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Introducing Finger Foods

Introducing Finger Foods

Eating finger foods is another milestone in your toddler’s diet. First, you learned to nurse your baby or how to feed the best formula, then you introduced baby food, and now the time has come for finger foods.

Your baby may be around 9 months or so and begin looking at your plate like they’re waiting for you to share some food. This is normal as your toddler’s growing body requires more calories and in turn, they will demand more options to eat.

Beginning Finger Foods

Does baby need teeth to begin with finger foods? Not necessarily. Teeth help break down food to make swallowing safer and easier. Start with soft finger foods. Your toddler will point at and grab food with two fingers or their whole hand. This is one of the signs that it’s time to introduce finger foods. Introduce these foods in small portions and let your toddler decide on the amount based on their hunger.

Pleasing a Picky Eater

Will your toddler be picky during this stage? More than likely yes! The good news is that there are many options to choose from.

Stay open to foods that you may have never tried but that will add nutrition to your child’s diet. As toddlers feed themselves finger foods, they’re introduced to new foods and start to get a sense of independence. This is an opportunity for creativity while making fun foods for your toddler.

Creativity is the key to making introducing finger foods to your toddler a joy you’ll treasure!    

Best First Finger Foods for Baby

What foods could you start with? Steamed sweet potatoes are soft, easy to chew and digest, and easily picked up by small fingers and hands. This potato can also be baked, sliced, and served directly on a plate. Sweet potatoes contain both complex carbohydrates and fiber. Other good ones include roasted zucchini, squash, avocado, watermelon, scrambled eggs, and rice.

When introducing finger foods that are fruits and vegetables, cut them into small uneven chunks for increased safety while eating—avoid round or smooth shapes that can increase choking risks. Pay attention to whether your toddler likes or dislikes certain foods, and how much they typically want to eat. For example, start with a banana and smash it on the plate to create small bites, then progress to cutting it into chunks and larger pieces as your child’s ability to feed themself grows.

Your toddler is growing fast and so is their appetite. This road to independence will be a trial of foods that your child does or doesn’t like. The encouraging news is your toddler will find foods that they prefer during this stage as you provide a variety of choices. Happy eating!

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