There is nothing cuter than watching your little one chase food around the highchair tray with her fingers, and seeing the sense of accomplishment in her face when a tiny little piece of food actually makes it her mouth.
When your baby is between eight and nine months old, you can begin to introduce finger foods to encourage your baby to begin self-feeding. It is very important that the texture of finger foods be very soft, so that your baby can gum the foods. To get food soft enough for gumming, many of them will need to be cooked.
Examples of finger foods that can be served raw include small pieces of:
- Semi-hard cheeses — Jack, Colby, (introduce over 12 months)
- O shaped cereal
- Puffed rice cereal
Examples of cooked finger foods:
- Apples slices
- Pear slices
- Whole asparagus spears
- Carrots sticks/rounds or baby carrots
- Zucchini or yellow squash rounds
- Broccoli spears
- Sweet potato slices or cubes
- Whole green beans
To smooth the way for introducing finger foods here are few tips that may help you out:
- Always feed your baby in a seated position. The risk of choking rises as you introduce finger foods.
- Never let your baby eat foods without adult supervision.
- Don’t be in a rush. Introduce finger foods one at a time and slowly add different ones.
- Continue to feed your baby softly pureed baby foods for most of the meal, and transition to more finger foods over a six- to eight-month period.
- Start with foods your baby likes.
Here are few finger food recipes to help you get started with finger food fun!
Sweet Potato Cubes
Your baby will like the bright orange color and sweet taste of these little morsels. Babies have a natural sweet tooth developed from drinking breast milk or formula, which are sweet. The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes make them a favorite among babies!
Wash, peel and dice a sweet potato into small cubes about 1/2-inch in size. Place the cubes in microwave-safe dish, cover, and cook them in the microwave on HIGH for 5 to 7 minutes. Let them stand for 5 minutes. You’ll know they are done if you can mash them with a fork.
Add a little spice in her life: Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg or ground ginger on the sweet potato cubes before you cook them for a little extra flavor.
Storage: Covered container. Stays fresh four to five days in the refrigerator or up to two months in the freezer.
Age to introduce: About nine months
Cinnamon Apple Slices
Your baby will like the sweet juicy flavor and the challenge of picking these up will help develop her fine motor skills. These are super easy to make and great for any meal or as a snack!
Wash, peel and core 1-2 golden delicious apples. Cut the apples into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices of apples in plastic bag and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon over the apples slices. Close the bag and shake it up so the cinnamon is distributed evenly over all of the slices. Place the slices in a microwave safe dish and cook them in the microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Let them stand for 5 minutes. They are done if a fork slides into them easily. Cool completely before serving.
Storage: Lasts four to five days in the refrigerator or up to two months in the freezer.
Age to introduce: About nine months
Dusted Tofu Cubes
These nutritious, little cubes are fun to pick up and they taste good too! For a little variety, you can use banana instead of tofu.
1/4 teaspoon flax seed, finely ground
1-2 tablespoons of Cheerios (or other cereal) OR 2-3 graham crackers
5-6 1/2-inch cubes of firm tofu
Place ground flax seed and cereal/graham crackers in a bag and crush into crumbs. Add tofu and shake lightly to coat the tofu cubes with the crumb mixture. Serve immediately.
Age to introduce: Over 12 months (without flax seed 8-10 months)
About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of Fresh Baby (www.FreshBaby.com). Raised by parents who love fresh foods and entertaining, their mom, a gourmet cook, ensured that they were well-equipped with extraordinary skills in the kitchen. Both with long track records of business success, they decided to combine their skills in the kitchen with their knowledge of healthy foods and children to create Fresh Baby. Cheryl and Joan put a modern twist on the conventional wisdom that when you make it yourself, you know it’s better. Their goal at Fresh Baby is to make the task of raising a healthy eater a little bit easier for all parents. Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family’s healthy eating habits!