From around about 7 months it is a really good idea to start offering your little one finger foods at mealtimes. Finger foods are important for your little one and they can:
- Make an important contribution to babies food intake
- Help baby to learn how to bite and chew
- Help to develop your little ones hand-eye coordination
- Teach baby how much to bite off
- Help introduce them to new foods
- Allow little ones to explore what different foods look and feel like
- Help teach baby to grip and hold pieces of food
- Encourage self-feeding practices
Initially, it may best to start with softer finger foods, remembering to; wash all fruits and vegetables, remove any tough peel, pips or seeds and also to cook/boil any fruit or vegetables that may be hard for them to eat right away. Even with no teeth, baby’s gums will be hard; with the teeth just below the surface of the gums and so baby will be more that equipped to start munching on soft finger foods. As baby gets used to finger foods and starts developing more teeth and a stro
nger bite you can start offering more variety of finger foods which won’t necessarily need to be boiled or softened so much.
Great finger food examples
Fruit fingers e.g. (most fruits are ideal)
- Orange segments
- Pear (maybe with skin removed)
- Softened apples (maybe with skin removed)
Vegetable fingers e.g. (most vegetables are ideal)
- Cooked peppers
- Cooked carrots
Starchy foods e.g.
- Cooked potatoes
- Toast fingers
- Pitta bread strips
- Baby breadsticks
- Cooked pasta shapes
Protein foods e.g.
- Eggs (hard boiled)
- Chicken pieces
- Fresh fish strips
- Broad beans
- Green beans
- Cheese pieces
Finger foods to avoid!
Rusks – with almost a third of these being sugar these are best to avoid as preferences to sweet foods are easily developed in children and this could also lead to your little one refusing other healthier finger food options.
Baby biscuits – although these are advertised as food for your baby, unfortunately, it doesn’t make them very suitable. These biscuits are often no different from adult ones and packed with sugar, salt and even additives.
Baby crisps – again, often advertised for your little ones these crisps do nothing but encourage a taste for adult crisps and junk foods. Often packaged in the same way as an adult packet of crisps these soft finger foods are not recommended if you want start your baby on a path to eating well.
Fried foods – fried foods such as chips or chicken contain little in the way of good nutrition but with a great deal of calories. Children need to have nutrient-packed foods and also it is important not to develop a taste for fried foods from such a young age.
Nuts– babies could choke on whole nuts and so although smooth nut butters and nuts in food is fine from 6 months, whole nuts are not recommended.
Dried fruits – although these are a great food and often contain lots of essential iron, if dried fruit is eaten alone they can stick to the teeth and increase the risk of tooth decay. Therefore only offer dried fruit as part of a meal or alongside other foods.