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:
Leave enough stem on your broccoli pieces to act as a handle.
Don't overcrowd your sweet potato wedges on the pan or they'll end up soggy and too floppy to grasp.
Salmon is an easy fish to flake into pieces perfect for little fingers.
Try rolling slippery foods in chia seeds or baby cereal for added grip.
After omelette strips, you can try serving chunks of scrambled or hard-boiled eggs.
Make sure your mango is ripe enough for gumming, but not so ripe it's hard to hold.
Roasted peppers are sweet and loaded with Vitamin C.
It may take a few months before baby's pincer grip kicks in and they're able to pick up single peas.
Let your baby try peanut butter spread thinly on easy-to-pick-up toast soldiers.
Aim for chunks similar in size to a potato wedge.
Balance out a flavourful fruit or veggie with protein-packed tofu cubes.
There are plenty of healthy pancake recipes to try; you can even use baby cereal. (Try making a batch and freezing the leftovers.)
Serve cheese in moderation. Processed cheeses (like cheese strings or cheese singles) contain a lot of sodium and additives.
The ridges on fusilli-shaped pasta are easier to grasp making the perfect finger food for baby.
You don’t have to wait to introduce strawberries.
Soft avocado can also benefit from added grip in the form of baby cereal or chia seeds.
You can also switch it up by making easy-to-pick-up ground-chicken meatballs.
Once your baby is closer to a year old, pop open a can of chickpeas and rinse. You can serve them raw or roasted. (If you're concerned about choking, smush each pea a bit.)
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.)
These packaged supermarket puffs are great for on-the-go snacking. (Check the label for the age recommendations.)