. In US Schools The National School Lunch Program provides low-cost or free school meals to 31 million students in more than 100,000 schools. However, tight budgets have meant that the lunches served in some (but not all) schools in the United States are prepared from processed foods and do not contain sufficient amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. These meals often look like chicken nuggets with fries, sausage and bun, green peas, and for dessert, chocolate chip cookies or jelly. nine0003
August 27 2021
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7 foods that are undesirable for children under one year old
Of course, modern mothers know that sausages should not be given to babies, soda and cream cakes. What else can not eat children under one year old? We made a list of 7 less obvious foods.
Excess salt in the diet is harmful to the baby's kidneys and can lead to swelling and dehydration. Of course, a lack of salt is also not useful, but in real life, with a normal diet, it practically does not occur: salt is contained in sufficient quantities in most foods, and there is no need to add salt on purpose. And if for us, adults, baby purees and cereals without salt and sugar seem tasteless and disgusting, don’t worry, for a baby, the situation is completely different. nine0003
The taste perception of young children is not yet spoiled by excessively sweet and salty foods, flavors and flavor enhancers. If your child refuses mashed broccoli, then most likely he just does not like the taste and texture of broccoli, and not at all the lack of salt.
Everyone knows the dangers of excess sugar - dental problems, obesity, associated cardiovascular diseases and the risk of developing diabetes. However, it can be very difficult to refuse a cookie or candy to a child familiar with the sweet taste, and tears are usually inevitable. What to do? nine0003
The secret is simple - introduce foods with added sugar into your baby's diet as late as possible, at the earliest in the year, although it is better to wait until two years. The National Nutrition Optimization Program for Children aged 1 to 3 years recommends limiting sugar in the diet of toddlers 1 to 3 years of age to 25-30 grams per day, taking into account the sugar found in special baby foods, juices, yogurts, etc.
It would seem that honey is a wonderful and healthy alternative to sugar, so why is it not recommended for babies under one year old? In fact, the reasons some. First, honey can contain spores bacteria Clostridium botulinum. The immune system of adults and children older people can easily cope with them, but in babies they can cause a deadly disease called infantile botulism. nine0003
Secondly, honey is the strongest allergen, so it is better to postpone acquaintance with it until a later age.
4. Fruit juices and drinks
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released in 2017 New recommendations for adequate intake of fruit juices in infants, young children and adolescents who begin with advice to completely avoid fruit juice for feeding infants life. According to AAP, excessive juice consumption can lead to diarrhea, overeating or, conversely, malnutrition, as well as to occurrence of dental caries*. At the same time, babies can and should be offered Whole fruit, mashed or pureed. nine0003
A various fruit drinks and nectars in addition to natural sugar from fruits often contain added sugar, which makes them perfectly unsuitable for feeding babies up to a year.
Breeding of juices and nectars with water does not completely solve the problem, since it does not reduce dental risks. If your child refuses to drink water, try compotes and fruit or herbal teas.
5. Foods that are easy to choke on
The danger of a product to children is determined by several characteristics: consistency, shape, and size. Most often babies gagging slippery, round, sticky, fibrous and hard products. nine0003
The most dangerous are all round and large enough to block the airways: lozenges, grapes, cherry tomatoes, nuts**. Not far behind in sad dangerous food rating other candies (especially sticky ones), fish bones and meat and, in fact, the meat itself ***.
Remember that theoretically a child can choke on any food, so never leave your baby unsupervised eating.
6. Egg white
Have you ever wondered why in all complementary feeding schemes is it the yolk, not the whole egg? Nothing surprising: egg protein is one of the strongest allergens. Up to a year is better limit the baby to only the yolk, and introduce the protein a little later.
Only make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked. Raw and half-raw eggs may contain a bacterium that causes salmonellosis, a disease deadly for young children.
7. Cow and goat milk nine0005
Surprised? Whole cow's milk is the main cause of allergies in children under one year old. In addition, it contains a large amount of lactose, milk sugar, which some babies have difficulty digesting due to the fact that their gastrointestinal tract is not yet sufficiently developed. There are studies linking the early introduction of animal milk into the diet as a substitute for mother's milk or infant formula with an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia and type 1 diabetes. ****
Goat milk is actually not much different from cow milk, goat and cow are evolutionarily close, goat milk proteins are very similar in structure to cow proteins, and almost as often cause allergies.
It is advisable to introduce cow's milk into the diet of a child not earlier than 1 year.