Whether you are introducing solids to your baby using the traditional puree based approach or dive straight into table foods following Baby Led Weaning, finger foods can appear on your baby’s tray as early as at 6 months of age.
Why serve finger foods to your baby?
By the time babies 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.
Wonder how to make just one meal for the whole family, including the baby? Learn the 7 things you need to know before giving your baby family food.
Think you cannot serve finger foods alongside purees? I dispell the myth about a higher risk for choking here.
How to help your baby to eat finger foods
After you start serving finger foods, you will notice that with time your little one handles them more confidently and actually eats more! So let’s not miss the chance to boost her diet by serving the most nutritious options!
Warning: If your little one is not interested in self-feeding yet, do not despair. Some babies take longer to warm up to finger foods. The good news is that the options I suggest below do not require lots of work and make a great snack for you too!
To help your baby learn to self-feed, serve finger foods at most meals, so they can keep practicing and also get some sensory play. You can help your baby learn to self-feed faster with these tips.
Remember, to keep your baby safe, it is very important to watch him at all times when he is eating.
Also, keep in mind that many babies gag when they are getting used to the new texture. Gagging is a safe learning mechanism that allows them to get rid of the pieces of food that are too challenging to handle.
But since babies have different levels of sensitivity to textures, the amount of gagging may also differ. Some gag repeatedly even when transitioned from milk to thin purees, others have no problem eating advanced options like finger foods, from the start.
Fun Fact: Babies tend to just suck on finger foods at first and as they get more skilled, you may notice more biting and chewing.
8 easy finger food ideas for your baby
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.
And here are 65 more finger foods ideas to inspire you.
1. Apple wedges smeared with coconut oil, sprinkled with cinnamon and cooked in the microwave until very soft but still holding shape. Raw apples and other hard foods like raw carrots are a choking hazard.
2. Toast dipped in a soft boiled egg. Eggs are one of the super foods that are especially good for babies. Full of fat, protein and lots of vitamins and minerals, they are also very easy to prepare. My baby does not like the texture of omelet, but it is less messy, so worth a try with your little one.
3. Toast with nut butter. Yes, you can give your child nut butter from early on, if your doctor gave you the green light.
To minimize the mess, try sandwiching some nut butter between two pieces of toast. But if your kids are like mine, they will want to lick it off first!
Need more guidance on how and when to introduce your peanuts to your baby? I have an overview of the most recent guidelines for you.
Please remember that whole nuts and nut butter served on a spoon can be a choking hazard and are not appropriate for kids under 3.
Also, make sure to check other nutritious toppings you can put on your baby’s toast.
4. Broccoli with stalks, steamed, boiled or roasted. This was the first finger food for my baby #3, and it is still one of her favorites.
5. Avocado wedges with partially removed skin, for a better grip. Make sure to wash the avocado well before serving.
6. Bananas washed and with skin removed partially. As your baby eats the flesh, keep removing the skin further.
7. Soft fruit like very ripe pear, kiwi, mango or papaya cut into wedges or discs.
8. Roasted vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and zucchini. Cut them into long or large round pieces that are easy to grab with a hand. Small pieces require babies 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.
Are wondering what a crinkle cutter is? Check how I cut food to feed my babies and the tools and tricks I use.
Have you tried giving finger foods to your baby yet? What your experience has been so far?
Your baby is unique.
So why copy how everyone else is starting solids? Welcome your baby into the wonderful world of food using this safe and responsive method.