When are many babies ready for finger foods

Finger Foods for Babies (for Parents)

When babies begin feeding themselves — a new task most really enjoy — they'll find that they like trying new tastes and textures.

By the time they're 9 months old, most babies have developed the fine motor skills — the small, precise movements — needed to pick up small pieces of food and feed themselves. You may notice that yours can take hold of food (and other small objects) between forefinger and thumb in a pincer grasp. The pincer grasp starts out a little clumsy, but with practice soon becomes a real skill.

Let your child self-feed as much as possible. You'll still help by spoon-feeding cereal and other important dietary elements. But encouraging finger feeding helps your child develop independent, healthy eating habits.

Finger feeding — and using utensils a little later — gives babies some control over what they eat and how much. Sometimes they'll eat the food, sometimes not, and that's all part of the process of learning self-regulation. Even little kids can tell when they're hungry or full, so let them learn to recognize and respond to these cues.

What Should a Baby Eat?

Now that they're joining the rest of the family for meals, older babies are ready to try more table foods.

This means more work for whoever makes the meals for the family, but dishes often can be adapted for the baby. For instance, your little one can have some of the zucchini you're making for dinner. Cook that serving a bit longer — until it's soft — and cut it into pieces small enough for the baby to handle. Pieces of ripe banana, well-cooked pasta, and small pieces of chicken are other good choices.

Before giving your child a finger food, try a bite first and ask yourself:

  • Does it melt in the mouth? Some dry cereals and crackers that are light and flaky will melt in the mouth.
  • Is it cooked enough so that it mushes easily? Well-cooked veggies and fruits will mush easily, as will canned fruit and vegetables (choose ones without added sugar or salt).
  • Is it soft? Cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and small pieces of tofu are good examples.
  • Can it be gummed? Pieces of ripe banana and well-cooked pasta can be gummed.
  • Is it small enough? Food should be cut into small pieces. The sizes will vary depending on the food's texture. A piece of chicken, for instance, needs to be smaller than a piece of watermelon, which even a pair of baby gums will quickly smash.

If your child doesn't like a food, don't let that stop you from offering it at future meals. Kids are naturally slow to accept new tastes and textures. For example, some are more sensitive to texture and may reject coarse foods, such as meat. When introducing meat, it's helpful to start with well-cooked ground meats or shreds of thinly sliced deli meats, such as turkey.

Present your baby with a variety of foods, even some that he or she didn't seem to like the week before. Don't force your baby to eat, but realize that it can take 10 or more tries before a child will accept a new food.

Finger Foods to Avoid

Finger feeding is fun and rewarding for older babies. But avoid foods that can cause choking and those with little nutritional value.

Choking Hazards

Parents and caregivers can help prevent choking by supervising the baby during eating. Foods that are choking hazards include:

  • pieces of raw vegetables or hard fruits
  • whole grapes, berries, cherry or grape tomatoes (instead, peel and slice or cut in quarters)
  • raisins and other dried fruit
  • peanuts, nuts, and seeds
  • large scoops of peanut butter and other nut or seed butters (use only a thin layer)
  • whole hot dogs and kiddie sausages (peel and cut these in very small pieces)
  • untoasted bread, especially white bread that sticks together
  • chunks of cheese or meat
  • candy (hard candy, jelly beans, gummies, chewing gum)
  • popcorn, pretzels, corn chips, and other snack foods
  • marshmallows
Hold the Sweets

At first bite, your baby probably will love the taste of cookies, cake, and other sweets, but don't give them now. Your little one needs nutrient-rich foods, not the empty calories found in desserts and high-fat snacks, like potato chips.

It's tempting to want to see the baby's reactions to some of these foods, but now is not the time. Grandparents and others may want to rush your baby into trying triple-chocolate cake or some other family favorite. Politely and firmly explain that the baby isn't ready for those foods. You can blame this tough love on your child's doctor — the doctor won't mind.

When babies can start finger foods and the best finger foods for babies

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Between the ages of 8 and 12 months, your baby will start practicing their pincer grasp, allowing you to add finger foods to their diet. Introducing a wide variety of foods will set your baby up for a lifetime of healthy and adventurous eating. Giving small pieces that are soft enough to easily chew will reduce the risk of choking. Try giving your baby O-shaped cereal, cubes of cheese, diced fruit and roasted vegetables, and bite-sized pieces of soft-cooked meat.

Photo credit: Thayer Allyson Gowdy for BabyCenter

Eating finger food is fun for your baby, and an important step toward independence that also helps them develop their fine motor skills and coordination. Any bite-size, easy-to-eat piece of food that your baby can pick up and eat on their own qualifies as finger food. Ready to make this leap in your baby's solid food journey? Here's what you need to know.

When to give your baby finger foods

Your baby will be ready for finger foods around 9 months old, when they can grab things and bring their hands to their mouth. They'll let you know they're ready, too – by grabbing the spoon you're feeding them with or snatching food off your plate. By the time your baby is 12 months old, they'll be skilled at picking up food and putting it in their mouth.

Some parents introduce finger foods at 6 months using the baby-led weaning technique, where you skip the spoon-feeding phase and let your baby feed themself soft finger foods. If you're interested in this method, learn more about BLW and the best baby-led weaning foods.

Don't worry if your baby won't eat finger foods at first. If they seem to be struggling to feed themself, they may just not be ready yet, in which case give it a week or so before trying again.

Or they may need more time to get used to new textures. You may have to try many times before your baby accepts a new kind of food, and that's normal.

It's also normal for your baby to gag when first starting finger foods. Gagging is a natural reflex that helps prevent choking, and it also helps babies learn how to chew. Don't panic if your baby gags; let them work it out themself and keep an eye on them to be sure they aren't choking.

Starting finger foods

To help ease the transition between purees and finger foods, give your baby flavors they're already familiar with – try pieces of very soft, ripe banana if they like banana puree, or well-cooked pieces of sweet potato if they've enjoyed sweet potato puree before.

Start by scattering four or five pieces of food onto your baby's highchair tray or plate during a mealtime. Add more pieces of food as your baby eats them. Feed your baby in a highchair rather than in another place – such as a car seat or stroller – to reduce the risk of choking.

Early on, your baby may just rake food into their hand and bring it to their mouth, but eventually, they'll master the pincer grasp and use their thumb and forefinger to pick up food.

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Your baby may have a good appetite, but they probably don't have many teeth, so start with foods that they can gum or that will dissolve easily in their mouth. As they grow into a toddler, they'll get better at handling various foods. You'll soon be able to serve them bite-sized pieces of whatever you're eating.

The best finger foods for babies

Not sure what finger foods to start with? Here's a list of favorites:

  • O-shaped toasted oat cereal or other unsweetened cereal
  • Long strips of lightly toasted bread or bagels (spread with vegetable puree, nut butter, guacamole, or hummus for extra nutrients)
  • Slices of banana or other very ripe peeled and pitted fruit, like mango, plum, pear, peach, cantaloupe, or seedless watermelon
  • Small cubes of tofu
  • Well-cooked pasta spirals, cut into pieces
  • Small chunks of soft cheese
  • Chopped hard-boiled or scrambled egg
  • Mashed, stewed prunes
  • Small pieces of well-cooked vegetables, like carrots, peas, zucchini, potato, or sweet potato
  • Steamed apples or carrots cut into long, thin strips
  • Small, well-cooked broccoli or cauliflower "trees"
  • Pea-size pieces of cooked chicken, ground beef or turkey, or fish
  • Well-cooked beans

During those first several months of eating solid foods, your baby is learning about food's texture, color, and aroma as they feed themself. Offering a variety of foods can help establish healthy eating habits early on. Avoid giving foods that have added sugar, like cookies and cake, as well as high-sodium foods, since they're not healthy for your little one.

Don't give your baby uncut round foods like grapes and blueberries, large chunks of meat, or globs of nut butter – these can be choking hazards. Hard fruits and vegetables, such as raw carrots or apples, can be cooked until they're soft and served in long strips to reduce the choking risk. For more information on how to avoid choking hazards – and what to do if your baby does start gagging or choking – check out BabyCenter's premium Infant CPR and Safety course.

Experts encourage parents to introduce potentially allergenic foods (like peanuts, fish, and soy) with other solid foods. Early and regular exposure may reduce your baby's risk of developing an allergy, and there's no evidence that waiting to introduce these foods will prevent allergies. If you're concerned that your child might have an allergy to certain foods – for example, if your baby has chronic eczema or if a sibling or parent has a food allergy – talk to your pediatrician. Otherwise, introduce these foods one by one and keep an eye out for an allergic reaction.

Mary Sauer

Mary Sauer is a freelance parenting and health writer living in Kansas City. She is a mom of four and loves to hike with her kids, read, and knit. Cooking a complicated meal her kids probably won't eat is one of her favorite pastimes.

Cooking food for a child - healthy and safe food

Submitted by useradmin on Thu, 08/12/2021 - 21:23

Basic cooking tips:

  • Cook for your child yourself.
  • Use prepared purees only in exceptional cases (travel, urgent business).
  • Prepared baby food may contain too much fat, sugar or preservatives; the taste or texture may differ from the taste of natural local products; It is important for your baby to get used to the natural taste of food.
  • Do not add salt or sugar to baby food; if you are preparing a meal for the whole family, separate the children's portion before adding salt and spices.
  • Make sure the food you buy is properly packaged and check the expiration date. Do not eat food after the expiration date.
  • Choose fresh foods, store and cook them in a way that retains as much of their nutritional value as possible.
  • Storing vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator for a long time, long cooking, cooking in a large amount of liquid do not contribute to the preservation of vitamins.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed under running water, especially those that grow close to the soil. Peel the fruit (although the skin contains the most vitamins, pectin and other beneficial ingredients, it also contains the most pesticides and other chemicals that are inevitably processed in industrially grown fruits).
  • Always puree fresh vegetables whenever possible. But it will not be a mistake if you use frozen vegetables.
  • The child must have their own cutlery.

Tips for safe food preparation and storage


Wash your hands before touching food and often while preparing food. Wash your hands and your baby's hands before feeding. Cook on a clean surface using clean utensils. Protect your kitchen and food from insects, pests and other animals.

Separate raw and cooked foods

Do not mix raw foods, especially meat, with foods that have already been cooked or will not be used for cooking. For raw food, use special utensils and utensils such as knives and cutting boards. Store foods in closed containers to avoid contact between raw and cooked foods.

Pass the heat treatment

Cook food for a long time, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood. Bring soups and stews to a boil. When cooking meat and poultry, make sure that the liquid that comes out of them is clear and not red. Reheat cooked food long enough. Bring to a boil or heat until too hot to touch. Stir while heating.

Take care of food safety

To prevent infections (especially salmonella), do not give small children soft-boiled eggs or foods containing raw eggs (creams, ice cream, mayonnaise). Do not offer unpasteurized milk or fermented milk products to children. Store dairy products in the refrigerator and monitor their expiration dates.

Keep food at a safe temperature

Cooked food should not be stored at room temperature for more than two hours. Ready-made products can be stored in the refrigerator in closed containers for no more than 24 hours. Freshly made puree can be frozen and stored in small bowls for up to three weeks. Do not defrost frozen foods at room temperature.

Always consider child safety

Some products are dangerous for children due to the risk of suffocation and should not be given to children under four years of age. These foods include peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, seeds, popcorn, hard candy, whole grapes, large, hard cuts of meat, and raw fruits or vegetables.

Do not allow the child to eat lying down when he is running or jumping. Teach your toddler not to talk with food in their mouth.

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Nutrition and education - Healthy Russia

Eva Punch

Psychologists say that grown children love pasta with sausages because their mother fed them, which means that the food seems tasty, healthy and safe. Artificially formed eating habit.

Such reasoning upsets me. My own observations show that no matter how hard parents try and care about the quality nutrition of their child, all the same - all children love pasta with sausages and fried potatoes with ketchup. Like other dishes with a primitive but bright taste.

As a child in infancy will reach for the red of all the offered toys, so at the table he will choose the simplest and brightest. The order of flavors in ascending order of complexity is: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, bitter.

All children love sweets and prefer sweets to borscht and cutlets, the next stage is salty and smoked meats. After healthy, but insipid children's meat "mashed potatoes" and soufflé, all children fall in love with smoked sausage, sausages and marinades. Many parents are familiar with this stage, when the child declares that he wants not a candy, but a pickled cucumber, not a cake, but a barbecue (and it is possible without bread).

Children are most often conservative , they are afraid to try new foods, but with great pleasure they try familiar food, only cooked in a different way - not steamed potatoes, but fried, not chicken broth, but baked chicken legs with a golden crust. This is fatty, fried - it is still bright and crispy. Much more interesting than pale boiled.

For many, gastronomic education ends at this stage. A child who has grown up to fried potatoes and other chips has chosen the most delicious for himself and does not want to move further, why. Unless he discovers the world of sauces, with which you can pour over everything insipid and healthy, making it bright and tasty.

As Deniska Korablev decided to eat semolina porridge with horseradish, so modern children - and then adults - are ready to eat the simplest food, the main thing is to have more ketchup or mayonnaise. This eating habit is in full swing uses fast food , masking the lack of taste of frozen stale food with bright sauces, fried crust and flavorings.

Some parents will give up at this stage. He doesn’t want porridge, but he wants sausages - well, that’s good, the main thing is not to remain hungry. Other parents will try and expand the range of children's menu.

Some will go down the slippery path of decorating dishes: fly agaric from tomatoes, rabbits from boiled eggs, sandwiches with redcurrant “eyes”, roses and butterflies from boiled sausage, and so on. The danger here lies in the fact that0140 the process of eating turns into a game , but the assortment just does not expand. The child still does not want anything new, but only waits for new decorations in familiar food.

My daughter does not eat fish well. A heavy heritage of gray fishcakes from kindergarten, plus a rusty herring tail. He loves meat, cutlets in breadcrumbs too, he loves smoked sausage in general, but he doesn’t eat fish and that’s all. So I took a different path, starting to cook fish so that it looked like the meat she loved.

The fish smells like fish - this is her first argument. I choose salmon, which is bright, red, and has practically no specific fishy smell. I also smoke fish in the oven on alder shavings. Smoked fish reminds a little of smoked sausage, which, of course, comforts and adds flavor.

I bread the fish in breadcrumbs and fry until golden crisp. The crunch is also comforting. I also buy tuna in the form of large steaks and just quickly fry for a minute on each side or grill. Tuna is a very "meaty" fish - both in color and texture.

I add a little bit of fish to my daughter's usual and favorite dishes. And little by little she gets used to her taste, forgets her rejection. The same with mushrooms, with cereals unfamiliar to her (corn, pearl barley, couscous).

Focusing on the well-established tastes of my daughter, I try to enrich them . The child loves pea soup, I will offer both bean and lentil soup, cooked with the same additives, using similar technologies.

When she gets used to the beans and loves them, I can start cooking beans differently, and then even offer green beans, which my daughter used to reject. He loves baked chicken - I will suggest roasted duck or turkey.

Development of eating habits is similar to any other educational and educational process. It is not enough to teach a child the alphabet to develop a love and skill for reading. If a child likes to read only about Dunno, you should not stop there (“well, at least he reads something!”), But you need to offer and offer. First, something close in spirit, in form, with illustrations by the same artist. Something recognizable, but still new.

The same with food. The child loves parsley and dill - add basil, tarragon, celery and cilantro to this (do not replace, but add), loves radish - add radish, in addition to traditional apples and pears - offer quince.

It is very bad to deceive children , but the art of a cook is similar to the art of a storyteller. If the child does not eat pumpkin or turnips, add it to puree soups, meatballs, dumplings, sauces, and roasts. Teach this taste so that it becomes familiar, recognizable and loved.

Once my child was visiting at a New Year's party and ate squid salad with pleasure (while denying at least some marine reptiles on his plate), simply because the dinner was by candlelight.

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