Babies are adorable but getting them to eat can be a frustrating experience. Some babies are picky eaters while others are chronically colicky. Still others are happy go lucky and will eat anything and everything put in front of them. Introducing solid foods is an important transition for your baby. As their appetite and ability to chew increases, here are some top finger foods for babies.
Since babies can’t chew, it is important to offer bits of food that are both easy to gum and handle. Babies who are just beginning to eat solids love fruit. Bananas, grapes, and mangoes can be cut and mashed into small pieces. At this young age, be sure to choose food that will dissolve easily. Peels and firm pieces should discarded to avoid choking hazards.
Toasted oat cereal in small shapes is a staple that babies adore. Dry cereal is easy to pack for outings, and won’t make stains if it gets spilled. The baby aisle in your local grocery store should offer a variety of these cereals. To add protein, incorporate hard boiled eggs. If you want to avoid a mess, give your baby just the egg whites, saving the yolk for another meal. Bits of soft bread and rolls are other great finger foods for babies to gum.
Vegetables should be introduced early and often. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are great choices. Tiny pieces of steamed green beans, peas, and carrots are all easy to gum before the teeth come in. However, non-steamed items like black beans, and firm carrots should be avoided until your baby can chew in a safer manner.
It is important to provide well balanced, nutritionally significant meals, especially if your baby is no longer nursing. After some time practicing with softer foods, bits of meat can be introduced. Tiny pieces of chicken, ground beef, and turkey provide great options for protein. You can add a dollop of sour cream or ketchup to help your baby practice dipping and handling their food. Meal time often becomes a fun opportunity to make a mess, so start out sparingly with condiments.
As you feed your baby, think about practicalities. There are many expensive utensils on the market that purport to make feeding easier and less time consuming. Some of these items may help but some will make feeding time more complicated because more preparation is involved. Your baby can eat finger foods right off of a clean high chair tray, or at the table with a safely secured booster seat. On the go, these foods can be stored in plastic food bins or plastic baggies.
Babies are particularly perceptible to the development of food allergies when certain foods are introduced too early. Dairy, nuts, strawberries and even eggs can trigger a potentially life threatening allergy. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about when to introduce these foods during a checkup. Watching a baby’s joy and reaction to new tastes and textures is a wonderful memory. Enjoy the show!