finger foodS
Feeding

Finger foods for babies

Self-feeding and finger foods for babies can open up a whole new world of eating. Here are some tips and ideas to help your little one progress onto the next stage of solid foods.

Until now, you have been the primary spoon holder when feeding your baby. But have you noticed your baby making a grab for the spoon? Or becoming more keen to feed himself? This is the best time to introduce him to finger foods.

But before you introduce finger foods, encourage your baby to chew by giving foods that have a few soft lumps. According to Safe Food, most babies can start to chew soft lumps, such as mashed baked beans, rice pudding or minced or finely chopped meat, from six/seven months even if they have no teeth.

 

Babies are able to cope better with lumps if they are introduced early. This is really important for the development of speech muscles. Finger foods provide chewing practice and encourage babies to feed themselves. These can also be given from six/seven months.

Baby’s tastebuds

You might feel as if you are moving on quite quickly, but you’ll be surprised at how fast your baby can progress – this is one of the benefits of waiting until six months to start weaning.

When babies begin to feed themselves, they start to enjoy their food more and appreciate the new tastes and textures. They can become more adventurous and move on from their usual baby purées and mushy cereals. According to Safefood, if you delay giving ‘lumpy’ or finger foods, you may find that your baby refuses to eat ‘lumpy’ foods as they get older.

finger foods

Suitable finger foods for babies include:

✔ toast, bread, pitta bread

✔ peeled apple

✔ banana

✔ cooked green beans, carrot sticks (make sure the carrot sticks are small enough for baby)

✔ Reduced-sugar rusks

Finger foods to avoid

Avoid foods that can cause choking and those with little nutritional value:

✘ pieces of raw vegetables or hard fruits

✘ whole grapes, berries, cherry or grape tomatoes (instead, peel and slice or cut in quarters)

✘ raisins and other dried fruit

✘ peanuts, nuts, and seeds

✘ chunks of hard cheese or meat

✘ sweets

✘ popcorn, crisps and other snack foods

✘ marshmallows

Top tip

Allow your child to self-feed as much as possible, though you’ll still be helping out by spoon-feeding cereal and other important dietary elements.

More like this:

How to get baby started on solids
A guide to weaning
Weaning babies onto solid food

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….