#babyjake was entirely toothless until after his first birthday. And it took really long for his top teeth to eventually emerge. But he managed to eat each and every single item on this list without teeth. I was continually amazed at how he could get every last corn kernel off a steamed mielie – with not a single tooth to assist him.
So moral of the story: your baby does not need teeth to eat finger foods.
For the moms who worry about choking, here are some safety precautions:
I’m the wrong mom to ask if you’ve got a fear of choking… I was never paranoid about the risk of choking. (In fact the leading cause of choking deaths in young children is latex balloons – so worry more about what’s lying around your house).
Jake has never truly choked – and the few times he has gagged, he manages to self-regulate the situation and sort himself out just fine (there is a big difference between true choking and gagging). You’d be amazed at how sharp their natural survival gag reflexes are.
While I am not paranoid, I’m not reckless either. Here are some safety precautions:
- Jake never eats unattended – he always eats fully supervised.
- Everyone who looks after him (myself included and our nanny) has attended a first aid infant CPR course.
- Never stick your hand into baby’s mouth in an attempt to dislodge a piece of food, it will only get further trapped in the windpipe
- Watch this basic Infant First Aid Choking video before doing anything else. View here.
- If your child has a forceful cough and is crying or vocal (i.e. if they are making an audible sound), let the child get the food or object out themselves. Coughing is the most effective way to dislodge a blockage.
- If your child can’t make a sound and is silently choking, have someone call your local emergency number, while you administer infant choking first-aid.
- Large chunks of soft foods are actually safer, and pose less of a choking risk, than cutting things into teeny tiny pieces. Aim for large chip or wedge size as a general rule of thumb.
- When starting out, opt for softer foods. If you can squish it with your fingers, they can squish it with their gums.
- Once your baby has the hang of finger foods, don’t be too scared of hard foods. #babyjake gnawed at an apple like a little hamster, gumming his way through the whole apple until it was down to nothing but the core.
Bottom line: from my experience, finger foods are a wonderful and natural part of your child’s culinary development.
When to offer finger foods:
Some moms dive into finger foods from 6 months (those who follow true Baby Led Weaning). Others wait until around 8 months. But by 10 months, it is very much the norm to have your baby self-feeding a variety of suitable finger foods.
I followed a Combined Feeding approach:
I followed a varied approach to get Jake used to feeding himself. From around 9 or 10 months, I still gave him his 3 meals a day – which were quite mushy. But in addition to these meals, I gave him finger foods as SNACKS to get him used to feeding himself. I found that this approach helped him get comfortable with foods other than mushed purees. This way, I was ensured that Jake was still eating proper meals (the mushed stuff) while also getting the hang of self-feeding.
(If you would like more tips on graduating from smooth purees to texture, you can send me an email and I will email you a bunch of tricks).
You can give all of the items on my list as snacks. Or if your little one is only self-feeding, you can mix and match a few of these ideas to make a meal of it. Lots of these ideas are also great for getting more veggies in – so even if baby isn’t eating all that well at mealtimes, you can sneak some veggies in through these finger food ideas.
So without further delay, here is the long awaited list of #babyjake’s TOP 50 Favourite Finger Foods:
Note: many of these can be squashed if you are worried about choking (e.g. the blueberries and chickpeas etc). Remember, if you can squish it with your fingers, they can squish with their gums.
Ideas that Require Zero Prep:
- Tinned Chickpeas
- Tinned Lentils
- Tinned Beans (eg kidney beans or butter beans)
- Sliced Cheese / Grated Cheese / Cheese Cubes / Cheese Wedges
- Chunky Cottage Cheese (messy but works)
- A spoonful of nut butter (fun texture experience for baby)
- Rice Cakes
- Pitted Olives (not every baby’s taste but try)
Best Raw Veggie Finger Foods:
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Red and Yellow Pepper Fingers
- Cucumber Sticks
- Cucumber Noodles (made using a spiralizer)
- Hummus for dipping (recipe over here)
- Cherry Tomatoes (cut length-wise or in quarters)
Best Fruity Finger Foods:
- Banana slices topped with Almond Butter (can add some sesame or chia seeds too)
- A whole banana (peeled)
- Avocado Cubes
- Whole Strawberries
- Blueberries / Raspberries
- Grapes (always cut length-wise)
- Apple slices/wedges or a whole apple (take a bite to start the apple for them)
- Paw Paw / Papaya Pieces
- Sweet Melon Chunks
- Naartjie or Orange Segments
- Guava (whole or cubed / sliced)
- Mango (plus the mango pip)
Tip: You can use cookie cutters to cut some fruit into shapes to make it more exciting
These Require Basic Prep:
- Steamed / Cooked Frozen Peas (great for fine motor co-ord and pincer grip)
- Steamed / Cooked Mixed Freezer veggies (the mixes you get with carrots / corn / beans and peas)
- Steamed Edamame Beans (now available at Woolies in freezer section)
- Soft Boiled Pasta (opt for wholewheat)
- Hard Boiled Egg / Scrambled Egg / Omelette Fingers
- Sautéed Mushrooms (a fave! Use some mixed dried herbs + coconut or olive oil or butter)
- Oven Roasted Root Veggie Cubes / Fingers (butternut / sweet potato / carrot etc)
- Boiled Beetroot Cubes (a favourite!)
- Zucchinni Noodles / Butternut Spaghetti (make your own or get from Woolies)
- Kale Chips or Zucchini Chips (roast in oven with olive oil)
- Steamed Mielies / Corn-on-the-cobb (even with zero teeth, #babyjake managed to get all the kernels off)
- Steamed Sliced Carrot Discs (or boil in some stock for more flavour)
- Grated Carrot (or Grated Apple)
- Steamed Baby Marrow / Zucchini
- Grated and Sautéed Baby Marrow
- Steamed Broccoli Florets / Cauliflower Florets
- Brown Rice
- Homemade Frozen Lollies / Popsicles
- Cooked/Steamed Apple or Pear Pieces with Cinnamon
- Rotisserie Chicken Drumsticks
Easy Recipes for Finger Foods – Our Best!
These are all #babyjake’s Absolute Favourites! Plus you can make in bulk and freeze some of these:
- Baby Biscuits with Hidden Protein (recipe over here)
- The Date Balls (my all time favourite snack for #babyjake. Make in bulk + freeze. Recipe here)
- 3 Ingredient Berry Bites (also a fave but only when eaten warm. Recipe here)
- Veggie Quiche Cakes (recipe here)
- Veggie Cups (but you roll the mixture into little balls. Recipe here)
- Spinach Fritters (recipe here)
When out & about:
Hell hath no fury like a hungry toddler. So I keep the mini boxes of Organix raisins and some superfood raw bars in my car’s cubbyhole and handbag. And when out and about at the shops with Jake, I always go for the following items which he eats in the trolley:
- Tub of fresh blueberries (he eats them straight from the tub without washing *gasp*)
- Raw Fruit Bars from Woolworths
- Nakd Bars from Dischem (Berry Delight is his best flavour)
- Raisins (Organix)
- Little cheeses
- Banting Rusks (Fresh Earth range from Dischem)
Hope you found this list useful! Please spread the love and share on FB and with all your fellow mommy friends! And subscribe if you haven’t already.
And comment below to share your baby’s favourite finger foods 🙂
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