In one way all foods to babies are finger foods – at least when they are allowed to feed themselves. :-) My youngest baby really loved eating with his hands – and he was good at it too! My daughter, on the other hand, preferred a spoon.
In this post, you’ll find a nice list of “real” finger foods for babies and toddlers – the ones that even adults would probably eat with their fingers.
Finger foods – if healthy – are great for nutrition, of course, as well as for training the pincer grasp, enjoying the freedom of feeding themselves, and even to get an active 1-year-old or toddler on the go to eat anything at all!
So print or bookmark this list, and you’ll never run out of ideas on finger foods for your child.
Healthy, Yummy Finger Foods For Babies and Toddlers
- When to Start & Safety
- Bread and cereal
- Rice, pasta, etc
- Meat and fish
- Dairy products
- Don’t give your baby…
When to Start & Safety
If you are wondering when to start giving finger foods to babies, the best tip is simply to let your baby decide when he or she is ready for it!
If your baby is trying to grab the spoon during feeding or is reaching for your food or plate he or she might become very happy to be allowed to feed him or herself.
Other clues are that he or she is older than 6 months; sits steadily in a high chair; and has developed some control over the grabbing ability.
Letting your baby start practicing to feed him or herself has many advantages:
1. More content – He or she might be much more content at the dinner table, meaning that you have a chance to feed yourself.
2. Pincer grasp – Your baby gets to practice the pincer grasp
3. Practice feeding themselves – In the longer term, your child will be able to really feed him or herself earlier by being allowed to practice.
4. Help for picky eaters – Even really picky eaters may become enthusiastic over the possibility to stuff their own mouths with foods.
1. Messy – Your baby may become less interested in you feeding him or her, always trying to chase the spoon for example. This makes the feeding of purees very greasy.
2. Choking risk – You really need to keep an eye on your baby all the time, so that he or she doesn’t choke on something that you didn’t expect.
There are a lot of different foods that work perfectly as finger foods for a young baby. What you don’t want to give your little one are hard things that can cause choking. Slippery round foods, such as grapes are also dangerous. And, of course, you need to know what foods to avoid in general for babies younger than 1-year old.
Don’t worry, though, there are a lot of great, healthy finger foods to give your baby! :-)
Vegetables (always in small pieces)
Vegetables are very healthy finger foods since they often contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and not so much sugar. Veggies are an excellent first choice for finger foods!
- Boiled peas
- Well cooked carrots, soft enough to be gummed
Fruits (always in small pieces)
Fruits are great finger foods too, even if they contain much more sugar than vegetables. But they have lots of vitamins and are generally better than bread and cereal.
- Grapes (always peeled and cut in small pieces, never whole grapes)
Bread and cereal
When you offer bread or cereal to your baby or toddler, try to go for some without added sugar.
- Soft cereal that is low in salt and sugar and that melt easily
- Baby crackers
- Toast that melts easily in the mouth
Rice, pasta, etc (always in small pieces)
- Cooked rice (Asian rice is great because it sticks together) Basmati is the lowest in arsenic. (Link to Consumer reports)
- Well cooked pasta
- Pancakes (if you make them without salt and sugar)
Meat and fish
- Well cooked minced meat
- White fish
- Soft chicken breast
- Grated cheese
- Cottage cheese
Don’t give you baby these foods…
- Whole grapes
- Whole nuts
- Raw hard vegetables, such as carrots
- Large pieces of anything that can’t be gummed
- Heavy white bread, such as bagels – tends to clog together in hard balls that can be a choking hazard
- Strawberries to babies younger than 12 months, any dairy products, fruits, or fish that may cause allergies (if you have such allergies in your family) without consulting your baby’s doctor.
- Anything with added sugar
Make sure you take a look at this list of foods to avoid giving babies younger than 1-year-old.
And here are a post about my favorite baby food cookbooks.
If you have ideas on finger foods for babies and toddlers, please share by leaving a comment below!
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing are based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians who assist in reviewing and writing articles.