Chew On This: A Guide to Baby Finger Foods
Introducing your children to good eating habits and healthy snacks should always be about fun and exploration. Whether they're babies just starting on finger foods or toddlers and big kids who seem to snack all the time, we've got some delicious and kid-friendly ideas everyone can enjoy.
Around 9 months, your baby is likely to be sitting up unassisted and developing their pincer grasp. They've probably been on purees and cereals for a couple months, so it's natural when they start showing an interest in the foods you're eating too. Don't worry if they don't have many teeth: babies can still "chew" and mash soft foods with their gums. Just be sure to consult your pediatrician before starting any new foods.
- Soft proteins like hard-boiled eggs and cheese or fruits and vegetables (steamed until they're practically mush) can be cut up into ¼-inch bite-sized pieces. Coat slippery foods like banana or avocado with crushed up rice puffs or wheat germ to make them easier for little fingers to grasp.
- Squeezable puree pouches are minimal mess if your baby loves fruit and vegetable purees and wants to try to feed themselves. They're also an easy-to-pack snack when you're on the go.
- Rice puffs and yogurt melts are fun for babies to pick up and chew. They have a melt-in-your-mouth texture and are great for extra nutrients like vitamins, calcium, and even probiotics.
- Consider teething biscuits if your baby is cutting a tooth. They're similar to puffs in that they dissolve easily so there's minimal chewing required, but they'll help soothe itchy gums while providing a delicious distraction.
After 18 months, kids should have some of their molars and most of their teeth, which means they can chew food more thoroughly. Snack time becomes important in helping to boost nutrition and manage hunger in between mealtimes. Your kids can also gain a little independence by picking and preparing their own snacks as they get older.
- Big kids will love the crunch factor of raw fruits and vegetables like apples, celery, and even bell peppers (continue to cut them up into smaller pieces for the under-3 set). Incorporate dips like peanut butter, ranch dressing, yogurt, and even applesauce to expand their flavor profile.
- Cookies and crackers are always a favorite but avoid options with empty calories. Instead, look for ones made with organic fruits and veggies or enriched with fiber and essential vitamins.
- Fiber- and potassium-rich dried fruits are a great option for satisfying kids with a sweet tooth. Also look for fruit snacks that are made with a full serving of daily fruit.
- Granola and snack bars are often packed with protein and whole grain nutrition, which makes them a satisfying snack. They come in all flavors imaginable from mango strawberry to peanut butter pretzel so you can find something for everyone. And because they're individually packed, they can be easily thrown into a backpack, lunch bag, or purse.