When can baby have 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.

Giving Baby Finger Foods at 7-8 Months

Written by Rebecca Felsenthal Stewart

Month 7, Week 3


Once your baby is a pro at eating soft mashed foods, they may be ready to move on to finger foods around 8 months. They have the dexterity to pick the food up and release it or mash it, and will become more efficient and independent as they master the pincer grip around 9 months. At that point they'll be able to use their thumb and forefinger to pick up the small chunks of food.

Your baby may grab at everything on your plate, but follow these guidelines for healthy and safe feedings.

  • Start with menu items like pieces of soft cheese; small pieces of pasta or bread; finely chopped soft vegetables; and fruits like bananas, avocado, and ripe peaches or nectarines. These foods should require minimal chewing, as your baby may not yet have teeth. Do NOT let them have hot dogs, raw vegetables, nuts, meats, hard candy, or sticky textures such as nut butters that have increased choking risks at this stage.
  • Introduce new foods one at a time in case there are any concers about allergies.
  • Chop all foods into soft, bite-sized pieces, 1/2 inch or smaller.
  • Watch out for choking hazards: Avoid round, firm foods like carrots, grapes, and hot dogs and skip anything like raw veggies and peanuts. Raisins and popcorn are dangerous for babies.
  • Keep up your formula or breastfeeding schedule, but as your baby eats more solids, they’ll naturally start to take less milk. Your baby needs to start eating more solids and drinking less milk for the nutritional value at this stage.

Your Baby's Development This Week

Your baby is getting stronger and may even be moving around, whether they are sliding around on their belly in reverse, scooting on their behind, or actually crawling forward. If you haven’t childproofed your house already, don’t wait any longer!

You may notice these growing signs of motor development:

  • Your baby is probably now able to sit on their own for several minutes, without using their hands for support and they may be able to get up into a sitting position all by themselves.
  • While you offer them support, they should be able to bounce up and down, and possibly even pull up to a stand.
  • Their little hands are increasingly agile -- they are getting better at passing a toy back and forth from one to the other.

You might wonder about:

  • Their vision. Your baby should be able to see nearly as far as an adult by now and can track moving objects with their eyes.
  • Stranger anxiety. You’re not imagining it: They may fear new people and situations. So give them time to warm up and reassure them if they are upset.
  • What they can understand. Your baby might comprehend more than you realize, so it’s important to keep talking to them about everything you’re doing and try to be consistent about the words you use for familiar objects.

Month 7 Week 3 Tips

  • If food allergies run in the family, talk to your pediatrician about introducing highly allergenic foods like peanuts and eggs.
  • Fried foods are not good choices for babies. If you offer them at all, do so rarely.
  • Avoid feeding your baby juice unless it is fresh-squeezed.
  • By now, your baby’s diet should include grains, fruits, vegetables, and meats, and they should be eating two to three meals a day.
  • In addition to rice, barley, or oat cereal, you can introduce grain products your baby can grab, such as toast, crackers, and dry cereal. Avoid any colorful, sugary cereals.
  • Sit baby in their high-chair for feeding time. If they eat finger foods while crawling around, they are more likely to choke.
  • You’re not done with breast feeding or bottle feeding. Your baby is starting the transition, but breast milk and formula are still key.
  • Pureeing or mashing vegetables may make them easier for your baby to eat when they are first transitioning from a liquid diet to solids.
© 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info

Eating with your hands and not getting fat: a new trend in baby feeding - Parents.ru

About nutrition

in fact, it is a continuation of pedagogical complementary foods - a trend that appeared in Russia relatively recently, but has already become widespread. What it is? Pedagogical complementary foods are not an independent complementary feeding system in its traditional sense (it does not contain specific recommendations regarding the sequence of introducing products and their combinations), but a way to introduce a child to “adult” food and table behavior skills. He implies that if the baby shows interest in food on her mother’s plate, she should offer him this food in the amount of a “microdose” (a droplet on the tip of a teaspoon or a piece the size of a pea) without prior grinding. The main slogan of pedagogical complementary foods is: "Put the child at the common table when the whole family is together, and let him choose what he likes." nine0003


Children eat with their hands more conveniently and “tastier” than cutlery, which is why they do it with pleasure. But finger food is not just entertainment: there are many advantages to eating with your fingers.

  • Improving the ability to chew. It does not happen that up to a year the baby received only breast milk, and then suddenly began to chew the pieces wonderfully. The baby learns to chew gradually, so it is very important not to miss the age stages of this skill and offer solid foods in a timely manner. nine0003

  • Grasping exercises. By eating with his hands, the child masters the "tweezer" grip (children grab small pieces of food using the thumb and forefinger), which is necessary for the development of fine motor skills. In the future, this will help them perform many exercises in which they need to be able to capture small objects: lay out a mosaic, sculpt, draw, embroider. In addition, the development of a "tweezer" grip prepares the child's hand for writing.

  • Correction of eating behavior. By the age of two, it has already been formed in some way, and if before the diet was scarce and monotonous, when accustomed to the “adult table”, the baby may reject new foods. "Finger food" - first from mom's plate, and then from your own - will help the child to harmoniously move on to a common meal.

  • Way of knowing the world around. Eating with hands at an early age has a positive effect on child development in general: the baby receives a lot of information - visual, tactile, olfactory, gustatory and even auditory (foods come in different colors, tastes, textures - they can crunch, squish, etc.). This is very useful: in addition to the fact that the child learns to be independent, he also conducts a kind of identification of dishes on the table. nine0003

Compassionate Eye Foundation/Three Images/Getty Images

Eat little, baby!

British scientists have proven that "eating with your hands" reduces the risk of obesity in a child. They conducted an experiment in which more than 150 children aged 6 months to 6 years took part. Half of the parents suggested that their children take pieces of solid food from the plate, the rest - fed from a spoon. The results of the study showed that children who joined the common table through finger food were less likely to suffer from overweight in middle and high school age. Domestic doctors do not quite agree with the conclusion of foreign experts: if the child is not persuaded and not blackmailed (“a spoon for mom, a spoon for dad”, “eat - I’ll give you candy!”), He, eating even with the help of cutlery, he will determine for himself the optimum amount of food to eat. The main thing is that high-quality and healthy products are always present on the children's plate. nine0003


At what age can you give small pieces of food to a baby? As soon as the baby begins to sit confidently without assistance. It’s good if at 4.5 months, under strict parental guidance, he grinds a dry bagel or a piece of apple in a nibbler with his gums. Do not forget that the consistency of the main complementary foods (porridge, mashed potatoes, etc.) should gradually become thicker so that the child has a need to work with his jaws, lips, tongue. Then you can reduce the degree of grinding: use a meat grinder, grater, fork. All this will gradually teach the baby to fully chew food. Usually, from 7 to 12 months, this skill is successfully formed, and at the age of one, if the child received pediatric complementary foods according to age, he may well be fed with food with his hands on his own. nine0003

“Food with hands” is suitable for children from 7–8 months to 1.5 years. Then the child should make friends with cutlery and learn to get pleasant tactile sensations in other ways.

Kumacore/Getty Images

How many

Food with hands is always present in our diet, because bread, pies, chicken wings, khinkali, desserts like “oriental sweets”, and many other things we eat without cutlery . Therefore, there will always be finger food in the child's diet, and it is not necessary to artificially observe its volume. But it is necessary to accustom the baby to cutlery: at eight months he should eat with a spoon with his mother, and at 1.5 years old he should use cutlery on his own. It is both civilized and more hygienic. nine0003

How to

Be patient: it is not easy to encourage baby food with your hands, because at first more of it will end up on the floor instead of your mouth. Cover the table with oilcloth and use a plate with a suction cup - it will be more difficult for your baby to knock it over. Also, special containers like lunch boxes with internal dividers are good for finger food: arrange the edible pieces in different sections, and let the baby explore their contents.

Safety Instructions

  • Do not breastfeed your baby: the risk of choking is much lower if the baby is seated across from you in a high chair. nine0003

  • Do not offer food to your baby when he is upset, overexcited, crawling or watching TV: small pieces of food are potentially dangerous - they can easily be put into the nose or ear, and also try to inhale. Never leave a child unattended while eating!

  • For the same reason, do not give him small dense rounded foods: grapes, nuts and raisins, green peas, olives. Cut vegetables and fruits of a dense texture (apples, cucumbers, carrots, celery) into small sticks. nine0003

  • Discard fish: small, thin and elastic bones are very difficult to remove from it.

  • Forget sausages and sausages: they are very hard to chew and swallow.

  • If you use a nibbler, make sure the nets are intact and clean. And, of course, be sure to wash your hands before eating - both children's and your own.


A good food to eat with your hands is one that can be broken into small pieces that are easy to chew or even dissolve in your mouth. The main thing is to make sure that the baby will not only be able to easily hold them in his hands, but also will not choke. nine0003

Yiu Yu Hoi/Getty Images
  • Vegetables. They must be cooked so that they are soft, peeled and de-seeded. Diced boiled potatoes are a great food to eat with your hands. Small soft cubes of boiled carrots, broccoli, pumpkins are also perfect for a child up to a year old. A treat for older kids: slices of cucumber or sweet pepper - these vegetable sticks are conveniently dipped in various sauces. nine0003

  • Fruit. Small cubes of watermelon, melon, ripe banana, pear will do. Cut them into small plates or sticks to make it easier for the baby to bite off.

  • Everything else. Also, soft pasta (tubes, horns, shells, bows), egg yolks from quail eggs and small pieces of soft cheese (tofu, goat or mozzarella), steamed meatballs, pieces of chicken or turkey fillet will be useful and perfect for eating with your hands . Cut pancakes into thin strips - you can dip them directly with your hands in yogurt, sour cream or fruit puree. nine0003

Arrange thick dips of different colors (yellow for cheese, green for spinach or avocado, red for berries) on a plate in circles, imitating a palette. Let the baby mix them with his hands, getting new colors and flavors.

Trying by mouth

Practically all parents know today that it is useful for a baby to touch different objects with his hands from a very early age. The fingertips are equipped with many nerve endings, and stimulating them not only transmits a lot of information to the brain, but also relieves nervous tension. It's safe to say that eating with your hands is soothing. Any tactile sensations have a beneficial effect not only on the nervous system, but, according to some reports, increase immunity. When a baby eats with his hands, he is not so much satiated as he explores unfamiliar objects with his mouth (in tactile terms, the mouth provides him with more effective information than hands). Some children under two years of age retain the need to study objects in this particular form: “Everything is dragged into the mouth,” mothers complain. Nevertheless, at the age of two, a child should be as accustomed to a civilized meal as possible - to be able to use a spoon and a fork. If the baby continues to eat with his hands, this is either from a lack of education, or from a lack of attention and a lack of tactile sensations, which at this age should be replenished in other adequate ways (with the help of mother's hugs, on a carpet with favorite toys). nine0003

More useful materials on how to feed your baby - in our channel on Yandex.Zen.

Evgenia Karpovskaya

How to teach a child to eat with a spoon and at what age is it better to start

Usually, parents feed their children from a spoon not out of emotion, but for practical reasons: it’s faster and cleaner. Pediatrician Olga Kulakova explains at what age a child can handle eating with a spoon and fork and whether this process can be somehow accelerated. nine0003

Question. My daughter is already 1.5 years old, but she just can't eat with a spoon on her own. By what age should a child learn to use cutlery? And are there ways to teach him?

Answer. The first acquaintance of a child with a spoon begins in the first year of life and coincides in time with the beginning of the introduction of complementary foods. At 6–7 months, the baby may begin to show interest in the spoon as an object. This is an excuse to buy another baby spoon and put it next to the plate. Let the child turn it in his hands, examine it and try to use it for its intended purpose. nine0003

At around 9 months of age, your baby can start picking up a spoon on their own. But this does not mean that he will be able to scoop up food and bring it to his mouth. Rather, it is about the fact that the child is trying to copy the movements of adults.

A child usually masters a full-fledged spoon by about one and a half years. But here it is important to remember that everything is very individual. Someone already a year old is excellent at using a spoon, and someone is still fed by their parents even at two years old. And it’s not worth worrying that the child is over a year old, and he is still just learning and he doesn’t succeed. nine0003

Under no circumstances should children be forced to learn this science. Aggressive training can cause a backlash: the child will no longer want to pick up cutlery.

How to teach a child to use a spoon:

  • Have him sit at a common table, let him watch how family members eat.
  • Do not force feed your baby. Let him eat with his hands. He will not be able to eat porridge and soup like that - he will have to try to master the spoon. nine0026
  • Play role-playing games with him more often, in which the child feeds his toys from a spoon.

At this age, the child actively copies the behavior of his loved ones, and it is important that he sees how the whole family eats with cutlery.

Children learn to use a fork by about three years of age: at this age they already understand that a fork is a sharp object and can be hurt.

Pay attention to how the child grasps cutlery:

  • At 1–2 years old, he holds a spoon in his fist in the middle of the handle.
  • By two years - closer to the wide back.
  • From the age of three, he can begin to hold the spoon with three fingers: thumb, index and middle.

Sooner or later the child will pick up the spoon and fork on his own as it should be

Children are given long time intervals to acquire certain developmental skills. For example, some children can learn to walk at 9 months, and others by one and a half years, and both will be the norm. The same story with cutlery: one child may become interested in them at 7-8 months, the other at 9months or after a year. All of these are variations of the norm.

However, by the age of two, a child should normally pick up a spoon and try to eat on his own. This does not mean that he will eat all the soup in the bowl, but at least a few spoons he should be able to bring to his mouth.

Ask your question to Mel, and the editors will find someone who can answer it. Write to our social networks - we read all messages on the pages on Facebook, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki.

Learn more