Is it the right time to start your baby on finger food? How to tell if your baby is ready? It’s really exciting to see your little one start nibbling on finger foods, while at the same time it’s equally nerve-racking to scan everything your little one eats. Looking out for foods that can cause allergy and chocking hazards. There are a lot of options for finger food which can make eating a fun activity and encourages them to eat healthy.
As per the recent study, there is no specific age to start your baby on finger foods. Some babies take time to start chewing on soft food, while for the others its like they have been at it for some time. Watch out for these signs that say your baby is ready for finger food.
- If your baby is all fussing when they see you eat is a sign, as they learn by imitating parents.
- Grabbing the spoon, bowl or even your hand while feeding them
- Putting the spoon in their mouth and trying to eat
- Trying to use their forefinger and thumb to pick food
These are the typical signs that your child is ready to eat on their own. If your baby is sitting up without any support also means your child is ready.
If you think your child needs to teethe to be able to start on finger food, you may be wrong. Most babies don’t need to teethe to eat puffed and soft finger food. Their gums are strong enough to grind the soft finger food. Irrespective of when you start your baby on finger food, doctors advise to start with tiny pieces of soft food that melt away in baby’s mouth.
Introducing Finger Food
When the baby is introduced to solids, their main nutrition still comes from breast-milk/formula. The best way to do it with ease is to feed one spoon of mashed baby food and also allow the baby to feed itself in between spoons. Lay out a few small pieces of finger food on the high chair tray and let the baby try to get into the mouth. If the baby feels too frustrated, go ahead and help out.
Allow your baby to take lead and follow cues. It’s natural for your baby to make faces and not accept a new food or texture for the first time. If you see your baby’s face crinkle, stop and try again later.
Remember this is process is going to get very messy, letting it be that way is important. As the baby is exploring a new skill and this also helps improve the motor skills and develops a sense of independence. Try and include various textures of food which helps with oral patterns. It’s also important to supervise your baby when it comes to finger food and watch out for chocking.
Choosing Finger Foods
Choosing the best finger food for your baby can be a tricky task. Over a period of time your baby gets used to moving food around in the mouth and chew with ease.
Avoid giving large pieces of fruits, vegetables and snacks that are hard to melt in baby’s mouth. Try and stay away from food items like whole grapes, nuts popcorn and whole candies as they can cause choking hazards.
The one mistake most parents make is giving them snacks that are meant for adults – like potato chips and aerated juices etcetera. They have high salts and sugar which is not healthy for the baby. Experts suggest to try and avoid adding salt and sugar while cooking meals for babies as their tiny kidneys will still not be ready to process high salts in the body.
Here are a few foods that you can try at home
- Puffed finger food
- Small bread pieces
- Eggs that are boiled, scrambled or even an omelette with very little salt and spices
- Fruits – like apple, banana, peach, watermelon etc
- Cooked vegetables