Every baby is unique when it comes to mannerisms , likes and dislikes. Their taste in food varies as well. Some of them may enjoy lumpy foods , some may not. So it is very necessary as a parent to watch their activities carefully. There activities will give clues as to whether their bodies are ready to accept finger foods. Only the watchful eye of a parent can make that distinction.
As a rule of thumb it is advised that children should be exposed to finger foods when they are seven months old or more. They tend to enjoy texture in their food between the ages seven to ten months.
Specification of finger foods:
Normally any bit sized portion of food which a child can eat on his own can be termed as a finger food.It is a fun filled journey of self discovery and self reliance which a child enjoys very much and it is a very essential part of their growing up process. It can be a messy affair. But parents are advised not to be in a hurry to clean them. Let them enjoy their fun filled frolic.
How to introduce finger foods:
The food should not be runny, it should be mashed finely. However, it is advised that some small lumps of food should also be there in the mash so that it gives a diverse texture. Parents can add some portions of the grated variety of the same food source as that of the mash. In an unbreakable plate, parents can put 4 to 5 varieties of finger food and place the plate in the child’s high chair. If this process appeals to the child, then the number of foods on the plate can be increased.
Points to remember:
- Though children may like this fun process, but parents should remember the fact that children don’t have many teeth, so the food needs to be mashed well so that it can melt easily in the mouth.
- Once a child is introduced to a mashed texture of the food and not the pureed one, it is absolutely necessary to check whether the food has been cooked thoroughly before it is mashed.
- The size of the food also depends on the type of food product. Chicken pieces need to be smaller than the mango pieces or watermelon pieces.
- Expert opinion is a must for parents who are confused about the type of food they want to give to their children.
- Parents should not give lumpy foods than can be a chocking hazard to their children.
- To avoid choking hazard the portions of food should be bite sized so that the children can easily eat them.
- Though finger foods are a perfect snack in between their meals, however, parents need to be careful about the quantity. It should not be huge enough so that it spoils their appetite for mealtime.
- Usually babies change their tastes frequently, so if they don’t like something today, it doesn’t mean they will not like it in the long term. Parents can rotate particular foods after a few days gap.
- For babies who are teething, parents can provide some cold finger foods (like frozen banana or melon etc.). It can soothe their gums.
Foods that can be tried out:
- Bread sticks (unsalted)
- Chess pieces
- Small portions of butternut squash or potato or broccoli or carrot, etc. (The should be cooked well before they are given to the baby.)
- Rice cake (plain)
- Butter toast (lightly toasted bagels also)
- Well-cooked pasta
- Small chunks of pear or apple or melon or peach or banana etc.
- Omelets (small strips)
- Tofu (small cubes)
- Small portions of cooked fish or egg or meat, it can be turkey meat as well as ground beef too.
- Sometimes shallow fried potato with cheese can also do wonders.
- Hard-boiled egg (chopped) has also been found to be very popular among babies.
- Tasty, but healthy biscuits as well as puffed rice are also a hit among babies who love to have them frequently.
- Fruit jam prepared at home spread on a lightly toasted bread
There is no need to get anxious if the child does not show any excitement towards these foods. It is just a matter of getting used to the food. They do normally take a little bit of time to get accustomed to the whole process.