Meal Time Madness: Perfect Finger Foods for Toddlers

Starting solids is certainly an experience for new moms. Once your baby begins eating solids they’ll go through different stages as they learn how to eat thicker textures working their way up to regular table food. It will be awhile before your little one will have the fine motor skills to be able to properly eat from a spoon, so here to help I’ve shared some ideas on the perfect finger foods for toddlers to serve up at meal time and safe snacks.

Finger Foods

baby eatingTypically between the ages of 7 and 11 months babies are old enough to begin eating finger foods. Be sure your baby is old enough to sit upright and is accustomed to eating thicker textures. Once your baby has mastered the pincer grasp, typically around 12 months, they will become much more independent feeders. Below I’ve listed some great choices in first finger foods for toddlers.

  • Soft vegetables such as steamed diced carrots, peas, and zucchini
  • Pasta such as spiral pasta and elbow macaroni, or even ravioli
  • Bread or toast
  • Cereals (those that can be easily picked up with tiny hands such as Cheerios)
  • Diced pieces of cheese and crackers
  • Soft fruits such as bananas, diced peaches and mangoes
  • Soft pieces of fish such as Cod or other white-fleshed varieties
  • Cooked pieces of cubed chicken in small bite sizes
  • Meatballs cut up into bite sized pieces
  • Eggs, hard-boiled or scrambled

There are certain foods your baby’s pediatrician may advise against such as shellfish, which are believed to contain high allergens. Follow your doctor’s orders regarding avoiding certain foods, especially if your baby is prone to food allergies. There are also a wide variety of baby-tailored snacks available in stores such as puffed rice snacks and teething biscuits that are made to dissolve quickly.

Foods to Avoid
There are certain foods that should be avoided. Honey and foods that are honey-baked such as Honey Nut Cheerios or Golden Grahams should not be given to infants under 12 months. Avoid these following finger foods that can pose a choking hazard for toddlers.

  • Weiners
  • Popcorn
  • Raw vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Whole grapes
  • French fries

*Also hold off on harder fruits including apples even if they’re peeled as these can easily get trapped in your baby’s wind pipe. After your baby’s first birthday they should be ready to take on many of the foods you eat, just keep in mind what potential hazards to avoid. Avoid giving your baby uncooked meats such as deli meats and be sure that meats have been thoroughly cooked to avoid food-borne illnesses especially in babies who are at greater risk.

Always supervise your toddler when they are eating to watch for any dangers of choking or food allergies. As a word of caution, be prepared to have plenty of wipes on hand because babies get very messy as they explore new foods! I like to try to stay away from foods with sauces as an effort to keep messes down to a minimum; however do not limit your baby’s tastes. If we’re having something I know will be particularly messy, such as spaghetti, I’ll serve it to him for supper when I’m going to plop him in tub right afterwards.

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