Starting a child out on soft and solid foods can be a nerve-racking but exciting adventure for parents with growing babies. Between the mess, the potential of the child being allergic to the food, and possible hazards, it is no wonder why parents, especially first-time parents, are always right there watching them like a hawk, white-knuckled while waiting to see if anything bad happens.
Just because there are possible complications doesn’t mean a parent should avoid trying new foods with their child. There are many different foods out there that will tickle their child’s pallet, while at the same time giving them some healthy and nutritious snacks to help them practice feeding themselves. There are a few helpful hints a parent can look for in their child to know if they are ready to move up from jar baby food to actual food.
For example, one indicator is if the baby starts to become interested in reaching for the food, grabbing the bowl or spoon, putting the spoon in their mouth, or also fussing while their parent tries to eat are all signs that they are ready to start adventuring on their own. Another example of an indicator is if they start to sit up on their own. By being able to independently sit without any help is a physical sign that tells their parents, “I am ready for finger foods!”
When the time comes to start one’s child on finger foods, be it at 6 or even 9 months, it is best to pick out foods that can be broken into small pieces and are easily dissolved in their mouth. Once the baby starts to grow and learn how to properly maneuver their tongue, chew the food properly, and swallow correctly, then the parent can branch out to different foods.
Keep scrolling to learn about 20 finger foods that are great for new babies just starting out.
23 Green Peas (Great For Teething Babies)
For those loving parents who are ready to give up the mush and start their child on some yummy solids, a great new thing to start them on is whole peas. Not only are they the perfect texture and a whole new taste for the little one, but they are also perfect at teaching them to learn the pincer grip.
According to parents.com, parents can steam, boil or just give it to them frozen. Do not worry, though, even when whole peas are frozen, they are not a choking hazard because of how small they are. Frozen peas are a great way to give teething babies a bit of relief.
The worst thing that can happen is they come out whole from the other end.
22 Puffs And Dry Cereal (Helps To Teach Baby The Pincher Grip)
There are a few really good reasons why dry cereal and puffs snack treats for babies are such great finger foods for babies just starting out on solid and soft foods.
According to thebump.com, puffs snacks and dry cereal help babies to learn and perfect the pincer grasp by making the child have to pick up one piece at a time. They can only go so far with the palm grasp.
That mixed with the fact that once the treats are in the child’s mouth, they start to soften and dissolve, making them the perfect snack for babies that won't be a choking hazard.
21 Steamed Or Boiled Fish (Helps With Brain Development)
Fish is amazing finger food for babies switching over to solid food for the first time. It is not only tasty, but soft, easy to chew, and very nutritious.
According to parents.com, the best fish for babies is Coldwater fish such as salmon, trout and halibut, all which provides babies with DHA, which is a fatty acid that is very important to help babies with brain development in the first 24 months of their life.
The best way to serve the fish is broiled or steamed and without salt, but only if the child is under 12-months of age. It should also be cut up into very small pieces or separated into flakes as to avoid choking.
20 Bread And Teething Biscuits (Great Starter Food That Dissolves Quickly)
Bread is a great starter finger food when separated into small pieces and completely removed of any crust.
According to thebump.com, bread, along with teething biscuits, soften quickly when placed into a child’s mouth, making them great snacks for babies still learning how to chew and swallow properly.
One the baby is older, typically around 9 to 12 months, the parent can move up and start to give them bigger pieces, or they can also top the bread with mashed bananas or avocados. It is even ok to give the baby hummus or peanut butter, as long as they layer the bread with a super thin layer of these toppings.
19 Thick Cereal, Mashed Potatoes, & Sticky Rice (Messy, But Beneficial)
A lot of parents would rather avoid foods that create big messes. Mashed potatoes, thick cereal, and sticky rice are all foods that can make not only a big mess of the surrounding areas but can also leave a big mess on the child that will lead to needing a bath.
According to parents.com, though these types of food are messy and unconventional, they are great foods a great at teaching baby to self-feed. They are important to developmental stages and can even help them to be better learners.
For parents who are afraid of messes, the best way to protect one’s floor is to lay a plastic mat under their child’s high chair before allowing them to go to town on the messy goodness.
18 Avocado (Messy, But Helps Boost Brain Development)
Avocado has a major perk to it that helps with the brain development of babies, making it the perfect finger food to give to young children.
According to thebump.com, avocados are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid. Like puffs snack treats or dry cereal, avocados are typically always the first finger food to be given to babies, even at stages where their teeth of yet to grow in.
Just be warned, though, they can be super messy, even though that does not matter since they are completely worth it. Parents should just think of the whole experience as a great time to get some very cute and very hilarious photos of their little one.
17 Cooked Chopped Meat (Yummy And A Good Source Of Iron)
Meat is a great source of iron, which is a needed nutrient for growing babies, especially those who are breastfed.
According to parents.com, it is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to start babies just starting on solid foods with meat, but it is ok to give when they start being able to pick up foods with their fingers, typically around 7 to 9 months.
It is best to make sure the meat is cooked fully and soft, not hard and cut into small pieces. Foods such as meatballs and burgers are perfect for babies due to how soft the meat is after cooking.
16 Tofu (Great Source Of Protein)
Tofu can be eaten in many ways, but what is beneficial about it is that no matter how it is made, be it cooked or uncooked, it is a wonderful source of protein and awesome finger food for babies who are just starting out.
According to thebump.com, parents should try and buy firm tofu if they want to test it with their child. Firm tofu is quite soft, even though the name suggests it is not. What is beneficial about firm tofu is that unlike soft or silken tofu, firm tofu will not fall apart in the child’s hand, causing them to become frustrated and give up on eating it.
15 Cooked Beans (Nutritional Powerhouses That Are Ideal Finger Foods)
Beans are a great source of foods for those babies who have got the pincer grasp down pack.
According to parents.com, well-cooked beans are an ideal finger food that most babies will love due to their soft texture and mild taste. They are also huge nutritional powerhouses due to being loaded with protein, fiber, folic acid, and many other important nutrients.
If parents would rather buy cans instead of frozen beans, it is best to make sure they purchase canned beans that are BPA-free or tetra packs, and to also rinse them thoroughly to get all excess sodium off of them.
14 Cubed Cheese (A Yummy Treat For Baby)
Cheese is great finger food for babies who have yet to show any signs of having a dairy allergy.
According to thebump.com, if around 6 months of age a child is showing no signs of having issues with dairy, then it is perfectly fine to try and see if they like cubed cheese.
For those parents who want to try it out on them, it is best if they allow their child small bits of pasteurized cheese that is still soft, but that does not smell funny or is sticky. A child will probably refuse to eat any type of cheese if they smell something that smells like it has been sitting outside all day in a pile of garbage under a hot 100-degree sun.
13 Steamed Veggies (Mushy Yumminess That Are Great For Babies Just Starting Real Food)
Typically, foods such as raw carrots and green beans are off limits for all babies under the age of 12-months until they have the ability to chew and swallow hard foods safely.
According to parents.com though, while raw vegetables are not ok, steamed vegetables are. Normally, around 7 to 8-months, it is ok to start babies on steamed vegetables due to them being mushy and easily ingested.
It is best to make sure before serving them that they are completely soft and can be squashed between two fingers. If they become mush, then they are perfect and ready to serve to a hungry baby.
12 Homemade Muffins (A Healthy Snack Or Dessert For Baby)
Many parents do not like to give their child store-bought goodies due to all the sugar that they contain. Just because store bought ones are loaded with unhealthy substances though, doesn’t mean there are not healthy alternatives.
According to thebump.com, if a parent wants to give their child a healthy carb filled treat once in a while, a good alternative is healthy homemade muffins. By using whole-wheat flour, sweetening it with applesauce instead of sugar, and adding different healthy fruits to it, parents are giving their child a healthy, yummy finger food that is soft and perfect for them.
11 Frozen Yogurt Drops (Great Snack Or Dessert)
Yogurt drops are not only yummy to eat but also really fun to make. According to parents.com, these yummy treats are full of probiotic nutrients that are great for growing babies, while also a great way to help soothe teething gums.
The easiest way to make these delicious snacks is by filling a zip-top bag with flavored yogurt, then snipping off the corners and squeezing drops of the yogurt onto an oiled baking sheet or plate. Once the plate or sheet is full, put them in the freezer to freeze solid and then store them in an airtight plastic bag or container in the freezer.
Serve frozen for an easy, fun-filled, yummy snack that is great for teething babies to help soothe their sore gums.
10 Bananas (Great Source Of Potassium)
Bananas are a yummy and mushy treat that is great for babies who are just starting out with soft and solid foods.
According to babycenter.com, bananas are a great source of potassium, along with vitamin B6, C, calcium, and iron, which are all essential vitamins for a growing baby.
There are many ways one could serve this grab-and-go snack. For example, one could mix it up in a blender with some yogurt, maybe some other different fruits, such as strawberries or blueberries and milk, to make them a yummy smoothie that mom or dad can put right in their sippy cup to sip on and enjoy.
9 Noodles Or Pasta (A Yummy Meal That Every Baby Will Love)
Yummy, yummy pasta. A quick and easy meal that is super yummy to boot.
According to parents.com, pasta is a great finger food to give babies starting out on finger foods and it is one of their favorite foods to eat not only because they are so yummy, but because they are so easy to handle.
Thought easy to handle, pasta can still be a choking hazard for babies. The best way to serve to a child is to make sure it is fully cooked and to cut up into small pieces that will easily be swallowed.
So, if pasta is for dinner, don’t be afraid to pull up the high-chair and allow the little one to join in.
8 Blueberries (Packed With Antioxidants)
According to babycenter.com, blueberries are one fruit that is just bursting at the seems with antioxidants. The little, bite-sized, delicious treats are great for growing babies due to their beneficial qualities, such as helping with baby’s eyes, brain, and their urinary tract.
Just like bananas, blueberries can be added with some milk and yogurt to make a delicious smoothie that mom or dad can pour into their child’s sippy cup and allow them to go to town with a yummy drink that benefits as a meal.
Another nice treat is adding the blueberries to some coconut milk and rice pudding and allowing them to go to town.
7 Soft Fruit (Nutritious And Ultra Easy For Babies)
When it comes to wanting a fast and easy snack or meal, one option that is always a yummy one and that doesn’t need to be cooked is soft fruits and vegetables. They are juicy, will tickle a baby’s pallet, soft enough to chew if the baby doesn't have too many teeth, and are also easy to grab and pick up.
According to parents.com, fruits such as watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, and avocados are all delicious fingers foods that can be cut into small cubes or tiny elongate pieces to help babies as young as 6-months old grab and chow down on.
Not only are they ultra-easy for baby to grab and enjoy, though, they are also full of nutrients that are beneficial in baby’s development.
6 Prunes (Soft, Sweet, And Full Of Fiber)
Not a lot of people like prunes, but just because mom or dad don't like them, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try and give them to their baby, especially when they have such great benefits.
According to babycenter.com, prunes, or dried plums, are sweet, soft and full of fiber. There are occasions where a baby will suffer from constipation, especially when switching to solids, which is why prunes can be such a big help.
By adding prunes to their diet, mom and dad are helping to aid their digestion and keep things moving along, which is a big relief, especially to those babies who tend to get constipated more than others.
5 Scrambled Eggs (Packed With Iron And Protein)
Once upon a time, it was thought that egg whites were a no-no for children under the age of one. Now days though, thanks to new studies and testing, we have learned that they are actually completely safe and a great source of iron, protein, and choline for growing babies.
According to parents.com, eggs are a super easy and yummy finger food that is easily found in every parent’s fridge and only take a few minutes to whip up and serve to a hungry baby.
They are also soft enough that they don’t need teeth to chew and can swallow easily.
4 Sweet Potatoes (Full Of Vitamins And Sweet To Boot)
It seems that when moms and dads switch their child to jar baby food, they tend to always try sweet potatoes first. It may be due to that mom and dad love them, or maybe its because it is typically a baby’s favorite first time around due to the sweetness and texture.
According to babycenter.com, sweet potatoes are a root vegetable that is loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin C and lots of minerals including iron and copper, all necessities for growing babies.
There are many ways mom or dad can prepare sweet potatoes to give their child some variety. One being just alone, or they can mix it in with some pureed chicken or turkey to give them a yummy full course meal.
3 Broccoli Florets (A Great Food For Babies Still Doing The Palm Grab Routine)
When a baby first starts to eat solid foods on their own, they go through different grasps to pick up the food and put it in their mouth. Before they get the pincer grip down pack, they go through the palm gram, which makes broccoli florets the perfect food for learning babies.
According to parents.com, the best way to serve this yummy green treat is to boil it until it is soft and can easily be chewed by someone with only a few teeth. At first, a baby might not like it due to its bitter taste, but that doesn’t mean parents should give up.
With constant exposure, babies will accept any food in time, even the less tasty ones.
2 Winter Squash (Soft, Sweet And Loaded With Vitamins)
When it comes to some great finger foods, yellow or orange colored winter squashes, such as butternut, acorn, and pumpkin, are the way to go.
According to babycenter.com, these types of squash are loaded with many benefits for one’s growing baby. One benefit is they are loaded with rich beta-carotene, which is great for the eyes, and let’s not forget how they are also full of yummy vitamin C.
Add the benefits to the fact they are naturally sweet and have a creamy texture that allows for easy eating for young babies, and they are just all that much a necessity for children starting solids.
1 Cucumber Strips (Great Finger Food For Those Babies Who Are Teething)
For babies with little to no teeth, cucumber strips will be a hard snack to bite on, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful.
According to parents.com, cucumber strips make a great teething snack for babies with sore gums who want some relief. They might not be able to eat them, but they can gnaw on them when they are cold to try and gain some relief, which will give mom and dad some relief when they don’t have a fussy baby.
The best way to prevent choking is to make sure the cucumbers are cut into long and wide strips. By doing this, parents are allowing their child to gnaw on the cucumbers without biting pieces off into larger chunks.
References: parents.com, thebump.com, babycenter.com