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.
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.
Suitable finger foods for babies include:
✔ toast, bread, pitta bread
✔ peeled apple
✔ 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
✘ popcorn, crisps and other snack foods
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