Offering your baby a wide variety of food is incredibly important in the first year of life, when he is more likely to accept them.
Many of the finger food ideas I see on BLW (Baby Led Weaning) forums are some kind of mixed dishes, like muffins or egg creations with fruit or vegetables mixed in them. I think they are ok to serve from time to time but ultimately we want the baby to get a lot of exposures to individual foods so that he can learn to like them.
On the list you will see things like nori, raw baby spinach, raw green onion or artichoke hearts. You may think that they are a strange choice for a baby finger food but in fact they perfectly appropriate and very nutritious. Who says we have to be limited to bananas and avocados? You may be surprised by your baby’s preferences!
The best thing you can do to ensure your baby is safe is staying with her at all times when she is eating. Next, avoid choking hazards.
I also highly recommend to take a CPR course and/or learn the Heimlich maneuver in a certified first-aid training class.
To keep finger foods safe, make sure they pass the “squish test”. Take a piece and press it with two fingers. If it can be squished easily between the fingers, this food is safe for your baby.
Research shows that safe finger foods are not more likely to make your baby choke than purees or milk. According to the team conducting one study, foods to avoid are: “…anything that couldn’t be mashed on the roof of the mouth with the tongue; very small foods such as nuts, grapes, sweets and food with pits; raw veggies; under-ripe or hard fruit, including raw apple; citrus fruits, unless each segment had been peeled; whole nuts and popcorn; and foods cut into coins, such as sausages or carrots.”
The shape of finger foods matters
Your baby may be ready to start experimenting with finger foods as early as at 6-7 months. At this stage, he can only use his whole palm to pick up the food. So it is important to cut the food into large disks, large slices or sticks the size of your finger that can be held in a hand comfortably.
Too slippery to hold? Wash well and leave the skin partially on for a better grip or dust food with a baby cereal.
If you would like more tips, I made a Facebook video on how to cut finger food sot make them less slippery and make easier to hold (including using a special tool I love).
By 8-10 months most babies can use their pincer grasp, i.e. their fingers to pick up smaller pieces of food. Finger foods cut into small shapes about the size of a dime will be the best match to their abilities at this point. All the foods from the list below can be cut smaller to allow babies to practice their pincer grasp.
You may be surprised to know that babies are also very good at eating thick purees with their fingers. Thick oatmeal, mashed potatoes or any thick puree will make a perfect (but messy) finger food for your little one. Food that can be shredded like cheese or shaped into balls like sticky rice can also be served as finger foods.
65 whole food finger foods for baby
Mashed potatoes, to be eaten with fingers
Oatmeal, thick enough to be eaten with fingers
Polenta, cooked, cooled and cut into sticks
Sticky rice balls
Artichoke hearts, steamed
Avocado, cut into wedges
Eggplant, slices or sticks, roasted or pan fried
Kale and other tough greens, sautéed or steamed
Onions, green (raw) – you will be surprised
Sea weed sheets / Nori
Beets, roasted (I recommend the pink variety, for obvious reasons :))
Broccoli florets, steamed or roasted
Butternut squash, sliced and roasted or steamed
Carrot, sticks or slices, roasted or steamed
Cauliflower florets, roasted or steamed
Green beans, steamed or pan fried
Parsnip, sticks, roasted or steamed
Potato wedges, roasted
Spinach, baby, raw
Sweet potato, wedges, roasted or steamed
Zucchini, slices or wedges, roasted or steamed
Apples, wedges, steamed, microwaved or roasted
Apricots, cut in half
Banana, cut into sticks or partially peeled
Grapes, cut into halves lengthwise (choking hazard if left whole!)
Kiwi, wedges or slices
Mango, sticks or slices
Melon, sticks or slices
Orange, segments, peeled
Peach, halves or slices
Pear, very ripe, wedges
Persimmon/sharon fruit, slices or wedges
Pineapple, sticks or slices
Plums, halves or wedges
Raspberries – cut in half if too big
Beans, very well cooked or canned, cut in half if big
Beef, braised, separated into sizable chunks
Beef, steak, cut into slices
Cheese, shredded or cut in thin slices
Chicken, sticks or thick slices
Cottage cheese, to be eaten with fingers
Duck meat, sticks or thick slices
Eggs, boiled, wedges
Eggs, omelet, squares or slices
Eggs, soft boiled, with toast sticks for dipping
Fish, roasted, fried, tinned or steamed, separated into flakes
Lamb, braised, separated into sizable chunks
Lamb cutlets, slices
Meatballs, slices or served whole
Peanut butter, to spread thinly over a toast
Pork, braised, separated into sizable chunks
Pork, cutlets, slices
Tofu, baked or stir fried, sticks
Yogurt, to be eaten with fingers
Would you like me to send you the list in a downloadable format?