It happens quickly with little ones. They may be at home or at baby daycare. It may start with a simple, longing look or a ninja-fast snatching hand. But one day you’re giving them pureed, mushy barely-not-liquefied food, and the next they’ve sprouted a couple of teeth and they don’t want something dribbled off a spoon into their mouth, they want whatever you’re having. All of it. Now. Apple? Yes. Carrots? Yes. Giant-sized Jawbreaker from the candy store that they don’t have a prayer of effectively gnawing on? Absolutely.
For this next phase of your baby’s development, some foods are clearly going to be more appropriate than others to introduce them to as their eating horizons expand. When your baby starts expressing interest in feeding him- or herself, at this stage, it’s likely he or she doesn’t have a lot of teeth to support their new interest in different, non-baby foods, so start with foods that can be gummed or will easily dissolve. Babies are interested in checking out foods with new texture, color, taste and smell so give them a variety of healthy, nutritious things to try (but not sweets and high-fat things!).
Whether you’re sharing their new food adventures with them at home or you’re sending the new foods with them to baby daycare, there are a number of first finger foods you can give your baby that will keep them entertained, exploratory, and healthy.
Whatever food you give them to try for their first finger foods, you’ll want it to be easy to handle and bite-sized but cooked until it’s soft enough and cut to pieces small enough to make sure they don’t become a choking hazard. If you’ll be sending their new foods with them to baby daycare make sure you prepare it this way ahead of time. Also read up to learn more about spotting food allergies and foods that aren’t safe to give to small children. Some parents find that in addition to offering them bite-sized foods, cutting the food into finger-shaped sizes can help little hands hold onto the food more easily.
- ripe mango
- pitted and peeled peaches and plums
- roasted potato or yams
- strawberries quartered length-wise
- dried fruits such as raisins and dried apricots
- quartered grapes
- roasted vegetables
- roasted zucchini
- cooked carrots
- steamed broccoli and cauliflower
- cooked, shredded chicken
- sliced turkey from the deli
- buffalo chicken
- broken-up meatballs
- scrambled eggs
- chunks of hard-boiled eggs
- small cubes of tofu
- small pieces of lightly toasted bread or bagels with vegetable puree or other schmears
- mac and cheese
- small pieces of whatever you’re eating
- soft, fresh mozzarella cheese
- pita bits dipped in hummus
- cheese quesadillas
- corkscrew pasta
It’s good for babies to eat finger foods because it helps develop their independence and motor skills, and can also serve an important role in making them adventurous and open-minded. So remember, it’s ok if they get a little messy as they’re exploring their new foods. Let them have fun with it!