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20 Easy Finger Foods for Baby

If you feel like you're running out of baby mealtime ideas, check out our list of chunkier finger foods in soft, easy-to-gum textures.

20 Easy Finger Foods for Baby

Photo: Erik Putz

Parents often instinctively shred food into teeny-tiny pieces when their babies are first trying self-feeding at six months—probably because they’re afraid of choking. But when infants start solids, they typically only have a palmar grasp—the reflexive closing of their hand around an object—and haven’t developed their pincer grip yet. This means smaller pieces can be way too frustrating for them to pick up.

They actually need food prepared in larger chunks. When starting to prepare finger foods for baby, first serve things that are about the size and shape of an apple slice or potato wedge; try to make pieces about two fingers wide (about one inch wide and three inches long).

To start, the consistency should be soft and easily mashable between their tongue and the roof of their mouth. (Babies don’t need teeth for this!) By the time your infant develops their pincer grip—around eight to 10 months—more shredded pieces, smaller items and ground textures will work well. Here are 20 finger foods for baby in varying shapes and textures:

Steamed broccoli

Leave enough of a stem on your broccoli pieces to act as a handle.

Broccoli may cause gas, so monitor your baby's reaction to eating it. Also, if you're breastfeeding, cruciferous veggies are linked to colic, so be on the lookout for that. If your munchkin is coping fine, you've got the green light.

Steamed broccoli in a yellow flower-shaped cup Photo: Erik Putz

Roasted sweet potato

Root vegetables like sweet potatoes are suitable for six-month-olds to eat steamed. Sweet potatoes contain fat-soluble vitamin E, an antioxidant and micronutrient that assists with circulation. Roasting sweet potato is a tasty step up.

Don't overcrowd your sweet potato wedges on the pan or they'll end up soggy and too floppy to grasp. Love these little silicone cups? Grab some here for an exciting finger foods display.

strips of roasted sweet potato Photo: Erik Putz

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Baked salmon

Salmon is an easy fish to flake into pieces, perfect for little fingers.

This hero fish provides unsaturated fats, which are so important for brain, nerve, and eye development. Salmon also offers calcium, which is famously good for bone and tooth development; less well-known is its benefits for blood clotting. Wild Alaskan salmon is a safer option containing fewer contaminants.

Chunks of cooked salmon in a green cup Photo: Erik Putz

Banana

Bananas contain beta-carotene, vitamin A, and quercetin, in addition to other micronutrients that promote a healthy digestive system (bananas are a probiotic) and serve as an anti-inflammatory.

Try rolling slippery foods like bananas in chia seeds or baby cereal for added grip.

a piece of banana dipped in ground chia seeds in a teal cup Photo: Erik Putz

Omelette strips

Baby's first foods can include egg, but when you're starting, try soft-boiled egg yolk rather than egg white, which contains more challenging proteins to digest and can cause an allergic reaction.

After omelette strips, you can try serving chunks of scrambled or hard-boiled eggs. 

Strips of omelette in an orange cup Photo: Erik Putz

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Mango

Orange tropical fruits like mangoes are delicious and nutritious in moderate amounts. They contain potassium, carotenoids, flavonoids, limonoids, terpenes, and vitamin C, which support the eyes, heart, and immune system.

Mangoes are suitable from the age of seven months. Make sure the slices are ripe enough for gumming, but not so ripe that they're hard to hold.

Strips of mango in a green cup Photo: Erik Putz

Roasted red peppers

Roasted peppers are sweet and loaded with Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps fight infections, among other functions. This is especially important if your child attends daycare while you work—a group of kids amplifies the risk of sniffly noses and similar symptoms. Your baby can eat bell peppers from seven months onward.

Strips of roasted red pepper in a lime-green cup Photo: Erik Putz

Steamed peas

It may take a few months before baby's pincer grip kicks in and they're able to pick up single peas.

Green peas are a source of protein and carbohydrates. The latter is your baby's leading source of fuel. Complex carbs stabilize mood and prevent over-tiredness. Without carbs and protein, baby's growth may be stunted. Infancy is a crucial period where children grow faster than at any other phase of life, so foods like peas have a big part to play.

green peas in a blue cup Photo: Erik Putz

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Toast strips

Bread may contain GMOs or gluten can be difficult for little ones to digest, so it's a good idea to go gluten-free until your munchkin is past infancy. Then, let your baby try peanut butter spread thinly on easy-to-pick-up toast soldiers.

Toast strips with nut butter in a teal cup Photo: Erik Putz

Cucumber spears

Cucumbers are 96% water, an essential nutrient involved in everything your system does. It transports other nutrients into cells and moves waste products out of them, and it aids digestion and helps regulate your baby's body temperature.

Your little one can eat cucumbers from seven months upward. Aim for chunks similar in size to a potato wedge.

cucumber sticks in a flower-shaped pink cup Photo: Erik Putz

Tofu cubes

Balance out a flavourful fruit or veggie with protein-packed tofu cubes. You can puree tofu with a third of a banana and two dried apricots soaked in a tablespoon of boiling water, and you'll get one to two servings of infant food.

Cubes of tofu in a teal cup Photo: Erik Putz

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Pancake strips

There are plenty of healthy pancake recipes to try; you can even use baby cereal. (Try making a batch and freezing the leftovers.) Make a vegetable puree as a dip, or fill a crepe with steamed cinnamon apples and a dash of maple syrup for a healthy dessert.

Strips of pancake in a pink cup Photo: Erik Putz

Shredded cheese

Cheese is a good source of calcium, but serve it in moderation. Processed cheeses (like cheese strings or cheese singles) contain a lot of sodium and additives. Moldy soft cheeses like Camembert, Brie, and Stilton should be avoided in year one—babies' digestive systems are too immature to handle them.

Fun fact: goat's cheese is easier to digest than cheese from cow's milk.

Shredded cheddar cheese in a pink cup Photo: Erik Putz

Pasta

Babies can eat pasta from the age of about five or six months. The ridges on fusilli-shaped pasta are easier to grasp, making this the perfect finger food for baby. Homemade sauces also cling to fusilli's grooves better.

Cooked fusilli pasta in a lime-green flower-shaped cup Photo: Erik Putz

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Sliced strawberries

Strawberries are notorious and the first fruits people think of when they hear the term "dirty dozen," which refers to the 12 types of fresh produce with the most significant pesticide exposure.

This doesn't mean you must exclude these delicious and antioxidant-rich red berries from your baby's diet; just be sure to wash them well. Whole strawberries or large chunks are a choking hazard, so slice them into small pieces.

sliced strawberries in a blue cup Photo: Erik Putz

Avocado

Remember how salmon is an excellent source of unsaturated fats? Well, avocado is the plant-based mom's alternative. Healthy fats offer omega-3 fatty acids, and deficiency has some links to conditions such as ADHD and dyslexia. So, go ahead and feed baba that expensive avo. Soft avocado can also benefit from added grip in the form of baby cereal or chia seeds.

avocado spears in a pink cup Photo: Erik Putz

Shredded chicken

Chicken contains protein and vitamins like B2, B3, and B6. These B vitamins promote iron absorption, help babies absorb the food they're eating, and assist with detoxification. When it comes to feeding, you can switch it up by making easy-to-pick-up ground-chicken meatballs.

Shredded chicken in a blue heart-shaped cup Photo: Erik Putz

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Chickpeas

Once your baby is closer to a year old, pop open a can of chickpeas and rinse them, then serve raw or roasted. (If you're concerned about choking, smush each pea a bit.) Chickpeas can cause gas, so introduce them slowly.

chickpeas in a star-shaped blue cup Photo: Erik Putz

Rice balls

Brown rice is an important source of unrefined complex carbs. It also contains selenium, which is an impressive disease fighter and can help prevent cancer. Try forming steamed rice into little balls to make it a slightly less messy finger food. (Serve white rice in moderation; brown rice is better.)

three rice balls in a red silicone cup Photo: Erik Putz

Puff snacks

Packaged supermarket puffs are great for on-the-go snacking. (Check the label for the age recommendations.) Puff snacks dissolve quickly in the mouth, so they're a safe snack for new eaters. It's always a good idea to keep a drink on hand for sipping if necessary.

a pink bowl of baby puff snacks Photo: Erik Putz

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This article was originally published on Sep 12, 2019

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