So you started your baby on solids…but now what? After your baby has gotten the hang of eating purées you will probably notice that he/she is becoming more interested in foods and feeding themselves. This next step includes feeding themselves independently, developing their pincer grasp and also practicing their chewing skills. Here are Lauren’s 5 easy finger foods for beginners!
Ways to tell your baby is ready for finger foods:
- They have become comfortable with swallowing purées
- They show interest in learning how to feed themselves, such as reaching for the spoon while you are feeding them
- You notice them reaching for food or utensils from your plate while eating
- You notice them beginning to mimic chewing while watching you eat
Transitional finger foods:
The best foods for this next step in learning to eat are called “transitional finger foods.” The best transitional finger foods are ones that are naturally soft and mashable so your baby is easily able to practice chewing foods between their gums. These foods should also be geared toward having your baby practicing their pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) to allow for independent feeding.
My 5 favorite finger foods for beginners:
- Diced blueberries
- Steamed peas
- Diced avocados
- Scrambled eggs
- Shredded chicken (baked or made in the crockpot)
I love these foods because they are all naturally soft and easily mashable between your baby’s gums. They also help your baby practice their pincer grasp. When you first begin giving your baby finger foods you may notice that they are still using their palmar grasp to pick up their food. A palmar grasp is when your baby’s fingers are flexed with the thumb still within their hand. This is developmentally appropriate for babies who are learning to eat around 6 months of age. You will typically start to see your baby transition from using a palmar grasp to a radial-palmar grasp around 7-9 months.
A radial-palmar grasp is when your baby’s pinky finger is initiating the grasp, followed by their other fingers with their thumb pointed out in a “thumbs up” position. Around the age of 9-10 months you will most likely notice your baby starting to really practice and perfect their pincer grasp.
A pincer grasp is when your baby’s index finger touches the tip of their thumb to create a circle with their fingers. This movement takes a lot of fine motor skills and development so providing your baby with foods to help promote and encourage them to use their pincer grasp is very important. Continue to give your baby a wide variety of foods so they are able to practice picking up foods of different shapes and sizes. Please keep in mind that even once your baby has mastered their pincer grasp, they may still use a palmar or radial-palmar grasp along with their pincer grasp – this is OK!!!
There are some exceptions, which include but are not limited to apples, pears, and plantains. These fruits should be baked or sautéed until they are soft and mashable. Once you have prepared your vegetables and/or fruits to be easily mashed between your baby’s gums, be sure to dice or cut them into bite size pieces. The size of a pea is a great reference for babies who are just beginning finger foods!
What foods should I avoid?
In general, foods you should avoid when starting your baby on finger foods include:
- Coin shaped foods such as hot dogs
- Raw vegetables
- Whole grapes (diced is ok but be careful of skins)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Chunks of meat or cheese
- Nuts and seeds
- Hard, crunchy or sticky foods
Foods to be cautious of (but not necessarily limit for your baby include):
- Foods with skins or seeds such as blueberries, peas and diced grapes.
- Foods with seeds such as raspberries, strawberries and kiwi
- Undercooked meat, eggs or shellfish
- Be sure to only introduce 1 new food every 3-5 days to watch for allergic reactions.
- Make sure your foods are all fork tender, cuttable and mashable.
- Be vigilant about watching for choking and never leave your baby unattended while they are eating!
- Choking is a rare event but we want to be sure you are prepared in case of an emergency were to happen at home.
- We suggest that you should be up-to-date on your infant CPR and choking skills to ensure your baby’s safety. We highly recommend taking a course so you are comfortable responding in an emergency situation. This is essential for your baby’s safety!
- Kate has an online infant CPR and choking refresher course available here (use code BUMBLE15 for discount).
- Scroll down to book an in-home CPR class!
- Check out Kate’s post on, “why learn CPR.”
- Feed your baby the rainbow! Give them a wide variety of fruits and vegetables of all different colors and flavors. Babies don’t start to develop food preferences until around 9 months of age, so now is a great time to expose them to as many different textures and flavors as you can to help develop their taste palates.
REMEMBER: YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO PERFORM INFANT CPR AND CHOKING SKILLS BEFORE STARTING SOLIDS WITH YOUR BABY (and anyone who will be caring for your baby should know too!)
Book an in-home CPR session with Natalie, Lauren or Kate if you live in the Chicagoland area. If you’re looking for an online refresher, check out Kate’s online infant CPR refresher course (use code BUMBLE15 for discount).
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider. Bumblebaby makes a small commission on some of the items listed above