When your baby reaches the point of being able to eat solid foods, this is a significant milestone. Knowing when your baby is ready should be a point of discussion with your pediatrician. You should also ask about foods that should be avoided due to allergy risks. As a rule of thumb, most babies develop an interest in baby finger foods anywhere between the ages of 6-9 months.
Many parents believe that a baby must have teeth before he’s able to handle baby finger foods. This is not true?babies are in fact adept at mashing many foods between their gums. The best candidates for these first solid foods are those which are soft, and, of course, appropriate to your baby’s age.
Introducing finger foods provides an additional developmental benefit, that of eye-hand coordination?getting that tempting bit of food to the taste buds. Most Moms know that young children can be ‘picky’ eaters, tending to shy away from new tastes. Introducing a variety of baby finger foods at this early age can make children more accepting of new tastes as they grow older, which can be a nutritional ‘plus’.
Before we get into listing some of the best baby finger foods, be advised that you should not add sugar or salt to these baby food preparations. You may be aware that most commercially prepared foods add both of these ingredients to make the food more appealing to the consumer’s palate. However, both sugar and salt add nothing to the nutritive value?we all get more than enough of these. Eliminating sugar and salt as taste enhancers in your baby’s finger foods generally results in older children who do not crave these substances in excess, a good thing!
On the other hand, aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and other sweet spices, such as basil, can help make baby finger foods more tempting to a little one, as well as broadening the scope of ‘acceptable’ foods in the future. You may also be surprised to learn that garlic is not only appealing to many babies, but a healthy addition to menus, helping to ward off many illnesses?garlic is a natural antibiotic!
Now for our list of the best baby finger foods. Keep in mind that all of these foods should be served in quite small dice. Fruits and veggies, such as fresh peaches and carrots should be cooked before serving, both to make them soft enough for baby to mash, as well as being easy on her developing digestive system. These foods can be served on their own, or made into a fruit or veggie mix.
Suitable fruits include bananas, melon, pears, peaches, mangoes, kiwi fruit and avocado.
For a veggie menu, try carrots, peas, green beans and yes, even broccoli!
Among meats that fill the bill, chicken, turkey, beef and low-mercury fish, such as tilapia will prove tempting treats.
Introducing grains such as cooked lentils, pasta and small cereal bits, such as Cheerios(TM) and Rice Krispies(TM) are good choices.
Cheeses, including cream cheese, a firm, diced tofu and scrambled egg yolks (the whites are not so easily digested) are other foods that are nutritionally excellent and add variety to baby’s diet and taste buds.
With your pediatrician’s approval, this list should provide baby finger foods he’ll enjoy and help him grow healthy and strong! Enjoy!