What are finger foods?
The answer to this question is easy. You may call any bite size, easy to eat pieces that your baby can pick up with his hands and eat by himself finger food. Finger foods are significant in many ways. They are an important step helping your baby learn to eat by himself. This builds up confidence and on top develops your baby’s fine motor skills and coordination.
Getting used to eating finger food can be difficult and messy at first. Stay calm and patiently give your baby some time while he is trying to adapt to this fun way of eating. Let him mess up his clothes and the surroundings. He will learn and benefit from it a lot, so you may try to tolerate some mess in exchange for great fun and learning!
When should I introduce finger foods to my baby?
When your baby is 8-9 months old, he will start giving you signals to let you know that he is ready to start eating by himself. Just follow the signs…. Grabbing the spoon is a good sign that shows your little gourmet is ready for the adventure. And all new adventures are exciting. The start could be a bit challenging but you get used to the new world you get in and you go on walking the path with curiosity. Same for your little curious wanderer! At first your baby may not be able to hold the foods properly. Bu in time he will figure out how to use his fingers to pick up the food and bring it to his mouth and start feeding himself as he gets used to doing it This time when he learns to feed himself independently is a very important period when he will discover his skills and gain self-confidence. Sit back and watch how he is enjoying himself... Watch your little baby turn into a triumphant explorer, discovering a whole new world of wanders.
How should I introduce finger foods to my baby?
We advise you to start slowly… Place 4-5 pieces of finger food on an unbreakable plate. If your baby has already started to hold small items with his thumb and forefinger, you can also place foods before him in bite forms. If he’s not able to grab small items yet, place the foods both in long slim cuts and in bites. This will help him develop his motor skills. You can add more pieces as your baby manages to eat them. Try to sit him in a highchair. This way your baby will learn the place to eat. Also you will be able to watch him while he sits on a highchair and this will reduce the risk of choking.
What is the benefit of finger foods for my baby’s development?
Children don't eat just to get full. Note this and keep that in mind because this is the very core of the mom-child fights. This where the flame is ignited. It’s the very spot where the difference in mother and child’s opinions lies.
Finger foods are an opportunity for children to discover. They will allow your child to experience the world through their senses. They are an opportunity to touch, smell and observe the food they eat. As the child uses many senses, he learns a lot during this period. There is a lot to discover: Hard/soft, bright/pale, sweet/sour, and strong/light odors.. While your child is trying to discover the world, do not expect him to swallow the food and finish his meal. Give him some time, let him play and explore.
Accomplishing even the tiniest job by themselves definitely builds their confidence. It could be anything… Passing a ball through a hole, taking a bite to his mouth... Independently eating by himself will make your kid extremely joyful and happy. And this will build his confidence and support his growth in other areas.
Since we’ve dived into the colorful world of children, let’s get deeper with insights. Children do not like being forced to anything. The main reason of conflict between mother and child is the power struggle. By letting your child eat, you will make him feel that “he” has the power and this way you will be able to prevent or at least minimize future conflicts. You will support him to build his confidence.
Finger foods also support motor development of children. Eye-hand coordination is an important skill and children who eat finger foods find the chance to practice this skill in every meal. In time you will see how your baby becomes an expert, although he once couldn't even manage to take a food to his mouth. And this would be exciting for both of you.
Grabbing and lifting small items with his thumb and forefinger is also an important motor development. Finger foods encourage this as well.
Think it through… Even if self-feeding means longer, messier meals with less food consumption, it is definitely worth it.
Which foods make the best finger foods?
When introducing finger foods, it is important that you give your baby soft foods that he can easily swallow. Since your baby does not have many teeth yet at that period, giving him bites that do not dissolve easily will be both difficult and dangerous. As he grows teeth, you may start giving him some of your own meals in small bites.
Feeding behavior of your little gourmet takes a whole new dimension in this period. It will be better for you to offer your baby a wide variety. Because he is trying to understand and get used to the taste, texture, color, odor of the foods all around him. However you should stay away from any foods without nutritional value; like snacks. Do not forget that in this period your child also needs healthy foods with vitamins and minerals, which he needs to grow.
Always make sure that the finger foods you give your child are made with fresh ingredients and are prepared in a size that is easy for the baby to grasp. The vegetables should be cooked well so that they dissolve easily in their mouth. You may prefer foods like well-cooked and shredded meat, chicken, soft cheese, steamed carrot, and broccoli. Also it is better to put the bread into pieces for your baby. Meatball made from vegetables or fish, hash browns, fish fillets and pasta are nutritious finger foods that babies love.
Which foods should not be given as finger foods?