Whether you are introducing solids to your baby using the traditional puree based approach or dive straight into table foods like in Baby Led Weaning, finger foods can appear on your baby’s tray from early on.
In this blog post, I will go over a few easy, nutritious and safe finger foods for a 6-month-old.
I hope this list will give confidence and peace of mind as you are starting with the baby. And if you feel like you need more detailed guidance, including photos of finger foods from each food group, videos of babies eating and gagging, all the schedules, recipes and check lists you may need, check my online program Stress-Free Solids. I created it for parents who want to be flexible in their approach to feeding the baby and use both finger foods and purees.
Not many parents know that babies can start self feeding finger foods from early on. By the time they learn to sit upright and become interested in food, most of them are also able to use their now free hands to grab big pieces of food and bring them to the mouth.
Even if most of the finger foods end up smashed on the tray or dropped to the floor, it is a great opportunity for your baby to practice motor skills and get little tastes of what the rest of the family is eating.
And you may also notice that with time your little one handles finger foods more confidently and actually eats more of them! So why miss the chance to boost his or her diet by serving the most nutritious options?
If your little one is not interested in self-feeding, do not despair. The options I suggest below do not require lots of work and make a great snack for you too! Just make sure to provide exposure to different finger foods at most meals, to help your child learn faster.
Remember, it is very important to watch your baby at all times when he or she is eating. Many babies gag when they are getting used to the new texture, it is a safe learning mechanism that allows them to get rid of the pieces that are too challenging to handle.
All babies have different sensitivity levels. Some gag repeatedly even when transitioned from milk to thin purees, others have no problem eating advanced options like finger foods from the start. Babies tend to just suck on finger foods at first and as they get more skilled, you may notice more biting and chewing.
Are finger foods safe for babies?
Yes, research shows that if finger foods are prepared and cut in a safe way, they are as safe for babies as purees.
The key is to ensure that all finger foods you serve to your baby can be easily squashed between your two fingers, so they are soft enough for your baby.
When your baby is just starting to self-feed, they are not likely to be able to pick up small pieces of food, so make sure that the size of the finger food you are serving is two adult fingers thick and 1 adult finger long.
Easy finger food ideas
Here is a list of easy and nutritious finger foods to offer to your 6-month-old. Many of them are high in iron, zinc and fat, important nutrients at this age. Serve them for meals if you are following Baby Led Weaning or alongside purees if you are following the traditional approach to the introduction of solids.
1. Apple wedges smeared with coconut oil sprinkled with cinnamon and cooked in the microwave until very soft. Raw apples and other hard foods like raw carrots are a choking hazard, so it’s important to either cook them until they are soft or grate them.
2. Toast dipped in a soft boiled egg. Eggs are one of the superfoods that are especially good for babies. Full of fat, protein and lots of vitamins and minerals, they are also very easy to prepare. Some babies do not like the texture of omelet but it’s less messy, so worth a try with your little one. Choose salmonella free eggs with the Lion stamp (UK) or pasteurised eggs if you are in US.
3. Toast with nut butter. Yes, you can give your child nuts from early on, if your doctor gave you the green light. Some kids with a genetic predisposition to food allergies may benefit from a delayed exposure to nuts. I dedicated a part of Stress Free Solids program to how and when to introduce potential allergens, signs, symptoms and action plans related to each type of allergic reactions and examples of foods with potential allergens.
You can try to sandwich some nut butter between two pieces of toast to minimize the mess. Nut butters are so nutritious! I recommend adding them to purees, yogurts and cereals can also be mixed into purees. But whole nuts are a choking hazard and are not appropriate for kids under 5.
4. Broccoli with stalks, steamed, boiled or roasted. This was the first finger food my baby ate and it is still one of her favorites. Stalks make perfect “handles” and babies love practicing their self feeding skills with broccoli.
5. Avocado wedges with the partially removed skin, for a better grip. Make sure to wash the avocado well before serving. Avocados are full of good fats, calories and vitamin C, they are true nutritional power houses!
6. Bananas washed and with skin removed partially. As your baby eats the flesh, keep removing the skin further. You can also peel the banana and divide it into wedges – perfect size and shape for self feeding!
7. Soft fruit like a very ripe pear, kiwi, mango or papaya cut into wedges or discs. Make sure the fruit is very soft. Pear, for example, can be quite hard is not very ripe. If the fruit you have is slightly hard, let it sit on the counter for a couple of days, it should ripen naturally.
8. Roasted vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and zucchini. Cut them in long or large round pieces that are easy to grab with a hand. Small pieces require the kid to use their finger or pincer grasp that develops later, at around 8-10 months. You can also use a crinkle cutter to make the surface less slippery. Here is a recipe for very easy roasted veggies for babies. My Stress Free Solids program has two (!) ebooks with recipes for different ages and stages.
Have you tried giving finger foods to your baby yet? What your experience has been so far?
If you would like to get the whole framework and all the steps to start your baby on solids using the mixed approach, check my Stress Free Solids program – it’s completely online and has videos of babies eating both finger foods and purees and lots of photos of finger foods, in addition to recipes, schedules, and the latest scientific advice on introducing allergens.
Other articles on the topic of feeding babies:
Starting solids the easy, safe and stress-free way!
Let me show you how to feed your baby using the mixed approach, so you can be guided by your baby and not by a rigid philosophy.