Finger Foods For Babies

There’s nothing like baby finger foods to get your child interested in eating. Here are some amazing finger foods for toddlers and babies.

By Leena Ghosh

Finger Foods For Babies

Call them canapes, aperitifs, munchies or short eats, finger foods are a dish relished by adults and kids alike. And when those tiny fingers of the little one reach out for the food prepared with so much love and care, it is a moment worth treasuring for every parent. But, coming up with new ideas or recipes to serve children can be a challenge for most parents.

To help you out, we have come up with an age-wise exhaustive list of finger food ideas that’s bound to make your little one fall in love with food and even charm the fussiest of eaters. But, before we get into finger food ideas, here are some benefits of serving finger foods to your baby.

Benefits of finger food

  • Creates an interest in food (offers scope for creative presentation of food)
  • Aids in the transition from breastfeeding or semi-solid food to solid foods
  • Develops eating skills
  • Increases food intake
  • Improves the appetite

When to start giving finger foods

So, when should you begin giving your baby finger foods? By the time babies are 8 to 9 months old, they are able to sit straight and reach out to the food served to them. However, they still use their gums to mash food. So, you have to make sure that the food you serve to your baby can be easily eaten by her and does not prove to be a choking hazard.

How to introduce finger foods to your baby

When your baby is 8 to 9 months old, it is advisable to make him sit in a high chair where he can be safely strapped. However, if you don’t have a high chair, sit on the floor with your baby in the lap. Keep a small plate or bowl of food in front of him and make sure there are no other distractions like the television or toys. Encourage, but not force, him to pick the food from the bowl and eat by himself. With time, add different combinations of food items to help him get used to the different textures and tastes of food.

Questions you should ask yourself before giving finger food to your baby

  • Would the food melt in the mouth?
  • Is the food easy to swallow if not chewed properly?
  • Is the food well cooked, so it can be mashed easily inside the mouth?
  • Is the food portion small enough, so as to not be a choking hazard?
  • Can the food be easily chewed (for small children with no teeth)?

Now, that you know when and how to give your child finger foods, here's a list of baby finger food recipe ideas for your little one.

Finger food ideas for a 7 to 8-month-old

  • Thin slices of banana
  • Peeled grapes cut into half
  • Mango cubes
  • Papaya cubes
  • Peeled orange
  • Peeled boiled peas
  • Thin slices of boiled carrots
  • Small sweet potato mash balls
  • Boiled, cut pieces of pasta
  • Small cubes of cheese
  • Pieces of hard-boiled egg
  • Pieces of soft bread

Finger foods for a 9 to 11-month-old

  • Crushed pieces of soft idli
  • Well-cooked sticky rice (serve when cool)
  • Steamed, boneless fish cut into small pieces
  • Boiled carrot fingers
  • Boiled and salted potato sticks
  • Cut and peeled oranges
  • Mango cubes

Finger foods for a 1-year-old

By the time your child is a 1-year-old, his understanding of the world of food increases a great deal. This is the best time to explore various foods with him by encouraging him to taste different kinds of food. However, do remember that the food should be soft and served in small portions. Although 1-year-olds have a set of front teeth (lower central incisors or upper central incisors or both) which makes it easier for them to bite food, they continue to mash food with their gums as the molars erupt a little later.

The following are some finger food ideas for a 1-year-old:

  • Steamed apples
  • Banana chunks
  • Watermelon cubes
  • Sliced grapes
  • Cut strawberries
  • Thin slices of pear (peeled)
  • Cubes of cheese
  • Steamed small broccoli florets
  • Boiled peas
  • Boiled corn
  • Hard-boiled egg cut into quarters
  • Small pancake cut into pieces
  • Small idlis cut into pieces
  • Strings of salted noodles
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Paneer cubes

Finger food ideas for a 2-year-old

At this age, children can eat almost anything as their appetites increase and they are able to chew and digest food better. It is advisable to give smaller versions of different food items to help them eat by themselves. This is also the best time to begin instilling good food habits in your child and introduce her to a variety of foods, so that she enjoys the process of eating. The following are some finger food ideas that your toddler is bound to love:

  • Potato wedges
  • Small fruit-based muffins or cupcakes
  • Cottage cheese cubes
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Meat balls
  • Steamed spinach balls
  • Pasta pieces
  • Small yoghurt cups
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Small pancakes
  • Pieces of apple pie
  • Fish fingers
  • Small dosas in interesting shapes
  • Small veggie parathas cut into pieces
  • Soft bread with jam
  • Cheese sticks
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Paniyaram (steamed lentil and rice batter)
  • Ragi idlis
  • Chickpea patties
  • Cheesecake cut into small pieces
  • Carrot fingers
  • Assorted fruit salad
  • Fruit popsicles
  • Bread roll
  • Roti roll

Note of caution: Toddlers tend to stuff their mouths with as much food as they can. So, according to your child’s age and eating skills, fix the portion of food served to her.

Finger foods not to give your baby

  • Dried fruit
  • Peanuts, nuts and seeds
  • Cut raw vegetables or hard fruits
  • Popcorn
  • Chips
  • Whole grapes and berries
  • Hard candy

Eating habits instilled at a young age go a long way in deciding how your child eats and the preferences she develops. Introduce her to a variety of foods, keep a track of any food allergies she develops and make sure that she has a balanced diet. If you have a fussy eater at home, devise fun and interesting ways to develop her interest in food. Remember, never force your child to eat as mealtime should never become a struggle for her. Try these baby finger food ideas for your little one and come up with your own recipes to make food interesting for her. 

About the author:

Written by Leena Ghosh on 10 September 2019

The author is a journalist, writer, editor and the mother of a spirited young girl. In between juggling the roles of being a full-time cheerleader for her daughter, a thorough professional and a part time chef, she dreams of finishing the first page of her unwritten book.

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