Posts Tagged ‘finger food’

Starting Finger Foods

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Starting Finger FoodsAt around eight or nine months your baby might start letting you know that they’d like to feed themselves. The first signs may be trying to grab the spoon away from you or trying to grab food off your plate. Although it can be very messy, independent eating is an important step for developing fine motor skills and independence, and they have a ton of fun!

When you first start allowing your baby to feed his or herself, remember that since they’re still learning it will be more for fun than calories. You can either begin with finger foods scattered on a plate or high chair or with larger chunks of food for them to gum on as is done in baby led weaning.

If you’d like to start with finger foods they can be a great complement to pureed foods.  Start with foods that are soft and don’t require a lot of teeth to eat. Make sure vegetables are well cooked and fruits are soft enough to be broken down by the gums.  If you find that the foods are too slippery, you can sprinkle them with a little bit of ground flax seed – it makes the food easier to grip and pick up. Everything should be cut into very small pieces so that it doesn’t become a choking hazard. Start with just a few pieces at a time so they don’t feel overwhelmed and add more to their plate as they continue to eat.

Baby led weaning is a little different from just beginning finger foods. Instead of using finger foods as a complement to pureed food, baby-led weaning is a process of introducing foods that are not pureed and instead starting them on solid food. Instead of giving your baby a puree of broccoli and pork chop you would give them a sufficiently cooked broccoli stem and a chunk of pork chop for them to hold and gnaw on. The larger pieces are easy to hold in their fists and it’s usually recommended to cut foods into baton shapes to help grip.

You can use the same foods to start with for either approach. The only difference will be how the foods are cut. Some great foods are:  soft fruits such as banana, avocado, pear, plum, peach, squashed blueberries, kiwi, cut-up grapes, seedless watermelon or roasted apples. Good protein choices include hard-boiled egg yolks, chicken, ground beef. Soft, cooked veggies such as carrots, zucchini, peas, sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, butternut or acorn squash are all easy to gnaw on.

Whichever method you choose, always exercise caution. Never leave a baby alone when they’re eating and always follow your baby’s hunger cues. Proponents of baby led weaning believe that this method helps them eat the proper amount of food without overfeeding, and that they will easily learn what their bodies need to nourish them.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.