I love watching my kids eat! I love watching their chubby hands stuffing food into their mouth. I love their full cheeks. I love watching them try new tastes. I love it all!
One thing I hate though is spoon feeding my kids. Like any parent, we started out spoon feeding oatmeal or pureed foods, and that got old real fast for me. Between 6-8 months, my babies started mastering pinching and we began introducing finger foods. Starting slow so they could adjust to chewing, they figured it out quickly, and I was so grateful to put the spoon away.
Why Finger Foods
More than nutritionally, finger foods will help your baby developmentally in so many ways. It promotes fine motor skills, such as using their pincer fingers. Biting and chewing builds muscles in your baby’s mouth and tongue that are vital for speech and language. Making sure to include lots of textures to promote use of different muscles in their mouths.
It also improves hand eye coordination, and is so good for sensory purposes. It also has shown to decrease food pickiness in the future, and increase independence in eating! So many benefits!
Variety of Foods
So what do you feed them? You might totally be on board with allowing your kids to feed themselves, but also totally out of ideas on what to give them. Well I’m here to help! These are things my babies loved and were also simple and easy to prepare!
**Make sure all food given to your child is in bite-size pieces appropriate to your child’s age.
Fruits and Veggies
We love using canned fruits and veggies. They work perfect because they are ready to go, and already soft enough for your baby to gum. But, if you prefer fresh, make sure they are soft enough to eat on their own, or cooked until they are.
Fruits are the easiest in my opinion, naturally sweet, and full of tons of different textures, and they are so much fun for your littles. Berries, bananas, mandarin oranges, avocados, mangoes, peaches, cooked apples, and tomatoes were some of my favorite fruits to feed them.
For veggies, we loved the following cooked foods: green beans, peas, carrots, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash.
Starchy foods are a great place to start with your little. They are easily grasped, even if they haven’t mastered pinching yet. They are also pretty bland, so it can be a good transition from jarred food.
Pasta, bread or bagel pieces, o-shaped grain cereal, french toast pieces, and pancake pieces were a few of our favorites.
Dairy and Protein
It’s important to remember babies can eat dairy products, including eggs after six months. But because they are a common allergen, make sure to watch them close, especially when you first introduce them.
Eggs (hardboiled or scrambled), shredded cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt are some of our favorite dairy foods. Make sure to watch the. sugar content of yogurt!
Meatballs, fish, tofu, black beans, pinto beans, white beans--really any kind of bean! We loved using canned beans as well because they are already soft and ready to go!
As mentioned before, it is always important to cut food up in bite size pieces, appropriate to your child’s age, and avoid foods that can get stuck in your baby's windpipe such as nuts, popcorn, raisins, grapes, and hard fruits. Also, watch closely when serving new foods. Most pediatricians suggest only introducing one new food every few days. It can seem like a slow process, but it’s very important in ruling out any allergies should your child get sick.
Probably my best advice is to invest in good bibs, like Mushie's silicone bib or BapronBaby's Toddler Bapron. You’ll be thanking yourself on laundry day.