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 Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
MUST READ

Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.