How to Make Finger Foods

May 25, 2020

blog watch me bloom, recipes for growing me ~9 months, how to make finger foods, close up of baby boy with mouth full and fingers spread out

In our last blog, we talked about the importance of introducing texture to your baby's diet and learned that this should occur by 9-12 months of age (provided that your infant shows signs of developmental readiness). It was interesting to note, this recommendation occurs as infants typically undergo change in the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, and oral cavity—allowing them to not only accept new foods other than breastmilk or formula (at around 6 months)—but can also manage foods other than purees (around 8-9 months old). See our blog on “The Importance of Texture in Your Baby’s Diet for more information on this topic. Introducing texture during this stage can enhance chewing skills and lead to a greater receptivity of different foods later in life. [1] Also, offering finger foods promotes self-feeding and gives infants a chance to develop autonomy. [2]

assortment of foods in baby finger bowls: green grapes, raspberries, cheerios, blueberries, yogurt, kiwi chopped, red grapes, green apple, avocado, banana slices, rice grain, mango

 

Transitioning to more complex textures can certainly make some parents a little uneasy. Signs to watch for include the following:

  • Up-down movements of the jaw and ability to move the tongue from side to side
  • Ability to move objects in the mouth across the midline
  • A desire from your baby to bring foods to mouth and explore foods with hands, lips, etc. [3]

Okay, so now that you know your infant is ready to progress to textures, what are the best finger foods to offer your baby? It is recommended to avoid foods high in sugar, such as store-bought food pouches that do not offer the nutritional benefits that come from fresh foods. [4] Finger foods should also be soft, easy to swallow and cut into bite sizes. 

Some examples of first finger foods that follow these guidelines include:

Fruits & Veggies

  • Avocado – cut into bite sizes
  • Blueberries – cut in half
  • Broccoli – chop into bite sizes, steam
  • Carrots – cut into bite sizes, steam until soft
  • Cauliflower - chop into bite sizes, steam
  • Green Beans – cut into bite sizes, steam
  • Kiwi – cut into bite sizes
  • Peas – steam and smash
  • Peppers – cut into bite sizes, steam until soft
  • Potato – cut into bite sizes, bake until soft
  • Strawberries – cut into bite sizes
  • Squash – cut into bite sizes, bake until soft
  • Tomatoes – cut into bite sizes
  • Watermelon – cut into bite sizes
  • Zucchini – cut into bit sizes, steam until soft

Protein

  • Beans – cook and smash
  • Cheese – shred soft cheeses or cut into bite sizes
  • Chickpeas – cook and smash
  • Eggs – scramble or hard-boil, chop
  • Fish – debone and cook, flake into bite sizes (avoid fish high in mercury)
  • Lentils – cook and smash
  • Meat – whole meats cut into tiny bit sizes or cook minced meats
  • Tofu – cook, cut into bite sizes

Whole Grain Foods

  • Brown Rice – cook *little rice balls might be easier 
  • Quinoa – cook *little quinoa balls might be easier 
  • Whole grain bread/toast – cut into bite sizes, can be topped with nut butter or hummus for added taste
  • Whole wheat pasta – cook small noodles such as macaroni or shells

baby hand grabbing cherry tomatoes, chopped, pita

Tidbit for Your Tiny One

There is evidence to suggest there is a ’sensitive period’ in infant development; and therefore, delaying the introduction of textures past 10 months of age can impact chewing skills and texture acceptance of a variety of foods later on. [5]

The following recipe poem is an excerpt from our upcoming book Recipes for Growing Me ~9 months:

sample page from recipes for growing me ~9 months, baby's first cookbook series, “F is for…Finger Foods, happy face blue hand character illustration on soft turquoise background with green banana leaves and banana slices, black lettering poem

F is for...finger foods

So maybe I eat 
My fingers and my toes
But it’s really the ‘finger foods’
That can satisfy my woes
They give me control
And help my fine grasping too
As I pick them up
I also learn how to chew
Diced bananas are 
A wonderful example
Cut them in bite sizes 
For me to dine and sample

We hope we’ve contributed something beneficial to your baby’s diet, and remember…don’t hog the blog! Share with new moms today!

Have a bloomin’ day!
Sarah & Karen


*Bibliography:  

[1] Demonteil, L. Ksiazek, E., Marduel, A., Dusoulier, M., Weenen, H., Tournier, C., Nicklaus, S. (2018). Patterns and predictors of food texture introduction in French children aged 4-36 months. British Journal of Nutrition, 120, 1065-1017. 

[2] DynaMed, (2017). Feeding the term infant: overview and recommendations. Dynamed. http://www.dynamed.com

[3] DynaMed, (2017). Feeding the term infant: overview and recommendations. Dynamed. http://www.dynamed.com

[4] Koletzko, B., Buhrer, Christoph, Zimmer, Klaus-Peter, (2019). Complementary foods in baby food pouches: position statement from the Nutrition Commission of the German Society for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Mol Cell Pediatr, Dec; 6:2, doi:10.1186/s40348-019-0089-6

[5] Demonteil, L. Ksiazek, E., Marduel, A., Dusoulier, M., Weenen, H., Tournier, C., Nicklaus, S. (2018). Patterns and predictors of food texture introduction in French children aged 4-36 months. British Journal of Nutrition, 120, 1065-1017.

 
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Watch Me Bloom, you can buy our Recipes for Growing Me ~6 months book, say hello on Facebook or follow us on Instagram. If you liked this blog, share it with a new mom. Reading this for the first time? Subscribe and receive a complimentary digital download of our ‘Love Me Forever’ Digital Print to frame in your nursery or child’s room.




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