Introducing finger foods to your baby can be exciting and overwhelming! Here is everything you need to know about serving them to babies 6 months and older so that they are safe and delicious!
- Finger Foods for Baby
- Can Babies eat Finger Foods without Teeth?
- Choking vs. Gagging
- Best Iron-rich Finger Foods
- Soft Finger Foods for Baby - Vegetables
- Baby Finger Foods - Fruits
- Baby Finger Food Recipes
- How to Serve
- Finger Foods for 6-8 Month Old Baby
- Finger Foods for 9-11 Month Old Baby
- Finger Foods for 12+ Months
- Real-Life Baby Food Ideas
- Best Finger Foods for Baby
Finger Foods for Baby
If you've decided to start solid foods by taking the baby led weaning approach, you will be introducing big, soft-cooked finger foods from the start.
If you are taking the traditional weaning approach of starting with purees, you will most likely start offering finger foods around 8-9 months of age when you and your baby feel ready to move forward with texture.
Regardless of which method you choose, the goal is to offer finger foods by 9 months at the latest.
That's because familiarity is a BIG part of taste and acceptance, and the earlier the exposure to all the different flavors and textures, the greater their acceptance.
If your baby stays on pureed textures for too long, it may be much more difficult to get them to accept different textures later.
If you're feeling anxious about offering textured foods from the start and want to take the traditional weaning route where babies are spoon-fed purees or the combination approach (you do you!), here's how to safely move forward from purees to textured foods.
Is your baby 6 months old and up?
Learn all the secrets to starting solids safely while optimizing nutrition!
Can Babies eat Finger Foods without Teeth?
While you might think babies can’t eat foods that aren’t pureed until they have teeth, the reality is they don’t need teeth to enjoy table/finger foods.
Did you know that we actually chew with our molars, not the front teeth? And if you wait until the molars come in (normally around 12-18 months) to move on to table foods, you would totally miss that critical “window of opportunity” for developing food preferences.
Not to mention, failure to move from purees to textured foods by 9 months may lead to increased risk for feeding difficulties later in life.
So how are they able to handle table foods without the molars? With their strong gums! And it is our responsibility as parents to make sure that the foods are appropriately cooked and served, and that’s what I want to share with you!
Do keep in mind, I’m sharing general timelines & guidelines here. What’s most important is to follow your baby’s lead as every child is so different and they develop at their own pace.
Choking vs. Gagging
Research actually shows that there’s no greater risk of choking with baby led weaning in comparison to the traditional feeding practices.
What's most important is to avoid these top choking hazards.
Choking is different from gagging, which is very common and to be expected. Gagging is a safety mechanism to prevent choking and contrary to how it appears, it doesn’t really bother the babies.
Sit on your hands, remain calm, and let them work through it. Do NOT try to fish out the food from their mouth. Here are some additional tips on how to get through the first month of baby led weaning.
Best Iron-rich Finger Foods
Be sure to click on the links for more details on each of the specific foods.
Iron is arguably THE most important nutrient for babies and it is one of the primary reasons that we start solids when we do. Be sure to incorporate one of these foods at every meal to help meet their high needs.
Soft Finger Foods for Baby - Vegetables
- Bell peppers
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet potato - these sweet potato rounds are so fun!
And as you see in the image above, do not be afraid to season your baby's food from the start!
Also check out: Vegetables for babies (with 30+ recipes)
Baby Finger Foods - Fruits
- Avocado - sliced into wedges or bite-sized pieces
- Apples - serve similar to pears
- Ripe banana - try soaking in peanut butter. Be sure to thin it out as globs of peanut butter or any nut butter is a choking hazard
- Grapes - hold off until 9 months and be sure to serve quartered.
- Kiwi - Halves, quarters, bite-sized
- Melons - large thin rectangles
Baby Finger Food Recipes
Here are some quick and easy ways to incorporate protein, iron, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your baby's diet.
For more, check out this master list of Baby Led Weaning Recipes
How to Serve
In this section, you will learn how to cut and cook the finger foods so they are the appropriate shape and texture according to age.
Finger Foods for 6-8 Month Old Baby
Cut so that the food is about the size of 1-2 adult fingers pressed together widthwise and the length of an adult pinky finger (or longer).
Contrary to what you might think, serving big pieces of food will actually minimize choking risk and make it easier for your baby to grab with their fist (referred to as the palmar grasp). Initially, everything will likely get demolished, but with practice, your baby will learn to have better control of hand force.
Foods should be firm enough to grasp but soft enough to easily smoosh between two fingers or mash with the tongue on the roof of the mouth.
Finger Foods for 9-11 Month Old Baby
By this age, babies are learning to move food side to side within their mouths as well as forward and backward. They are also starting to learn the concept of biting (hopefully anyways).
Your baby is mastering their pincer grasp and able to pick up small pieces of food between the thumb and index finger. Therefore, you can begin to cut food into small bite-sized pieces.
But do continue offering larger pieces of food so they can learn to take bites.
You can start serving slightly firmer foods by shortening the cooking time for veggies, roasting more often rather than just steaming, etc. Depending on the number of teeth your baby has, chewing ability, and your comfort level, you can start offering finely grated raw fruits and veggies.
If your baby constantly turns into a competitive food eater (like mine did), here are some things you can do to help slow them down:
- Help set pace by placing small amounts of food in front of her at a time either directly on the table/tray or a plate. I personally just took the plate away every time his mouth was full and encouraged him to finish chewing before offering his plate again. It was tedious but worked well for us.
- Offer utensils (here are our favorites). Using it requires fine motor skills which will help slow down pace.
You may also be interested in: healthy baby snacks
Finger Foods for 12+ Months
Again, try to encourage your child to learn to take bites by not cutting up the food as much. As always, role modeling can do wonders in helping them to learn this new skill.
If your child is continuing to shove food, learn how to teach them to take bites.
You've done the hard work! At this point your child should be able to handle almost all textures and eating like the rest of the family. Can you start offering crunchy vegetables? Yes! Here's a guide on how to introduce raw vegetables to your little one in a safe and fun way.
Real-Life Baby Food Ideas
All the images you see in this article are actual meals I served to my babies.
If you are feeling confused and overwhelmed by what foods to serve, how to prepare foods so they are safe, how to introduce allergens and a wide variety of foods, how to adapt family meals so you don't spend hours slaving away in the kitchen making two separate meals every.single.day, and on and on...
My 3 month program will save you time, energy, money, and sanity!
I’ve done all the hard work for you so all you need to do is follow the daily and weekly game plan and watch the cooking demos for EVERY.SINGLE.MEAL you will make for 3 months. By doing so you’ll be able to serve all the meals you see here plus 130+ effortlessly!
I’ve also heard from so many parents that an unexpected benefit to following this program for their baby was that it encouraged their older fussy eater(s) to start trying new foods and expanding their food choices.
Do you want to minimize picky eating and set a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits?
Check out this 3 month mastering self-feeding program! It’s the closest thing to me being in your kitchen
And be sure to follow me on Instagram for more helpful videos!
Best Finger Foods for Baby
- cook and cut the finger foods so they are the appropriate shape and texture according to age as described here.