Fertility

The Ultimate Guide To Baby Finger Foods: What To Choose & Safety Tips

Updated on 8 February 2022 • 24 minute read

 

Overview

Eating solid foods is one of the most exciting milestones your child can experience in their first year. Many moms love watching their baby eat, especially if it’s their first time with solids.

But you might wonder when you can give your baby finger foods and which ones you should choose.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends starting finger foods only when your child can sit up without support. Your baby must also know how to bring their hands or various objects to their mouth. (1)

Are you planning to do traditional (spoon-feeding purées) or baby-led weaning?

With BLW (baby-led weaning), you can start giving your baby finger foods when they’re ready for solids. This might be when they’re around four to six months of age

But you wait a little longer to introduce them to finger foods in traditional weaning.

No matter which feeding approach you choose, you also might ask, “Can my baby choke on finger foods?

The answer isn’t actually a definite “yes” or “no.” 

In reality, any food can potentially become a choking hazard if not prepared or eaten properly. But you can find ways to reduce the choking risks for finger foods.

In preparing your child’s finger foods, always ensure that it’s soft and easy to swallow. It must also be cut in sizes appropriate for their age.

So, what are the best finger foods you can give your baby, and how can you prepare them according to your child’s age? Can bananas be finger food? You can find answers in our article below.

 

Baby Finger Food Safety

Can My Baby Choke On Finger Foods?

Yes. Any food can potentially cause choking or excessive gagging. But some might have a higher risk of causing choking incidents.

You can make mealtimes safer by keeping these choking hazards out of your child’s food options.

As a rule of thumb, avoid giving foods that are either too difficult to chew or too easy to swallow whole accidentally:

  • Hard
  • Small and round
  • Sticky
  • Very chewy or tough

 

Baby Finger Foods To Avoid

Some examples of finger foods that you shouldn’t give your baby:

  • Whole grapes, cherries, or blueberries
  • Raw veggies
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Toast with nut butters
  • Popcorn
  • Marshmallows
  • Hard candies or gummies
  • Hot dogs

 

Aside from being choking hazards, the sweet treats and processed foods on this list lack nutrients. 

Early exposure to added sugars, high-sodium foods, and processed foods can cause obesity and other health problems. (2)(3)

 

Choking Vs. Gagging

It’s important to learn the differences between choking and gagging, to know when and how to help your child.

Gagging is normal. Babies usually have a strong gag reflex, which can help ensure they don’t swallow food when they aren’t ready. It gradually wanes as your child grows.

Your child might also gag on foods that are new to their taste buds.

While you don’t need to help your child when they’re gagging, choking is serious. It happens when something blocks their airways.

Remove the blockage immediately and apply first aid, if necessary. Serious cases of choking can lead to accidental death.

You can learn more about this plus prevention tips in our article on choking in BLW.

 

Introducing Allergens

Experts recommend early allergen introduction when your child is around six months of age to possibly prevent food allergies. (4)

They created guidelines for peanuts, but many pediatricians also recommend the early introduction to other common allergens, including milk and eggs.

Still, it’s important to consult your pediatrician before doing this, especially if your child has known food allergies.

 

Finger Foods For Kids At Daycare

It can be challenging to send your child off to daycare with finger foods because you aren’t there to watch them eat.

So, make sure to double-check their lunch box so they aren’t bringing finger foods that can be a choking hazard.

 

How To Prepare Finger Foods

It’s estimated that around 12,000 children are rushed to the ER each year in the US due to food-choking injuries. (5)

So, it’s essential to find a way to reduce choking incidents as much as you can.

To help ensure your child’s safety, always remember to double-check for possible choking risks. You can follow these tips below:

 

Serving Raw Or Cooked?

  • Your baby’s first finger foods must be soft enough for them to easily gnaw, chew, suck, and move around their mouths.
  • Never give your child raw or undercooked meats, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs. These can cause serious health risks to your child, including food poisoning. (6) Ensure that these foods are cooked until tender to avoid choking risks.
  • Some fruits and vegetables can be served raw, but others should be cooked if they’re too hard for your child. Cooking methods can include steaming or roasting.
  • To check, ensure that you can squish them easily between your fingers.

 

Some examples of foods to consider:

  • You can cook apples until tender for kids below one year old. But you can give it to them raw (peeled) if they’re ready for harder foods after their first birthday.
  • You can give raw pears to your baby as long as it’s ripe and really soft. If it’s still hard, you can follow the guidelines about apples.

 

Proper Cuts & Preparations

  • In preparing your baby’s finger foods, ensure that these foods aren’t too easy to swallow whole accidentally.
  • Give larger cuts (around 2-3 inches) for babies around six months old. Bigger cuts can be easy to hold but too large to swallow whole.
  • Tip: If the slice becomes small after they nibble on it, remove the piece from their food tray. Replace with another large piece.
  • Babies around 8-12 months old may have already developed their pincer grasp. If they can pick food up using their thumb and index finger, you can give them small pieces (the size of a pea).

 

Here are some sample food preparation options according to your child’s age:

 

For 4-9 Months

  • Apples: Don’t give them raw apples. Instead, cut the fruit and steam or cook until tender.
  • Avocado in BLW: You can cut the fruit into thick slices or manageable cubes. It might also be a good idea to leave the peel at the bottom half for your baby to hold the fruit more securely.
  • Bananas: Cut thick slices about the width of two adult fingers.
  • Broccoli florets: You can steam or roast the big florets until tender.
  • Eggs: Don’t give half-cooked eggs to your baby. Cut omelets and frittatas into strips or hard-boiled eggs into quarters. 
  • Meat: Always cook meat until tender. Meat on a bone (drumsticks or ribs) can be ideal for this age group. Your child can nibble on the meat without choking on a big chunk.
  • Pancakes: Cut this in half or slice it into smaller pieces.
  • Sweet Potato: Cut into thick wedges, then steam or roast until tender.

 

For 9-12 Months

  • Apples. You can serve cooked apples in small pieces.
  • Avocado: Cut a ripe avocado into thin slices or small pieces. You can add gluten-free bread crumbs or even hemp seeds for texture. 
  • Bananas: You can cut bananas into thin strips or small cubes. Like the avocado, you can also add some bread crumbs, peanut butter, crushed baby puffs, or hemp seeds. But check first with your pediatrician if your child has known food allergies.
  • Broccoli: You can roast or steam broccoli florets, with or without some spices for seasoning.
  • Eggs: Cut hard-boiled eggs into quarters or scrambled eggs into chunks (but not too big because they can also be a choking hazard).
  • Meat: Always cook meat tender. You can serve shredded or ground meat (such as meatballs and patties) to this age group.
  • Pancakes: You can serve as strips or chop them into small pieces.
  • Sweet Potato: You can cut into thick wedges or chop into smaller pieces before steaming or roasting.

 

For One Year And Above

  • Apples. You can give cooked or raw apples to this age group. But continue to monitor so they won’t bite large chunks (choking hazards).
  • Avocado: You can give your child smaller pieces of avocado.
  • Bananas: Peel the banana and let your child bite it from the top. Your kid can also learn to peel it at this age.
  • Broccoli: You can cut into smaller florets and cook with or without some spices for seasoning.
  • Eggs: You can cut an egg into smaller pieces or even let your child cut it the way they want to.
  • Meat: Meat must still be cooked until tender, but your child can now eat small pieces. You can also cook ground meat with veggies and pasta or patties and meatballs.
  • Pancakes: You can let your child cut whole pancakes into small pieces or still do it for them.
  • Sweet Potato: Never serve raw. You can let your child have some cooked wedges or chopped pieces.

 

Finger food options for children can become increasingly similar to what you can eat as they celebrate their first birthday.

Kids this age might already know how to use cutlery. But you can continue giving them finger foods to munch on.

You can put certain foods (such as pancakes, eggs, or some fruits and veggies) on their plate without cutting them into smaller pieces at this age. Your child can practice cutting these foods up on their own.

Still, even with older children, it’s best to double-check for choking hazards. Also, always watch your child while they’re eating to avoid accidents.

 

What Finger Foods Can I Give My Baby?

The AAP recommends providing your child with a wide variety of foods from the different food groups. You don’t need to follow a certain order in giving them food. (7)

Many foods from all groups can be prepared as finger foods for your baby. You might even want to offer a variety of finger foods per meal for your child’s optimum nutrition.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) recommends providing nutrient-dense complementary foods for your child when they start eating solids. (8)

It’s important to feed them foods rich in iron and zinc, especially if you’re exclusively breastfeeding.

Nutrient-dense foods can provide health-promoting components, including vitamins and minerals your child needs. These foods should be free from added sugars, salt, and saturated fat (such as those cooked in highly processed vegetable oil).

Examples of nutrient-dense foods can include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Whole grains
  • Grass-fed dairy products
  • Lean meats and poultry

 

Like the AAP, this guideline also recommends the early introduction of potentially allergenic foods to your child, along with other nutritious complementary foods. (8)

But always remember to consult your pediatrician before giving allergenic foods to your baby, especially if you’re planning an early allergen introduction.

 

Choosing Healthy Over Processed Foods

Experts advise moms to continue breastfeeding or giving formula to their babies until they’re at least one year old. But kids gradually rely on solid foods as their main nutrition source as they grow.

So, always consider proper nutrition in preparing your baby’s finger food

You might want to choose healthier options such as organic fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy from grass-fed animals, and eggs from free-range, pasture-raised chickens.

Highly processed foods, such as sausages and hot dogs, might seem easy to prepare, but they’re choking hazards. These foods can also contain high amounts of sodium and nitrates, which can cause health problems such as obesity. (3)(9)

Preparing homemade baby foods can be time-consuming, but there are many finger foods that can be easy to prepare.

If you’re pressed for time to prepare your children’s meals or simply want to have other options, you also can try ready-made baby foods.

It might be best to choose certified organic, ready-made foods for your kids.

You can try Little Spoon Plates (big kids’ meals) or Yumi finger foods. These can be free from GMOs (genetically modified organisms, preservatives, added sugar, fillers, and additives.

Both brands offer baby food subscriptions and deliver their products to your doorstep.

While popular, store-bought baby foods are convenient, many can have hidden dangers such as high heavy metal content, preservatives, fillers, artificial flavors, and other additives. (10)(11)

You can learn more about toxic chemicals and other safety issues in our article about baby food recall.

 

Offering Iron-Rich Foods

Iron is an important mineral for kids and adults alike. It helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our bodies. It can also help support your child’s learning abilities. (12)

When your child starts eating solids, they can get iron from several food sources.

Heme iron found in animal products is the better form of iron because it’s readily absorbed and used by your child’s body. (12)

Common sources of heme iron can include:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry (such as chicken or turkey)
  • Eggs
  • Seafood 

 

You can prioritize giving these iron-rich sources as your child’s first finger foods. If possible, try to give iron-rich foods at each meal.

Note that eggs, finned fish, shellfish, and seafood can be common allergens. Check with your child’s pediatrician before giving them these foods.

There are also iron-rich plants, but they contain non-heme iron, which is less easily absorbed. But these plant sources can still be good sources of iron: (12)

  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Dark green leafy vegetables

 

Vitamin C can help promote better absorption, so you might also want to include these foods in your child’s diet:

  • Citrus fruits (clementines, tangerines, lemons, oranges, etc.)
  • Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.)
  • Tomatoes
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Apricots
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Watermelons
  • Guava
  • Spinach
  • Radish
  • Sweet potato

 

But always double-check for choking hazards with these foods. Remove seeds and cut them into sizes appropriate for your child’s age.

You can find some finger food ideas below.

 

Fruits As Finger Foods For Babies

Many fruits aren’t just rich in vitamin C, they also have other essential vitamins and minerals to help promote your baby’s growth and development.

They’re also rich in dietary fibers, which can help your baby have soft, normal stools.

It’s also quite a bonus that many fruits are soft enough to be eaten raw. Even without a knife, most can be easily cut into small, easily manageable pieces.

So, many fruits can be great options, especially for feeding on the go. Many parents bring bananas, oranges, or similar fruits in their bags as an easy-to-prepare meal for their children.

 

Can Bananas Be A Finger Food?

Yes, bananas can be great finger foods for your baby. They’re easy to prepare and good for all ages, as long as your child is ready for solid foods.

There are plenty of ways to serve a banana as finger food:

  • Little spears or slices without toppings
  • Slices with hemp seeds, peanut butter, or other toppings
  • Cut into small pieces
  • Handheld banana (with peel at the bottom)
  • Slices of banana pancakes
  • Small pieces of homemade banana muffins

 

Bananas are rich in these nutrients:

  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Manganese
  • Dietary fiber

 

How Do You Cut Bananas For A Baby? 

Bananas can be an easy food to prepare. There’s no need to cut it. 

Many parents find it easier to simply hand a half-peeled banana to their children. 

Simply trim off around 2 inches from the peel at the upper tip for an easy-to-grip handle at the bottom. Then, peel off more if your kid still wants to eat.

This might not be practical for younger babies, though.

If you still want to cut the fruit, you can follow these suggestions:

For 4-9 months: 

  • Cut bananas into thick spears or slices about the size of your fingers. This way, it can be easier for your baby to pick them up.
  • Bananas can be slippery, but you can add toppings like nut butters, hemp seeds, or gluten-free bread crumbs so they can have more texture. These can help make sliced bananas easier to hold.

 

For 9-12 months: 

  • Again, you can serve without cutting.
  • But for this age group, you can cut bananas into thin strips or small cubes. You can add some bread crumbs, crushed baby puffs, or hemp seeds for added flavor and texture.

 

For one year and above

  • Your kid can also learn to peel it at this age.
  • You can also cut bananas into small pieces or medium-sized chunks.

 

Although bananas aren’t considered a common choking hazard, it’s still important to keep watch on your child while they’re eating to avoid accidents.

 

Apples

Apples are rich in the following:

  • Vitamin C
  • Phytochemicals (healthy plant compounds that may reduce the risks of certain illnesses, including some cancers, diabetes, and heart disease) (13)
  • Dietary fiber

 

There are different ways you can serve apples to your child:

  • Steamed apples
  • Baked apples
  • Sautéd apples

 

Apples are a common choking hazard. But you can still serve them to your child, as long as you prepare them properly. 

You can help reduce choking risks with apples if you do the following:

For 4-9 months:

  • Don’t give babies this age raw apples. Instead, cut the fruit into thick slices or in half, then steam or cook until tender.

 

For 9-12 months:

  • You can serve cooked apples in small pieces or thin slices.

 

For one year and above

  • You can give cooked or raw apples to this age group. But be sure to continue to monitor so they won’t bite off large chunks, which can be choking hazards.

 

Citrus Fruits

There are several kinds of citrus fruits, each with different varieties:

  • Sweet oranges: varieties such as Valencia, blood orange, koji, navel, and cara cara
  • Mandarins: varieties such as clementines, satsuma, tangor, and tangelo
  • Lemons: varieties such as Eureka and Meyer
  • Bergamot orange
  • Limes: varieties such as Persian, key lime, kaffir
  • Grapefruit: varieties such as ruby red, white, and oroblanco
  • Citron
  • Sudachi
  • Tangerines
  • Tangelo
  • Kumquats
  • Yuzu
  • Pomelos

 

Citrus fruits are rich in the following nutrients:

  • Vitamins B and C
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Dietary fiber
  • Antioxidants, which might help reduce the risk of heart problems (14)

 

Because most citrus fruits are sour, you might notice your child making faces while eating. But you can continue serving this.

Most citrus fruits can be easy to prepare. Just peel off the rind, remove the seeds, and cut the individual sections into small pieces.

 

Avocado

This fruit is a good choice as finger food because it can be easy to prepare. It’s soft enough for your child to eat raw.

It’s also rich in nutrients your baby needs, including:

  • Vitamins B and C
  • Folate
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Dietary fibers
  • MUFAs (monounsaturated fats, a healthy kind of fat that can lower the risk of heart disease) (15)

 

Avocado finger food options can include:

  • Slices or spears, with or without coating
  • Mashed avocado on toast
  • Guacamole dip for other finger foods

 

Here are some suggested ways to cut avocado as finger foods:

For 4-9 months:

  • You can cut the fruit into thick slices or manageable cubes.
  • Add texture to each slice with a coating of gluten-free bread crumbs or hemp seeds. 
  • It might also be a good idea to leave the peel at the bottom half for your child to hold the fruit more securely.

 

For 9-12 months:

  • Cut a ripe avocado into thin slices or small pieces
  • You can also add the toppings or coatings if your child likes them.

 

For one year and above

  • You can give your child smaller pieces of avocado.

 

If you’re preparing toast with mashed avocado, be sure to cut the bread into thin slices that your child can easily manage to eat.

 

Ways To Prepare Other Fruits 

Apricots

  • Make sure it’s ripe.
  • Peel and chop into small pieces.

 

Blackberries and blueberries

  • Never serve whole to your child because these small, round fruits are choking hazards.
  • Mash them well. 

 

Cantaloupe

  • Check to make sure it’s ripe.
  • Serve as thicker slices that are easy to hold 

 

Cherries

  • Avoid highly processed cherries, such as maraschino cherries, which can contain added sugars. Instead, choose Royal Ann, Rainier, or Gold varieties.
  • As small, round fruits, they can also be choking hazards. So, don’t serve whole.
  • Be sure to remove the seeds and mash them well. 

 

Grapes

  • Never serve whole grapes; they’re choking hazards.
  • Cut in half, and make sure to remove the seeds.

 

Honeydew and kiwi

  • Check if it’s ripe.
  • Serve as thicker slices that are easy to hold.

 

Mango

  • Although you can eat an unripe mango, it might be too hard for your baby.
  • Instead, choose ripe mangoes. But choose one that isn’t too ripe because that can be too slippery to hold.
  • Cut into strips as thick as your fingers. 
  • Your child can also nibble or suck on a mango pit.

 

Papaya

  • Only choose ripe papayas for your baby. But make sure it isn’t too ripe so it won’t be too slippery or soft to hold.
  • Remove the seeds.
  • Peel and cut into long strips appropriate for your baby’s age.

 

Pear

  • If ripe and soft, peel and cut into slices as thick as your fingers.
  • If unripe and hard, peel and chop before cooking. You can steam or sauté the pear slices until soft.

 

Pineapple, peaches, and plums

  • Make sure they’re ripe.
  • Peel and chop into easily manageable slices.

 

Raspberries and strawberries

  • Check if they’re ripe.
  • Cut strawberries in half.
  • Mash raspberries well. 

 

Watermelon

  • Choose a ripe watermelon.
  • Cut into slices as thick as your fingers. Remove the seeds before giving the slices to your baby.
  • Another option is to cut in the shape of a pie slice. Remove the seeds, but you can keep the rind for your child to hold.

 

Meat, Poultry, And Fish As Finger Foods For Babies

There are many types of meat, but beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and fish are the most common choices.

These can be rich in:

  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Proteins
  • Vitamin B
  • Selenium
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Phosphorus

 

Never let your child eat raw or undercooked meats, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs. These can cause serious health risks, including food poisoning. (6)

Because they are also choking hazards, ensure that they are cooked until tender.

Ways to serve meat as finger foods:

  • Cooked cuts and slices
  • Meat on a bone
  • Ground meat cooked as patties or meatballs

 

Eggs

Eggs can be great first foods for your baby. They’re a nutrient-dense food recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025). (8)

These are some ways to cut eggs according to your baby’s age:

For 4-9 months:

  • Don’t give half-cooked eggs to your baby. 
  • Cut omelets and frittatas into strips or hard-boiled eggs into halves or quarters. 

 

For 9-12 months:

  • Cut hard-boiled eggs into quarters or scrambled eggs into chunks (but not too big because they can also be a choking hazard).

 

For one year and above

  • You can cut an egg into smaller pieces or even let your child cut it the way they want to.

 

But be sure to check with your pediatrician before giving eggs, a common allergen, to your child.

You can learn more about this nutritious yet economical food from our piece about eggs in baby-led weaning.

 

Fish

Some fish can contain high mercury content. This heavy metal can cause problems in your child’s cognitive and brain development. (16)

Avoid these high-mercury fish: (17)

  • Bigeye tuna
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Marlin
  • King mackerel
  • Orange roughy

 

The FDA and EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) recommend the following fish, labeled as “best choices”: (17)

  • Anchovies
  • Salmon
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Butterfish
  • Clam
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Perch
  • Pollock
  • Sardines
  • Tilapia
  • Whitefish

 

Ways to prepare fish can include the following:

  • Poached, roasted, or steamed, then cut into thick slices
  • Baked fish sticks
  • Shredded, de-flaked, and cooked into fish balls or patties

 

Fishbones and spines can be a choking hazard. Be sure to double-check for bones before giving fish dishes to your child.

Note that fish is a common allergen in the US. It’s estimated that fish allergy affects 1% of the entire US population. (18)

Fish allergy is more prevalent for finned fish, including cod, tuna, catfish, and salmon. (18)

Consult your child’s pediatrician before giving them fish, especially if they have other known food allergies.

 

Other Options To Prepare Meat

No matter which kind of meat you’re preparing for your child, make sure it’s thoroughly cooked and tender.

You can add some spices to taste for these foods, but hold the salt.

Here are some ways to prepare meat for your child:

 

Beef

  • Ground and cooked as a meatball or patty
  • Meat on a bone (ribs)
  • Pea-sized small pieces
  • Shredded meat can sometimes be a choking hazard, so it might be best to only give this to children over one year old.

 

Chicken

  • Chicken can be cooked in different ways: roasted, baked, grilled, steamed, etc.
  • It might be best to serve chicken on a bone, such as a drumstick.
  • You can also serve chopped chicken or cut it into 2-3 inch strips around the size of your finger.
  • Ground chicken can be cooked as patties with minced or grated veggies, like carrots.
  • It can also be served diced or shredded. But be sure the meat is tender enough for your child to chew.

 

Pork

  • Cut out the fat before cooking, or opt for lean meat.
  • You can prepare this as meatballs, diced, meat on a bone (preferably ribs), or cut into pea-sized pieces.

 

Seafood (shrimp)

  • Cooked until very soft and diced
  • Serve by chopping or mincing into bite-sized pieces. 
  • You can also serve whole deveined, peeled shrimp for children over two years old. But make sure they know how to cut a small piece from the shrimp instead of putting the entire food inside their mouth.

 

Turkey

  • Cooking options can include baking, roasting, grilling, and steaming.
  • Roast a cut, such as a thigh part or a breast cut.
  • Serve diced or shredded (for kids over one year old)
  • You can also opt to chop into small pieces or slice into 2-3 inch strips (around the size of your fingers).

 

Different kinds of ground meat

  • It applies to beef, lamb, pork, turkey, or chicken. 
  • You can cook it as meatballs or patties.
  • Sauté in a pan and add in your favorite seasoning. Continue stirring until cooked.
  • You might also want to leave some bigger clumps of cooked ground meat that can be easier for your little one to hold.

 

Veggies

As a rule, always cook hard vegetables until they’re tender enough to squish between your fingers easily. 

Ways of cooking vegetables can include:

  • Steaming 
  • Roasting
  • Baking
  • Sautéing in olive or coconut oil

 

You can cut them into fat sticks for younger babies, then into small pieces when your child has developed their pincer grasp.

Spices like cumin and paprika can add flavor to your vegetables, but avoid salt. 

You can also let your child dip their finger foods in hummus or their favorite puree.

 

Carrots

This vegetable is rich in:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin K1
  • Vitamin B6
  • Lutein

 

Here are some suggested ways to cut and prepare carrots:

For 4-9 months:

  • Steam or roast carrot sticks until tender. 

 

For 9-12 months:

  • Dice into small pieces and cook until tender.

 

For one year and above

  • Your toddler can also try roasted carrot sticks or enjoy grated carrots mixed with meat in patties.

 

Broccoli

This vegetable is rich in:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin

 

You can make finger foods from broccoli by following these suggestions:

For 4-9 months:

  • You can steam or roast whole florets until tender. 

 

For 9-12 months:

  • You can roast or steam broccoli florets with or without some spices for seasoning.

 

For one year and above

  • You can cut into smaller florets and cook with or without some spices for seasoning.

 

You can add some spices for seasoning or other natural flavors, including garlic, cumin, lemon juice, and some grated or shredded cheese. You can also opt to add a drizzle of olive oil or virgin coconut oil.

Be careful with cheese as it’s a dairy product. Ask your pediatrician whether you can give this to your baby.

 

Sweet Potato

This vegetable is rich in:

  • Vitamins A and C
  • Potassium
  • Beta-carotene
  • Dietary fiber

 

Here are some ways to cut and prepare sweet potatoes as finger foods:

For 4-9 months:

  • Cut into thick wedges, then steam or roast until tender.

 

For 9-12 months:

  • You can cut these into thick wedges or chop them into smaller pieces before steaming or roasting.

 

For one year and above

  • Never serve raw. You can let your child have some cooked wedges or chopped pieces.

 

Other Ways To Prepare Veggies For Finger Foods

Black beans

  • Cook until tender, then drain.
  • These small, round pieces can be a choking hazard. So, gently mash them to create a purée texture. 

 

Chickpeas

  • Cook until tender, then strain or drain completely.
  • Lightly mash chickpeas with the back of a fork before serving to your baby.

 

Tofu

  • Cut it into small pieces or strips as thick as your fingers.
  • There are several ways to cook tofu, but you can try pan-seared or baked for your baby.

 

Zucchini and eggplant

  • Peel and cut into strips as thick as your finger. 
  • Steam for around four minutes.
  • Another option is to slice them, then sauté with some coconut or olive oil until tender. 

 

Asparagus

  • Steam for around eight minutes or roast until tender.
  • Slice into strips around 2-3 inches long. 

 

Peppers (Red, Yellow, Orange, or Green)

  • You can serve them raw or gently steamed.
  • Cut in strips as long as your fingers or in thicker wedges. For children over nine months old, you can also try giving it to them in small, pea-sized pieces.

 

Cauliflower

  • Steam or roast the florets until just tender. 
  • Give bigger florets to younger babies, but you can start cutting them into small pieces for infants over nine months old.

 

Cherry Tomatoes

  • Serve raw.
  • Never give your child a whole cherry tomato because that can be a choking hazard. Instead, cut into quarters or eighths.

 

Parsnips and turnips

  • Peel and cut into thin strips around 2-3 inches long. 
  • Steam or roast until tender. You can also add some spices like cumin or rosemary for added flavor.

 

Peas

  • Steam until tender.
  • Lightly mash so the peas won’t be round because they can still be choking hazards to your baby.

 

Cucumber

  • Serve raw.
  • Peel, remove all the seeds, and cut them into 2-3 inch strips.

 

Green Beans

  • Remove the thick, string-like fibers that run along its length.
  • Cut into strips as long as your fingers.
  • Steam or sauté in a small pan with olive oil until tender.

 

Pumpkin and squash

  • Peel and remove the seeds.
  • Slice into pieces about two fingers’ width.  
  • Dice or chop into small pieces for older babies.
  • Cook until tender, but not until the vegetable turns to mush.

 

Potatoes

  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into strips as big as your fingers or smaller pieces.
  • There are many ways of cooking potatoes: boiling, steaming, mashing, roasting, or frying in coconut or olive oil.

 

Mushrooms

  • Cut into small pieces or thin strips.
  • Sauté with a little olive oil until tender.

 

Whole Grains & Other Carbohydrate Sources

Whole grains can be a great source of carbohydrates that your baby needs for energy. You can choose to boil them or use them in other ways, such as homemade bread and muffins.

Many grains such as barley and wheat contain gluten, a common allergen. Flour and baked products made from the ingredients also contain gluten.

So, be sure to check with your child’s pediatrician before giving them to your child. Another option is to check the label to avoid products that contain the allergen.

 

Pancakes And Waffles

Typical pancakes and waffles are made of white flour, but you can choose whole grain options or even gluten-free flours for a healthier meal for your baby.

For 4-9 months:

  • Cut this in half or slice into strips. 

 

For 9-12 months:

  • You can serve as strips or chop them into small pieces.

 

For one year and above

  • You can let your child cut whole pancakes or waffles into small pieces or still do it for them. 

 

Other Ways To Prepare Grains

If possible, choose whole grain. It might be difficult to tell from the products, but it’s a good practice to check the label before buying your ingredients.

Again, also check for gluten.

Here are some ways to prepare grains as finger foods for your baby:

Oatmeal

  • Baked oatmeal cups
  • Overnight oats

 

French toast

  • Diced or cut into thin strips.

 

Pasta

  • Some kinds of pasta can be good finger food for your baby. Examples can include penne, rigatoni, or macaroni.
  • Cook pasta until tender.
  • But if you can, try not to give pasta to babies below one year old. Whole foods can be a healthier option.
  • Choose gluten-free pasta options if following a gluten-free diet.

 

Toast

  • Whole-grain or gluten-free bread can be a good choice.
  • You can add toppings like peanut butter (but ensure it’s not too sticky), scrambled eggs, or mashed avocado.
  • Cut the toast into strips about the size of two adult fingers.

 

But always be on the lookout for possible allergens, such as peanuts and gluten, in your baby’s toast.

 

When To Start Finger Foods

The age that your child starts eating finger foods can vary, depending on their readiness and what feeding approach you might choose.

 

Traditional Weaning

Some parents are more confident in choosing soft solids like purée or mush as their baby’s first foods.

You can find a great selection of foods from Little Spoon and Yumi. Examples include the following:

  • Little Spoon Butternut Squash Purée 
  • Yumi Pea and Japanese Sweet Potato

 

There’s no specific age to start your baby on finger foods in traditional weaning. 

But some parents begin introducing their children to finger foods when they’re around eight or nine months old. Others might wait when the child is 10 months old.

You can prepare homemade baby foods or choose ready-made ones. If you’re buying ready-made foods, we recommend choosing healthy and organic options for your child.

 

Baby-Led Weaning

In baby-led weaning, you introduce your baby to finger foods when they start on solids

This means that you also give finger foods to your four-month-old baby if they show readiness to eat solids.

But always consult with your pediatrician before giving any kind of solid foods to a child below six months old.

Even though it’s a self-feeding method, studies show that BLW may not have a higher choking risk than traditional weaning. (19)(20)(21)

 

Combination Approach

Some parents prefer doing a combination of traditional and baby-led weaning. In this feeding method, you can give your child the food they prefer. You can spoon-feed with purée or let them try self-feeding using their own spoon.

If you’re unsure which feeding approach to choose, our article on baby-led weaning vs. purées might help you make the right choice.

 

How to Introduce New Finger Foods for Baby

Introducing new foods can be challenging, but you can start with small portions to avoid wasting a lot of food.

Prepare the food, and cut them in the suggested length or size according to your child’s age. Put them on your child’s high chair tray and let them try new finger foods.

Your baby might make faces and gag on the new food, but that doesn’t always mean they hate the food. Continue giving it to them until they’re used to the taste, smell, and texture.

 

What Finger Foods Can I Give My 6-Month-Old?

Many finger foods can be ideal for your 6-month-old baby, especially if you’re doing baby-led weaning. But always ensure that these pieces of food are tender or soft enough to eat without a lot of chewing.

Here are some examples of finger foods for them to try, cooked and sliced accordingly:

  • Bananas
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Peach
  • Pears (raw if ripe, cooked if still hard)
  • Watermelon
  • Smashed raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or other berries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Clementines or oranges (with seeds removed)
  • Avocado
  • Tofu
  • Cooked vegetables (sweet potato, cauliflower, carrot, squash, zucchini, broccoli florets, or beets)
  • Smashed cherry tomatoes
  • Cheese strips
  • Mashed beans
  • Meat and fish

 

Always double-check for choking hazards before giving any of these foods to your baby.

Some safety tips to remember:

  • Cut small, round fruits and vegetables into halves or quarters. 
  • Be sure to remove seeds from fruits like oranges and watermelons.
  • Cook hard fruits and veggies, fish, meat, and poultry until tender.

 

These are some suggested foods for 6-month-olds, but you can also give these to older kids.

 

What Finger Foods Can I Give My 7-Month-Old

These are some new foods you can offer to your 7-month-old child:

  • Toast with avocado or nut butters
  • Apricots
  • Parsnips (peeled and cooked)
  • Pumpkin (cooked until soft)
  • Gluten-free breadsticks
  • Unsalted oatcakes
  • Steamed tofu strips
  • Asparagus
  • Pancakes
  • Veggie fritters or nuggets
  • Veggie mini muffins
  • Hummus
  • Cheese

 

But ask your baby’s pediatrician if they can eat cheese, a dairy product that might contain milk protein allergens. Do the same thing for peanut butter.

 

Can A 7-Month-Old Eat Spaghetti? 

Yes. You can serve spaghetti to your 7-month-old. It’s a popular meal that many kids love. 

But check first with your pediatrician if your child has a gluten allergy before giving them spaghetti and other pasta.

Another option is to choose gluten-free pasta to prepare your child’s spaghetti.

 

What Finger Foods Can You Give An 8-Month-Old

If you haven’t already introduced them to your child, here are some foods for them to try at this age:

  • Fish
  • Red meat
  • Chicken 
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Butternut squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Tofu
  • Ripe mango

 

What Foods Should I Avoid Giving My 8-Month-Old?

  • Never give honey to children under one year of age because of the risk of botulism. It’s an illness caused by toxins from the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. (22)
  • Avoid giving raw or undercooked foods, especially meat, poultry, and eggs. These can cause food-borne illnesses. (6)
  • Pure cow’s milk has too many proteins and minerals that your baby’s kidneys can’t handle. Only introduce this once they’re at least one year old and above. (23)
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk and dairy products due to the risk of listeria, a potentially deadly illness from harmful bacteria in these food items. (24)
  • Babies need fats (healthy fats like MUFAs, monounsaturated fatty acids such as those found in avocado) for growth and development. So, try not to give them low-fat versions of food (vs. full fat) unless your pediatrician recommends it. (15)
  • Never give them foods high in salt and added sugars because these can cause obesity. (2)(3)

 

Finger Foods For 9+ Months Old

Your child can enjoy more foods you and the rest of the family can eat at this age.

If you haven’t already introduced them to these foods, they can be great for your baby at this age:

  • Cherries
  • Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and other berries
  • Orange, grapefruits, and watermelon (with seeds removed)
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Melon
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant (aubergine) 
  • Beets 
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Potato
  • Turnips
  • Spinach
  • Sweet corn
  • Green beans
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Lentils
  • Tomatoes
  • Flax
  • Millet
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Ground meat (cooked as patties)
  • Salmon
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Yogurt
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheese sticks
  • Peas

 

But even at this age, be sure to check for choking hazards. Also, ask your pediatrician’s advice for foods that you think your child might need to try or avoid, including potential allergens.

Note that the lists above aren’t specific foods to give to each age group. You can pick any food from these lists to give to kids in other age groups.

You can learn more about other suggested finger foods for your baby in this article we made on BLW foods by age.

 

Some Useful Products For The Finger Food Stage

  • Sturdy high chair with footrest
  • Dining utensils that are easy to hold
  • Oversized bib, sleeved bib, or a bib with catch pocket
  • Sectioned plate
  • Open lid cup
  • Easy-to-clean mat to cover the floor
  • Cutting tools

 

Some Recipes To Try

Egg And Spinach Cups

Ingredients

  • Six eggs (preferably organic)
  • 2 oz milk (breast milk or formula)
  • 1 tsp olive or coconut oil 
  • A handful of spinach
  • One regular tomato or six cherry tomatoes 
  • One red bell pepper

 

Preparation Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Whisk the milk and eggs together until fluffy.
  3. Sprinkle the muffin pan with oil.
  4. Chop the tomatoes, spinach, and bell pepper.
  5. Sautée veggies in coconut oil separately
  6. Pour in your mixture of eggs and veggies, filling half of each section.
  7. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, until well cooked.
  8. Cool before serving.

 

Be sure to check with their pediatrician before giving eggs, a common allergen, to your child.

You can add toppings, such as cheese. But only use cheese if your child doesn’t have a dairy allergy.

 

Baby’s First Egg Omelet

Ingredients

  • Two eggs (preferably organic)
  • 2 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp pre-cooked veggies and/or meat strips 

 

Preparation Instructions

  • Crack the eggs.
  • Mix/whisk in a small bowl.
  • Pour oil into a pan and heat (medium fire).
  • Add your egg mixture into the pan.
  • Turn down heat (medium-low).
  • Once it sets, put the pre-cooked meat or veggies on one side.
  • Fold your egg with a spatula.
  • You can also flip it and cook the other side.
  • Let cool and cut into thin strips.

 

Another good option is to cook the omelet without veggies or meat. Simply serve the egg together with meat or veggie strips on your baby’s food tray.

Again, check with your pediatrician if your child has egg allergies.

 

Eggs And Avocado On Toast

Avocado can be a good option as healthy finger food for your baby. 

Ingredients

  • One hard-boiled egg, peeled
  • One half of a ripe avocado
  • Bread slices (opt for bread that’s free from gluten, nuts, sugar, or honey)

 

Preparation Instructions

  1. Scoop the avocado.
  2. Place it in a small bowl.
  3. Mash it.
  4. Do the same thing to a hard-boiled egg.
  5. Get a slice of bread.
  6. Spread the mashed avocado and egg.
  7. Toast.

 

Ensure that the toast has cooled down before giving it to your child.

You can also use other toppings to mix with your egg toast, including fruit or vegetable purées.

Eggs are a common allergen. Consult your doctor before egg introduction or choose other toppings (such as mashed bananas) for your baby’s toast.

Find more finger food ideas from our compilation of baby-led weaning recipes for your little one.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

(1) https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/141/1_MeetingAbstract/101/5461/Chew-on-This-Not-All-Products-Labeled-First-Finger

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6959843/

(3) https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/eating-highly-processed-foods-linked-weight-gain

(4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33250376/

(5) https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/choking_prevention_for_children.htm

(6) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/childrens-food-safety-and-hygiene/

(7) https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html

(8) https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

(9) https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/finger-foods.html

(10) https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/2021-02-04%20ECP%20Baby%20Food%20Staff%20Report.pdf

(11) https://www.healthybabyfood.org/sites/healthybabyfoods.org/files/2019-10/BabyFoodReport_FULLREPORT_ENGLISH_R5b.pdf

(12) https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/vitamins-minerals/iron.html

(13) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/apples/

(14) https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/boost-your-senses-with-citrus-fruits

(15) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/mufas/faq-20057775

(16) https://www.epa.gov/mercury/health-effects-exposures-mercury

(17) https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish

(18) https://www.foodallergy.org/living-food-allergies/food-allergy-essentials/common-allergens/fish

(19) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27647715/

(20) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23183112/

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6202902/

(22) https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/botulism.html

(23) https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/cows-milk-and-milk-alternatives.html

(24) https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/raw-milk-03-16/advice-consumers.html

 

 

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