Introducing Baby Finger Food: When to Allow Babies and Toddlers to Feed Themselves

It can be nerve racking introducing finger foods for the first time. There are so many questions – when to start, how to know when the baby is ready, what foods to start with, and of course, how to know if it is safe.

How to Know Baby is Ready for Finger Foods

The scare of choking can lead many parents to push off introducing finger foods for longer than necessary. Some do not realize a baby's gums can be a very effective tool for mashing food. Just make sure the foods being introduced are soft and easily broken down.

There are a few indications to look for when trying to determine if the baby is ready for finger foods. It is often easy to tell that a baby is looking for something more when he starts showing interest in other people's food. A baby sitting up on his own and developing a grip with his fingers are a few more signs to help determine if he is ready.

Types of Finger Foods to Introduce

Many fruits and vegetables make great finger foods to start off with. Produce that comes soft is ideal for on-the-go snacks and quick meals. Some of the more firm foods need to be cooked before serving to make the chewing process easier for babies just starting out on the finger foods.

This is a list of some fruits and vegetables that are perfect served fresh and sliced into smaller pieces.

  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Soft pears
  • Melons
  • Peas

Some fruits and vegetables served best cooked and diced are listed below.

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Apples
  • Firmer pears

There are also many other snacks that parents can introduce to liven up their baby's diet and provide proper nutrition.

  • Dry toast cut into strips
  • Cooked pasta
  • Cereals such as Cheerios
  • Pieces of cheese
  • Scrambled egg yolks

If these foods are new to the child, remember to allow a few days between each new item to watch for allergies and reactions.

Advice for Introducing Finger Foods

Introducing finger food will have its ups and downs. On the one hand baby can now feed himself, (under close supervision). But on the other hand there will be a lot of mess, fussiness and stress to accompany this new feeding endeavour. Try and keep calm about the mess; it is to be expected and there is no getting past it. Allow baby to play and experiment with his food, he will be learning a lot about it right now.

Only give a few pieces at a time to avoid the rest being thrown on the floor. If worried about a mess on the floor lay out a blanket under the high chair to catch rogue finger food. Don't worry too much if baby doesn't take to some food right away, just try again in a few days.