Introducing finger foods to your baby for the first time is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming.
With the wealth of information available you may be wondering what foods to start with, or even when to start. Do you try traditional weaning first, or start with baby-led weaning? Perhaps you could use a mixture of both? Do you ask your mum? Your friends? You can be guaranteed that everyone has a different opinion that can confuse rather than help.
Nicole Bentley, from Nutrition Australia Queensland, encourages parents to relax as much as they can when it comes to introducing foods to your baby. To help you on your journey, you can access free, reliable information from the First Five Years website. They provide advice, tools and support for parents to make the most of the first five years of their child’s life.
When do I introduce finger foods?
Finger food means anything your baby can grasp and bring to their mouth that is easy to eat. There is no hard and fast rule about when to start. Raisingchildren.net.au suggests that babies can start eating pieces of soft fruit from around 8 months of age.
Avocado and soft bananas are ideal first finger foods as they can be easily squashed by the baby’s jaw and tongue. You will be the best judge of your baby’s ability to manage different textures. As your baby grows and develops you can move from very soft foods through to firmer textures.
What are the benefits of finger foods?
Don’t wait too long to introduce finger foods! Eating finger foods can benefit your baby’s development in the following areas.
- Fine motor skills – your baby will start by grasping foods with their whole hand, progressing to using a pincer grip (thumb and first finger). Serving finger foods to your baby allows them to practice these skills many times a day.
- Hand-eye coordination – your baby must locate the food visually, reach for it, grasp it, and then bring it to their mouth. Repetition of these movements develops hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness.
- Independence – your baby can have more control over what they are eating and how much they are eating.
- Sensory signals – your baby will begin to recognise the different sensory information associated with different foods such as how they look, feel, smell and taste.
How do I introduce finger foods?
You know what finger foods are, you know when to introduce them, but how do you introduce them? Cut first finger foods into long pieces, about the size of your little finger, this allows your baby to grasp with their whole hand. It’s also important to ensure that hard foods have been steamed to make them soft. As your baby develops a pincer grip you can offer them smaller pieces of food.
Provide different textures, starting from soft foods and moving to firmer foods. Eating different textures will help your baby to learn how to use their tongue and jaw muscles. Here are some ideas for soft finger foods for babies from 8 months old, from Raising Children Network.
At this age, it’s all about experimentation and fun so don’t be afraid to try new things and also repeat the same foods again, even if they didn’t seem to enjoy them the first time. Know what types of foods to avoid and remember to always supervise your child actively while they are eating. The beauty of finger foods is that you can easily adapt the meal you are eating to suit your child and enjoy every mealtime at the table together!
The Kruzi Stroller can be used as a highchair against a standard height table, or with the attachable tray table included. With easy wipe-clean or machine washable fabrics, your child can be free to explore new tastes and textures safely and hygienically, no matter where you are. Click here to find out more about the world’s first hybrid stroller highchair.