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The Importance of Finger Foods for Baby

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You are a month or two into the thrilling days of introducing solids to your baby and you’re wondering “When can I add finger foods to the menu? Are finger foods necessary or important?”

The answer to both is: YES!

Offering your little one foods he can pick up with his fingers is beneficial on many levels. Finger foods for Baby as early as possible is important for a multitude of reasons, but you may want to consult your baby’s pediatrician first as all babies are different.

The typical age to introduce solids in the form of finger foods is around seven to eight months. Some parents begin with small amounts of pureed solids while others skip the puree and head straight for the finger foods. This is known as “baby-led weaning” and greatly encourages hand-eye coordination.

It is advantageous for your baby to have a well-developed pincer grasp (between thumb and forefinger) as well as the ability to sit unassisted in a highchair with a tray.

It takes at least two to three years for the average human to learn how to eat – exploring foods at a young age promotes this remarkably. While your baby’s main consumption is breastmilk or formula, adding in small bits of finger foods is less about nutrition and more about food exploration.

Set out finger foods for baby and eventually the food will end up in his mouth! Allowing him to push, poke, squish, smash, feel, and play with various foods supports the development of different skills. Your baby will experience not only new tastes but new looks, smells, and textures as well.

source: www.smallstepsonline.co.uk

source: www.smallstepsonline.co.uk

Introducing finger food is important to aid in these developmental skills:

FINE MOTOR
Self feeding and fine motor skills are developed.

ORAL MOTOR
Jaw strength is greatly promoted when finger foods are added in. The development of the tongue movement is also greatly affected; it will learn to move side-to-side in addition to forward and backwards.

SENSORY PROCESSING
Your baby is going to experience all of his senses during this time: sight, touch, movement, sound, smell, balance. Your baby’s brain is processing all of the sensory signals involved with eating.

GAG REFLUX IMPROVEMENT
Most infants [if not all] are born with a very sensitive gag reflux. As you add finger food to his menu, you will notice an improvement in his reflux.

Note: the current Infant Feeding Guidelines recommend foods with a high risk of choking such as whole nuts, seeds, raw carrot, celery sticks and chunks of apple should be avoided for the first 3 years as their size and/or consistency increases the risk of choking.  It is also advisable to always supervise your children while they are eating to prevent choking.” // One Handed Cooks

Need some ideas for simple finger foods for baby? We’ve got it covered:

  1. Sweet potato and apple
  2. Banana and avocado
  3. Roast chicken and apple
  4. Cheese omelet and turkey-apple sausage
  5. Elbow pasta with marinara sauce and focaccia
  6. Cheese toast and sweet potato fries
  7. Swiss cheese and apricots
  8. Mac ‘n’ cheese and beets
  9. Green beans and pears
  10. Butternut squash and peaches
  11. Peas and plums
  12. Carrots and apple
  13. Banana and cherries
  14. Fresh mozzarella and tomato
  15. Cheddar cheese and figs

I soften them on the stove or in the oven, then dice them into bite-sized pieces to make it very easy for our gummy babies to consume. You do not need to wait for your little one to have a full mouth of teeth, or even any teeth at all.

As a reminder, all babies are different and fluctuate in developmental aspects from one baby to another. Consult with your pediatrician about the best time to add finger food.

What are you favorite finger foods to give your baby?

 

If you enjoyed this article read our other articles:

 

SOURCES
Wholesome BabyFood
List of paired finger food found at Parents.Com
One Handed Cooks

Featured image source: www.thedecoratedcookie.com

Natalie

Writer and Photographer at Natalie Brenner Writes
Natalie is a freelance writer and professional photographer who is up for just about any crazy adventure. She guzzles iced coffee while changing diapers and singing songs in silly voices to her two sweet boys who are almost 5 months apart and both under 1. When not bouncing babies or reading books in the rocking chair, her husband works with at-risk children. Their boys joined their family via birth and adoption and they hope to continue expanding their family via adoption and possibly foster care. Connect further with her through her blog, Natalie Brenner Writes, Instagram, or her community Facebook Page.
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