Feeding your child finger food can soon become a messy affair, but don’t worry; they’ll learn it with time and begin to comprehend food time as a fun time.
One of the biggest challenges that new parents have to face is to establish their child’s eating habits and the food they should be fed. What is the right time to feed? What can she/he eat? Is it okay to give her/him this or that? Would it be safe to feed her/him fruits? These are just some of the questions that perplex them.
The health of your child is an important matter and that means it is necessary to know all about their meals. Among the many phases that your baby goes through, one of them involves the time for their first finger food. Any small piece of food that is only the size of a bite and can easily be picked by a baby is called finger food. This food is not only a solid source of good nutrients for your baby, but also helps them develop their motor skills and have better coordination.
When is the right time for your baby’s first finger food?
All babies are different with their own interests, disinterests, and habits. Some babies try to grab food out of their parents’ plate early on while some show little interest. Most commonly, children begin to take an interest in solid food anywhere between 4 to 6 months. Parents can determine the right time for their baby’s first finger food through observation and instinct. If they notice their child is being drawn to solid food and grabbing things through their pincer-grip, they should know its time.
Some of the signs to watch out for are when babies begin using their thumb and forefinger to hold or pick things, when babies begin to develop the ability to chew, and most importantly, when babies can sit properly on their own–so that the risk of choking is minimal.
Some quick tips for parents
Letting your baby eat their first finger food could be a little tricky. It is as new to the parents as it is to the babies. Here are few quick tips to make it a fun and safe experience:
- Let your babies eat on their own and encourage them for it.
- Babies might not be so accurate with their hand-to-mouth coordination and things may get a little messier, but have patience and in time they’ll be able to learn.
- Add fun factors into this feeding session. Clap loudly when your child has made it to their mouth for the first time; use attractive and bright coloured plates and spoons to keep them interested.
- Keep things versatile by offering your child a different finger food each time; it will also develop their taste.
- Always stay with your child when they are eating their finger food and remove the food once done.
- The finger food must be soft enough to be chewable for the gums; avoid raw and hard food that may result in choking, such as apples, sausages, carrots, cucumbers, etc.
- Avoid over feeding and only provide little at a time.
- It is best to use a high chair at the time of feeding. Also, the baby should be able to sit and move their head around unassisted.
- Since your child will be eating all these foods for the first time, keep a close eye for any kind of allergy. Make sure you get your child checked by a doctor immediately in case you suspect something.
Best Finger Foods–what should they be like?
While your child may be able to sit, chew, and grasp, there still are some restrictions to the kind of food they should be offered. Some food items pose a risk of choking while others make the best finger foods. Finger food must be appropriate considering the age of the baby; soft and mash-able food items are the best choice for it.
Make sure that the size of all finger food is very small. Parents must make it a point to cut all foods into pieces. Even food items that are already small in size, like grapes or pasta, must be sliced further.
Remember that this is the age when your baby will be developing their taste buds, so offer as much versatile food as you can with different textures and tastes. Make sure that the food is soft or at least chewable. Avoid offering snacks and high-fat food to your baby. The finger food for your baby must either be naturally soft or must be softened through cooking. Stay away from dry and hard stuff that may be impossible for the baby to chew.
Food items that make the best finger food for your child
Parents should introduce their baby to solid diet not only with the easily chewable finger food but also ones that are high in nutrients and contain low-fat and low-sugar. Following is the list of some of the safest and nutritious food items for babies:
- Banana slices, ripe pear
- Multi-grained cereals
- Small cubes of tofu
- Boiled peas and carrots bits
- Soft and child-friendly cheese bits
- Soft tortilla shredded into small pieces
- Soft and cooked chicken shredded into very small bits
- Rice Cakes
- Cooked whole grain pasta with cheese
- Avocado slices
- Egg yolks of boiled or scrambled eggs
- Protein laden baked or broiled fish like cod, flounder, or sole, but only their soft and white parts
- Soft meatballs from ground turkey cut into small quarter pieces
Your baby’s health is a priority; the things you feed them now will develop their taste buds and their eating habits so make sure that you feed them healthy, nutritious food only. Also, food choking and food allergies are highly dangerous for your child, make sure you are careful with what you feed them and take all the cautions of feeding your child with their first finger food.