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Finger Food Recipes for your Baby
Once your baby reaches 7 -10 months, and is accustomed to a range of puree textures and tastes, you will notice a new developmental stage. It’s a coming together of curiosity, a broadening palate, and physical dexterity, but you’ll remember the first time your little one makes a grab for some finger food. Of course at this point, it’s probably something highly unsuitable found on your own plate – stone cold no doubt, as you fed them first, then took them on to your lap because they still wouldn’t settle. To have your toast snatched adds insult to injury, so what about offering your baby some proper finger food of their own? They might even consent to stay in the highchair and eat them, whilst you manage the occasional mouthful of your own… Here are some ideas, for simple first finger foods.
Remember, it’s important that your baby’s tastes don’t become overly dependent on sweet flavoured things like fruit, so try some vegetables as finger foods… remember cooked foods should be offered either cooled or lightly re-heated only.
- Cooked green beans (un-stringy)
- Slices/fingers of avocado
- Cooked cauliflower
- Steamed asparagus spears, well trimmed
- Carrot, cooked – can also try raw and chilled, nice for teethy gums to gnaw on for comfort rather than eat, and be aware that broken off hard bits are a potential choking hazard
Opinions vary as to the best age to introduce potential allergens to your baby’s diet, such as dairy produce, soya or wheat. However provided you take it slowly, as with any new food – one at a time, combined with familiar favorites, and many paediatricians advise a 4 day wait between the introduction of new foods, to accurately identify any reactions – the following all make good finger foods for a baby 12 months old and above
- Small toast triangles – can try with a low-salt cream cheese spread
- Cooked and cooled penne pasta, or other easily gripped shape
- Small cubes of tofu
- Small shreds of cooked chicken or turkey
- Little sticks of mild cheese
- Strips of omelette
- Slices of hard boiled egg (some babies have difficulties with the mouth-feel of egg yolk, but the white alone is a good source of protein)
- Unsalted bread sticks
- Cooked white beans (better in the highchair than the car, you’ll be finding them everywhere)
- Unsalted rice crackers (you don’t have to buy tiny baby sized ones, just break them up!)
- Cubes of instant polenta, made up without salt, cooled and diced.
Once your baby is a happy finger food muncher, snacking on the go becomes so much easier, and you can design meals to be enjoyed solely by hand without any of that messy spoon-feeding. Don’t think you’ll escape the mess by any means, but they will enjoy making it, and it will occupy their attention in the buggy or car seat, whilst also developing manual dexterity and control, as well as hand-eye co-ordination. You can buy lots of ready-made finger foods for kids, but it’s not difficult to make some simple finger food recipes so you know exactly what’s gone into them, can choose wholesome organic ingredients, and save money too!
Sweet potato fries
Scrub two large sweet potatoes. Cut into wedges or thick slices, brush with a little olive oil, and bake at 400F for 30 minutes until soft. The peel will stay thick and chewy, but that will add stability to the wedge whilst your baby sucks and eats the soft potato flesh off it.
Thinly slice baguette bread, brush with unsweetened tomato puree, and sprinkle with grated mozzarella or other hard cheese. A pinch of oregano or majoram introduces subtle Mediterranean flavors, but hold the black pepper! Grill lightly till cheese bubbles, and cool before serving. You can also make these using baby rice cakes, and they keep a few days in a sealed container if completely cooled first.
Drain a small tin of sweetcorn, and add to the blender with a whole egg and a dash of milk. Don’t add salt, but a tiny pinch of mild curry powder keeps things interesting. How thoroughly you blend depends on the age of your child, corn is high in fiber and can be a challenge to digest, so puree finely to start with. Then shallow-fry small dollops in vegetable oil, a few minutes on each side. Once lightly browned, dry and cool on kitchen paper before offering to your baby. The pancake mix will keep in the fridge for a few days well covered, and the pancakes themselves are best made fresh each time.
Remember: Before experimenting with finger food, your baby needs to be able to sit up unaided, and their developing independence does NOT mean you can supervise them less closely. Finger foods can easily lead to unpredictably large lumps getting swallowed, and potential choking, even on very soft and baby-friendly foods. Do not let your child eat alone in the back of the car, or out of your line of sight in the buggy – safety always comes first.