You will entirely lead the first stage of your child’s eating habits. As your child reaches about nine months, though, they will be ready to transition to feeding themselves.
This change brings with it great opportunities to impart good eating habits, but also comes with a few things to consider.
Your child will naturally be curious to play with new foods and try different textures. That curiosity is good, and you should use it to help bring a wide variety of foods into your child’s diet.
Let’s take a look at some of the best finger foods you can safely serve to your baby.
Whenever you’re examining a new food and trying to decide whether or not it’ll be OK to serve to your child, the main factor you’ll want to consider is whether or not they can safely chew and swallow the food.
Especially early on, your baby will be using only their gums to mush up their food.
Gums are tough, tougher than you might think, but they can’t break down all the same foods that a mouth full of teeth can.
Also, make sure any food that may be easily choked on such as whole grapes are sliced appropriately.
We’re going to talk about several specific foods that work well with young eaters, but keep in mind as we go on that just about any fruit or vegetable can be a candidate as long as they’re prepared correctly.
At first, try to avoid any foods that are hard and don’t easily break down once they enter your mouth.
Keep in mind that some foods, like puffed cereals (e.g., Cheerios or Puffs), might be crunchy in their normal state but break down pretty quickly once they hit the mouth.
If you’re ever unsure about a specific food, take a small piece of it and put it in your mouth. Does the food ‘melt’ right away, without you having to do much actual chewing? If so, it’s a good candidate as a first solid food item.
Little Bites for Little Mouths
Speaking of small pieces, the other step to consider is to always prepare food by cutting everything down into small, diced pieces.
Small pieces of food are much more challenging to choke on and are easier for your child to gum down to a manageable state. Always cut things up for your baby before letting them take control.
At this stage, every food is a finger food! Let them explore new foods with their sense of touch and taste.
For most children, you have to be persistent and expose them to an unfamiliar food 15 to 20 times before they’ll even put it in their mouth!
I would take the smashing of a new type of food as a major win in any household.
Raw or Softened Fruits
These are a deliciously sweet food to keep on hand.
Raw fruits, except berries, may be difficult for your little ones to chew, however, can be used as a teething tool and will expose them to the whole, fresh fruits.
Apples and pears are easily made tender by cooking them down enough to be eaten by your littles.
Bananas are another very soft fruit, but only if the banana itself is ripe enough to be mushy. Just be aware that bananas are constipating.
Variety of Veggies
Zucchini, eggplant, or tomatoes are all great options because they become very tender when cooked.
A helpful technique for preparing your baby’s dinner along with the rest of the families is to cook the vegetables and leave a small portion to cook a little while longer for the baby.
Once these items are nicely rendered down, babies can take on small servings of them with ease.
There are lots of dairy products that babies love. Specifically soft cheeses, and yogurt.
Try dicing some cheddar or mozzarella cheese, and get creative with changing the texture.
For example, shredded cheese will taste different on the palate than small cubes of diced cheese.
Let these new textures encourage your little one to explore the variety of mouth feels foods can have.
While most nuts are not acceptable for young ones in their raw, crunchy form, however, you can still introduce peanut butter or products containing peanuts around six months of age.
Hummus is a perfect food for baby to snack on right out of the container.
When it comes to protein such as meats, fish, and poultry, any type is safe as long as it’s cooked throughly.
Try making crockpot meals and pulling the tender meat apart. Give your child one tiny little piece or strip at a time. Never give the child anything that could contain bits of bone or gristle, as this may create a choking hazard.
If you choose to introduce meat into your child’s diet at this stage, it’s best to start with small, diced pieces of ground meat. It’s helpful to build your way up to bits right off the bone.
You want to be sure to include whole grains in your child’s meals, as they contain lots of nutrients vital for this stage of life.
Lots of soft grain products like muffins, pancakes, or French toast are tasty items to try out.
Noodles are a fantastic finger food option! They can be served cold or warm and in a variety of sauces.
This is especially helpful when your little one is on a tomato sauce jag, or is obsessed with pesto.
All Foods are Finger Foods
Your child’s first adventures of eating their own foods can be a very messy time of their life. But for the first time, you’re able to reward the baby’s natural desire to grab random items and put them into their mouth!
Make the most of this developmental stage by introducing your baby to a variety of new foods and flavors. As often as you’re able to get your little one to try new things, the easier it will be to land on healthy options as they age.
With these tips you can find all sorts of foods your baby will love.