Finger Food Ideas for babies and toddlers

As your little one grows up, the introduction of finger foods becomes increasingly important. Whether you are starting your little one off with a range of purees, or you are following the Baby Led Weaning approach, (or like many, somewhere in between), at some point in your little one's food journey, finding easy and delicious finger foods is important for nutritional variety as well as their development.

What are finger foods?

Finger Foods are food that babies can grip in their hands. According to Babycenter, the easiest finger foods for young babies are those that are chip-shaped, or have a natural handle, such as cooked broccoli spears. This is because when your baby first tries solids, they won't yet have developed a pincer grip. The pincer grip enables them to pick up food between their thumb and forefinger, and they'll develop it in the next few months. But for now, they can only clasp foods in their fists.

When should I introduce finger foods?

While every baby and parent is different and there is no 'right' time to start finger food, it is recommended that infants are mostly able to self feed by 12 months of age. Those families that have chosen to do Baby Led Weaning start their babies on finger foods from the time that solid food is introduced. Many families who follow more of a traditional weaning style, begin introducing simple finger foods from about 7-8 months of age.

Please note, nutritionists and doctors generally do not recommended that you begin finger foods before 6 months of age and remember that your baby should be able to sit up independently and hold their head up before introducing any form of solid food. Do not wait too long to introduce finger food. By one year, your baby should be able to self-feed most of the time, and share many of the meals with the rest of the family (even if they are modified for them by being chopped up or further mixed).

What are some good finger foods for babies and toddlers?

Some of the easiest finger foods include fresh fruit, fresh or steamed veggies, cheese as well as some foods that you have prepared and are easy for your little one to hold themselves!

Some quick and easy finger foods include:

  • Bananas
  • Mixed berries (cut in half/quarters depending on the size)
  • Grapes (always cut grapes lengthwise in half or quarters or they are a choking hazard)
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Broccoli spears
  • Steamed carrot sticks and beans
  • Cooked pumpkin, sweet potato or potato chunks or spears
  • Peas
  • Avocado slices
  • Pears or apple slices
  • Cheese cubes
  • Yoghurt in the BabySqueez

Some of our other favourite finger foods, that require a little more preparation, include:

Some things to avoid when choosing food for your little one:

  • Foods that are high risk for choking – whole nuts, grapes, cherry tomatoes, popcorn
  • Honey (for all babies under 12 months)
  • Added sugar or salt 
  • Caffeinated foods such as chocolate, tea, coffee
  • Processed foods

As your toddler grows and may need a little extra incentive to try new things, try serving veggies and fruit in different shapes - try celery or carrot 'trains' filled with peanut butter or using a small cutter to cut fruit into different shapes. For more finger food ideas, search our bank of recipes here.

 


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