Introducing finger foods is an exciting and nerve-wracking time. A few challenges might be encountered, mess, allergies, and choking hazards. You should certainly exercise caution, follow the nutritional health tips, and let the growing child practice the art of self-feeding.
Foods or food items that babies can pick and eat by themselves are called finger foods. Some parents introduce these foods to babies from six to eight months. Introducing it earlier than six months can put a child at an increased risk of choking, as the digestive tract is not well-developed.
There’s no hard or fast rule when introducing finger foods. However, as time goes by, the child learns how to feed himself. On the other hand, experts recommend best to begin with small portions of soft food that will dissolve easily. It’s good to give the baby less food to avoid wastage. The amount of food to give can be increased depending on age and how hungry the baby gets.
There are several signs of readiness an infant should be showing for a mother to know when to start finger foods for baby. They include:
- They can pick up food and put it into their mouth.
- Able to mash food between gums.
- Losing interest in foods baby’s been eating.
- Able to sit without support.
- Can hold head high.
Health and Safety Finger Food Tips
The World Health Organization recommends introducing finger foods at 6 months of age. In line with WHO, parents must follow health and safety tips when choosing the best finger foods for their babies.
There are a variety of foods that one can introduce and choose from. However, breast milk and formula will still go hand in hand with these foods.
Some finger foods include;
Fruits: parents can mix the fruits or give them one at a time. Examples of fruits are; Bananas, Peaches, plums, pears, Melon, Blueberry, Avocado, Kiwi, mango, steamed apple, etc.
Vegetables: could be boiled or steamed to soften them. However, it may be necessary to peel them as well. Vegetables such as white and sweet potatoes can be roasted or steamed, baked, and seasoned with ghee to make them tastier.
Grains and Dairy: there are lots of options in grains, dairy, and other foods like; tofu, meat, fish (baked salmon), dried cereals, and scrambled eggs.
When choosing finger foods for babies, it’s important to consider a well-balanced diet, softness, cooking methods, and size of the portion. These should be soft enough to be squished between two fingers. Hard vegetables and fruits should be steamed or roasted to make them soft to avoid choking. The size of the foods to serve matters a lot; chop them into smaller pieces to make grasping easier.
Peel fruits, remove seeds, and limit salty and sugary finger foods. When introducing solid foods, allergic foods are given one at a time in small amounts. By doing so, a parent can spot any reaction that might occur.