Introducing finger foods
Finger foods is another exciting developmental stage for you and your baby. The experience should be fun for your baby as well as helping to develop their independence, their fine motor skills and coordination. While it is important to be offering nutritious foods for the nutrients they provide it is also important to offer a range of foods for exposing our babies to a variety of textures, aroma and colours. And yes, this stage will be messy too!
The Ministry of Health recommendations for starting solids involves ‘starting with spoon-fed pureed foods when baby is ready (around 6 months), then moving onto mashed and chopped foods over the next few months. Finger foods are offered from 7-8 months when baby is able to pick them up, bring them to their mouth and chew them”.
Finger foods are an important part of our children’s development. When our babies start finger foods, they will have the ability to pick up foods with their whole hand and over time they will become more efficient and independent as they master the pincer grip around 9 months. Their tongue patterns will improve with practice which will help them progress with different textures.
While your baby may be wanting to grab everything, it is important to only be offering foods that are safe for both your babies age and abilities.
- Steamed vegetables are a great first finger food.Cook until they are soft enough that they can be easily squished between your fingers.
- Other great finger foods include: baked porridge fingers, baked eggs, avocado slices, banana fingers, pasta, chopped hard boiled eggs, cooked meats
- The foods should require minimal chewing as your baby may not have teeth as of yet.
- Offer foods that are the right size for your baby to hold in their sized hands.
- Avoid choking hazards such as compressible foods (sausages, popcorn), sticky (nut butters) and stringy foods (celery), hard round foods (nuts, grapes, raw vegetables)
- Always feed your baby in a highchair to reduce the risk of choking
And remember – always follow your own baby’s cues and let them guide you.
- Ministry of Health Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Infants and Toddlers aged 0-2 years: A background paper