When looking for finger foods for babies please remember that each baby is different, although babies normally start self feeding between the ages of 6 to 9 months not all babies may show interested at this stage. When starting finger foods it is important to apply the 4-day rule.
What is this 4-day rule? The 4-day rule is a simple way to check if your baby has any sensitive or allergic reaction to new or different food types. Except for food allergies when introducing new foods to your baby you as parent might also be facing digestive problems like stomach pains, gas etc. When choosing to introduce your baby to new foods, choose to do so wisely. Take one food type at a time and space it over a 4-day period before introducing the next food type to your infant. By introducing food like a banana in the beginning of the week for example Monday, one should wait until at least Thursday before introducing another food type. By applying this rule, a parent can better determine what reaction the baby has to that specific type of food. It is also advised to try and introduce new types of food early in the morning, should your baby experience any negative side effects, so that you as a parent can still have the option of contacting the pediatrician during office hours. This also prevents any major disruption during your baby’s routine. A parent can start disregarding the 4-day rule, when your baby has been introduced to several new food types without any negative side effects. Should you have a family with a history of food allergies, it would be advised to continue the 4-day rule until your baby has reached 12 months of age.
Now that we looked at what to do when we start giving finger foods to babies, let us have a look at how do you know when your baby is ready for finger foods. Babies normally start self-feeding between the ages of 6 to 9 months. This is the stage were parents start to experiment with new tastes, textures etc.
When an infant reaches 9 months, they have already started to develop a fine motor skill, called the pincher grasp. This action takes place when your baby starts to pick up small objects and hold them between the thumb and fore finger. In the beginning, they are clumsy, but with practice, they improve this skill to perfection. Finger food is not just fun but also have a very important lesson that is taught to your baby. Finger food gives your baby more control over what they eat and how much they consume. This is a self-regulating process, which in turn will tell you as parent when your baby is hungry or full. By allowing your baby to establish and self regulate their eating habits teaches your baby how to recognize and respond according to feeling of hunger or being full.
We have established that a normal time for a baby to show interest in self-feeding would be between the ages of 6 to 9 months, but trust your instincts and spot the readiness signs as a parent. Finger food also has another advantage for your baby, called hand to mouth coordination. When choosing finger food make sure it is the healthy option. It is also important to take into consideration that the food you choose is soft and easily breakable, easy to swallow or melt in the mouth option. Introduce finger food one at a time starting with colours, textures and taste. As this is an experimental stage for your baby. Should your baby show initial dislike in certain types of food, give it a break for 3 weeks and then try it again, because baby’s taste changes frequently. By starting your baby on finger food also allows you as parent to create the perfect snack between meal times. This allows you as parent to manage portion control for when normal meal times arrive. This also prevents you the parent from facing the problem of baby not being hungry at meal times and disrupting his routine.
We had a look at everything regarding finger food. Now the question remains what type of finger food can one start to give to baby? In the fruit department, we can look at the following: Bananas, cooked apples and pear cubes, melon cubes, kiwi and avocados. Bananas and avocado’s are quite slippery food type, to make it easier on your baby, roll the banana or avocado in crushed baby cereal powder. This makes this type of food easier to hold and eat. The perfect veggie foods would be: sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, beetroot, broccoli, asparagus and peas.