8 months old
After a couple months of spoon-feeding your little one (and coming up with all sorts of creative tactics to get your baby to open up), understand that it won’t always be this way. Before you know it, you’ll be overseeing a completely independent child, fully capable of using utensils. The first step to autonomy (and better coordination) is introducing finger foods.
Finger foods are bite-size pieces of food that babies are able to eat completely on their own – without the accompaniment of airplane noises. Some things to keep in mind:
- Most babies have the fine motor skills for self-feeding somewhere between 7 and 9 months.
- Wondering if your baby is ready? You might notice that your baby grabs the spoon from your hands or attempts to grab food from your plate.
- Even so, your baby probably won’t have the ability to pick up food in between his or her thumb and forefinger (known as the pincer grasp) for another month or two.
- Until your baby discovers the helpfulness of fingers, you might notice your little one raking food with his or her hands and grasping with a full fist.
- There are plenty of finger food options to start with, the best of which dissolve without chewing or are soft enough to be gummed, and have been previously introduced in a pureed form. For instance:
- Chunks of ripe banana, peach, plum, melon or mango
- Steamed (and cooled) chunks of pear or extra soft apple
- Steamed and very tender carrots, sweet potato or peas
- Small chunks of cheese
- Small pieces of whole-grain crackers, bread or bagels
- Rice cakes
- O-Shaped cereal, rice puffs or anything else that dissolves in your baby’s mouth
- Overcooked pasta like rotini, gernelli, rigatoni and penne – cut up if necessary
- Hard-boiled egg yolks (and then full hard-boiled eggs when the whites are introduced)
- Pea-sized pieces of soft meat, like chicken
- Avoid anything that can easily get stuck in your baby’s throat, like:
- Nuts (which shouldn’t be introduced yet anyway)
- Raw vegetables and fruit that can’t easily be dissolved or chewed
- Chunks of meat like hot dogs (Actually – avoid the additive-filled hot dogs regardless)
- Also avoid junk food filled with sugar, salt and preservatives. Especially at this early age, try and serve food that’s as wholesome as possible. Let’s face it: your baby will have French fries and cookies one day – there’s no reason to rush.
- Start off with a small amount of finger food (four or five pieces) on your baby’s highchair tray.
- You don’t want to overwhelm him or her with too much food at once, so just add more as you go.
- If you dump a handful of food onto your baby’s tray, you’re asking for one of two things: A floor filled with food or a stuffed baby’s mouth.
- Especially as your baby is starting finger food, feed him or her in a high chair rather than a car seat, stroller or while walking around, which can cause choking.
- And just as you did when starting solids, let your baby explore the texture, shapes and flavors – even if that means getting a little messy.
- Also make sure that your baby has already been introduced to the ingredients in the finger food.