13 Fun Finger Foods

For when your baby has a well-developed grasp

  • • Cheerios and other unsweetend cereals
  • • Crunchy toast
  • • Well-cooked pasta
  • • Bite-sized lumps of scrambled egg
  • • Chunks of banana
  • • Slices of ripe avocado
  • • Small, peeled chunks of ripe peach
  • • Shredded cooked chicken
  • • Cooked carrot slices
  • • Small cubes of tofu
  • • Cheese slices (but don't offer your baby soft, aged, or unpasteurized varieties)
  • • Cooked green peas
  • • Melt-in-the-mouth snacks

Essentials for Your Independent Eater

When your baby's around 8 or 9 months old, he'll have the dexterity to hold on to a spoon. How you'll know? He'll keep grabbing the one you keep floating toward his mouth. (For your own sanity, give him one to play with while you feed him.) When he's pushing a year, he'll be able to use it to scoop up some food from a bowl and maneuver it into his mouth by himself. This trick will deserve much applause--and a few essential items to make self-feeding as easy as possible:

HIGH CHAIR
If your baby's been taking his meals in his infant seat or stroller, it's high time he got a throne of his own. High chairs feature all sorts of extras (removable trays, toy bars, cup holders), but at the very least look for one that 1) can be adjusted for height; 2) has wheels; 3) has a washable/wipe-able seat pad; and 4) has a 3-point seatbelt. Want something a bit less conventional? Consider a chair that you can push right up to the table. These tend to have an ultra-modern design aesthetic (think solid wood, simple lines), but most convert to a booster seat, then to a chair for an older child, so if you like the look, you'll enjoy it for years to come. Most are designed for babies 6 months old and up.
TODDLER UTENSILS
Best bets for fledgling self-feeders: short, fat, textured handles, (so your tyke can really get a grip); a small bowl that's not too shallow (so any food he scoops up will stay put during the trip from dish to mouth); bright colors, cute design (so he'll want to use the thing).
TABLEWARE
You probably don't need us to tell you that any dish you plan to serve your baby's meals in should be unbreakable. Other key features: suction cups on the bottoms to prevent bowls of pasta from skidding across the high chair tray and showering down on the dog; high, steep rims (even on plates) to make for easier scooping with a spoon; divided sections--so, heaven forbid, the peas don't touch the potatoes.
FLOOR COVERING
In the event you don't have a pooch who'll clean up whatever your baby drops, consider investing in a splat mat--a plastic sheet that you can spread under the high chair--or repurposing an old shower curtain. Whatever you use should be extend a good 6 to 12 inches from all sides of the chair: Not every food will fall straight down.
JARRED FOODS
The same companies that bring you jarred first foods also offer chunkier meals for older babies. These are great for when you're on the go; don't have time to mash and cut up what you're having for dinner into small enough piece; or what's on the menu simply isn't safe or healthy for little kids. Look for "junior," "stage 3" or similar on the label.
FUN FINGER FOODS
The only other thing you'll need while you're baby's mastering her table "manners" is a healthy dose of patience. It'll take time, and it'll be messy. If you can go with the flow, you and your child will have happy meals.
Before he can eat with a spoon (and even after he's able to), your baby will love feeding himself with his hands. (He'll be able to do this when his pincer-grasp is well-developed--at around 9 months.) Just spread a few tidbits directly on his (clean) high chair tray, and let him go to town. Some great finger foods for babies are:
  • Cheerios and other unsweetend cereals
  • Crunchy toast
  • Well-cooked pasta
  • Bite-sized lumps of scrambled egg
  • Chunks of banana
  • Slices of ripe avocado
  • Small, peeled chunks of ripe peach
  • Shredded cooked chicken
  • Cooked carrot slices
  • Small cubes of tofu
  • Cheese slices (but don't offer your baby soft, aged, or unpasteurized varieties)
  • Cooked green peas
  • Melt-in-the-mouth snacks