Once your baby is six months old, you can have a sigh of relief for now that you no longer have to exclusively breastfeed. If you have been feeding formula milk to your baby, he will no longer be as dependent on it as he was during the first six months of his life.
The WHO recommends that after the first six months, the baby should be fed semi-solid or soft foods in combination with breast milk. There might be times when the baby will not want to eat and will be dependent on breast milk even after the six months; but these usually happen during the growth spurts.
After the baby is comfortable with soft and puree-like foods, you can introduce him to cooked and harder foods. Other than the meals that are served at the meal times, you can also offer finger foods to your baby.
Finger foods are foods that are good for your baby and are compatible to your baby's digestive system. They are served in a form that is easy for the baby to maneuver around and feed himself. Your baby might be a toddler of 1 year or above when you can offer it to him.
There are babies who can eat finger foods much earlier and it is up to you to determine if your child is ready for it or not.
Today, we shall read about the best finger foods that you can give to your toddler. We shall also look at their benefits and the best way to serve them.
How To Know If Your Baby Is Ready For Finger Foods?
• Your child can sit up and hold the position on his own.
• Your baby shows interest in your food and often tries to grab food from your plate.
• Your toddler has a well-developed pincer grasp.
• You may be more confident in feeding your baby finger food when he has teeth but it is not necessary to wait till then. The babies can use their gums to chew just as well.
How To Make Sure That The Finger Food Is Safe For Your Little One?
• Choose small pieces
When you prepare the food, make sure that they are small pieces that the baby can pick up on his own.
• Choose foods that are soft and easy to chew
Foods that are soft, melt into the baby's mouth when he chews with his gums. These food items do not pose much danger to the baby.
• Avoid sticky finger foods
Sticky foods like caramel, peanut butter and cream must be avoided. These do not melt in the baby's mouth. Instead, they stick to the roof and the other areas of the mouth. They can be a potential choking hazard.
• Choose food that is low in salt and sugar
Feeding your baby adult food can cause the baby to ingest more sugar and salt than required. Try not to add salt or sugar to your baby's food when cooking it.
How To Feed Your Baby Finger Food?
• Cut the food into small pieces and offer it to your child on an unbreakable plate.
• Cook the foods like vegetables till it is soft and well-cooked before serving it.
• Let your baby use utensils like spoon and a blunt fork whenever required.
• Accept that your baby will make a lot of mess. The baby will have fun with food before he starts to eat it properly.
• Never leave your baby unattended while he eats.
The Best Finger Foods For Your Toddler
• Dry soft cereals
Dry cereals that have an no shape are very popular as finger foods. This is because it lets the baby work on his pincer grasp. The cereal also dissolves into the mouth easily.
• Bread and biscuit
Breads and biscuit are delicious and nutritious at the same time, they help soothe the toddler's gums too during the teething. As the baby grows up, you can start serving him with avocados, nut butters or bananas.
While eggs are great finger foods, make sure to cook them thoroughly before serving. Hard boil them, cut them into pieces and serve, do not add salt into it.
Fruits are commonly soft, tasty and healthy. This is the reason fruits are considered to be the best first finger foods. Watermelons, berries and bananas make a good meal.
Its soft, non-greasy texture will make it your toddler's favorite finger food. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the development of the brain. It can be eaten when your baby does not even have teeth to chew.
Pasta, when cooked well, is great for toddlers. At first, you may offer it to your toddler plain; but as he grows, you can add some butter, tomato sauce or olive oil to it.
Tofu is a great source of protein. Choose some firm tofu as your baby's first finger food. You may serve it cooked or uncooked.
Vegetables that are cooked until soft are good for your toddler. You might have already been giving your baby vegetables in a pureed form. So, he will already be familiar with the taste. Choose to roast, bake or steam the vegetables instead of boiling them to make sure that all the nutrients are preserved. Sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and beet roots are all great options.
If your baby is not allergic to dairy, cheese will be a good thing to add to his diet. Choose soft and pasteurized cheese. Sticky and stinky varieties should not be given to the baby.