Finger foods are literally foods that your baby can pick up and eat with their fist (and ultimately their fingers once they have become a bit of a pro and developed that all important pincer grip).
Some children will be more adventurous and determined to feed themselves more than others. For families that follow a baby-led weaning approach, finger foods are what they start with when introducing solids. It is important to highlight that your infant needs to show signs of readiness to do so.
If you start with pureed foods for baby’s first tastes, it is recommended to start offering finger foods from the 7-8 month mark to encourage a progression of textures and increase a wider acceptance of foods. Read more on when to introduce first foods such as finger foods here.
Finger foods also encourage your child to develop skills with their hands and skills in feeding themselves.
Important things to remember
- Cut safe size (finger) pieces/ wedges of food for your baby so that it is long enough for them to grab with their fist and feed themselves. The pieces need to be long enough so some of it pokes out above their grip on the food.
- Make sure that the finger foods are soft enough for them to safely eat. They need to be able to squish the food between their tongue and the roof of their mouth as this is how they first start eating. A helpful guide is food soft enough that mushes between your fingers but not too soft that it all falls apart when they grab it. That does sound like lots of fun though!!
- Finger foods that have longitudinal fibres hold together well and make it easier for your child to hold and feed themselves. Examples include batons of steamed sweet potato, florets of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, longitudinal sliced cucumber, and a slice of rockmelon.
- Avoid hard foods such as raw apple and whole round foods such as cherry tomatoes, grapes and blueberries. Remove the peel and membrane of foods such as oranges. These pose a choking risk.
- Entice curiosity and fun! Let them explore the food; even if that means half of it ends up on their face or all over themselves. When starting out in this way of eating, they are learning a new skill and coming across all sorts of different textures.
- Never leave your child alone when eating; even if you feel they are confident with the food you are offering them.
So, what foods make great first finger foods?
- Steamed or oven-baked sweet potato, carrot, zucchini and pumpkin batons
- Steamed green beans, snow peas, broccoli and cauliflower florets
- Peeled and lightly steamed apple and pear
- Wedges of avocado, mango, papaya and peeled peach
- Longitudinal slices of ripe banana
What are some ideas once we are past the first finger foods stage?
Once your child has gotten the knack of feeding themselves and is ready for some varied finger food options, try:
- Strips of slow-cooked meat that hold well together
- Boiled egg cut into wedges
- Longitudinal slices of cucumber, rockmelon and watermelon
- Cherry tomatoes cut into halves or quarters
- Frittata fingers
- Homemade chicken bites and meatballs
- Toast fingers spread with hummus or avocado
Looking for more support in transitioning your child to solids? Have a read of our similar blogs here. Want to work with a practitioner to make sure your child is eating a good mix of nutrients and minerals? Book an initial nutrition consultation with Summer to ensure your child is getting the optimal nutrition in this vital transition period.