Finger Food For A 8 Month Old

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Introducing babies to finger foods around 8 months is an excellent way to get them started on solids, and is a great way to prepare them for more solid foods later on. So when should you start introducing your baby to finger foods? What kind of foods are safe? And how do you make sure they don’t end up covered in salsa? While the phrase “finger foods” may bring to mind images of a messy, salsa-covered toddler, but believe it or not, finger foods can be an important part of a baby’s diet.

Finger Food For A 8 Month Old

photo of banana and yogurt

Once your baby is a pro at eating soft mashed foods, they may be ready to move on to finger foods around 8 months. They have the dexterity to pick the food up and release it or mash it, and will become more efficient and independent as they master the pincer grip around 9 months. At that point they’ll be able to use their thumb and forefinger to pick up the small chunks of food.

Your baby may grab at everything on your plate, but follow these guidelines for healthy and safe feedings.

  • Start with menu items like pieces of soft cheese; small pieces of pasta or bread; finely chopped soft vegetables; and fruits like bananas, avocado, and ripe peaches or nectarines. These foods should require minimal chewing, as your baby may not yet have teeth. Do NOT let them have hot dogs, raw vegetables, nuts, meats, hard candy, or sticky textures such as nut butters that have increased choking risks at this stage.
  • Introduce new foods one at a time in case there are any concers about allergies.
  • Chop all foods into soft, bite-sized pieces, 1/2 inch or smaller.
  • Watch out for choking hazards: Avoid round, firm foods like carrots, grapes, and hot dogs and skip anything like raw veggies and peanuts. Raisins and popcorn are dangerous for babies.
  • Keep up your formula or breastfeeding schedule, but as your baby eats more solids, they’ll naturally start to take less milk. Your baby needs to start eating more solids and drinking less milk for the nutritional value at this stage.

Your Baby’s Development This Week

Your baby is getting stronger and may even be moving around, whether they are sliding around on their belly in reverse, scooting on their behind, or actually crawling forward. If you haven’t childproofed your house already, don’t wait any longer!

You may notice these growing signs of motor development:

  • Your baby is probably now able to sit on their own for several minutes, without using their hands for support and they may be able to get up into a sitting position all by themselves.
  • While you offer them support, they should be able to bounce up and down, and possibly even pull up to a stand.
  • Their little hands are increasingly agile — they are getting better at passing a toy back and forth from one to the other.

You might wonder about:

  • Their vision. Your baby should be able to see nearly as far as an adult by now and can track moving objects with their eyes.
  • Stranger anxiety. You’re not imagining it: They may fear new people and situations. So give them time to warm up and reassure them if they are upset.
  • What they can understand. Your baby might comprehend more than you realize, so it’s important to keep talking to them about everything you’re doing and try to be consistent about the words you use for familiar objects.

Month 8 Week 3 Tips

tips

  • If food allergies run in the family, talk to your pediatrician about introducing highly allergenic foods like peanuts and eggs.
  • Fried foods are not good choices for babies. If you offer them at all, do so rarely.
  • Avoid feeding your baby juice unless it is fresh-squeezed.
  • By now, your baby’s diet should include grains, fruits, vegetables, and meats, and they should be eating two to three meals a day.
  • In addition to rice, barley, or oat cereal, you can introduce grain products your baby can grab, such as toast, crackers, and dry cereal. Avoid any colorful, sugary cereals.
  • Sit baby in their high-chair for feeding time. If they eat finger foods while crawling around, they are more likely to choke.
  • You’re not done with breast feeding or bottle feeding. Your baby is starting the transition, but breast milk and formula are still key.
  • Pureeing or mashing vegetables may make them easier for your baby to eat when they are first transitioning from a liquid diet to solids.

The Best Finger Foods for Baby

There’s no hard and fast rule in terms of when babies can start eating finger foods, says William Dietz, MD, PhD, director of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and co-editor of the American Pediatric Association’s (AAP) Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know. Rather than focusing on baby’s age, says Dietz, “the first indicator you should look for is that the baby is interested.” So how can you tell when baby’s interest is piqued? Reaching for the food as you’re feeding her, grabbing the bowl or spoon, putting the spoon in her mouth and fussing when she sees you eat (because she wants in!) are all signs your child may be ready. “Babies generally want to feed themselves,” Dietz says. “That’s a normal drive.”

Being able to sit independently is another good clue that babies are physically ready to try finger foods, says Susan M. McCormack, MA, senior speech language pathologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a board-certified specialist in swallowing and swallowing disorders. If they can sit up in the high chair, then they might be ready to try their hand at finger foods.

Some guides suggest waiting to introduce baby finger foods until your child has mastered a pincer grasp—the ability to pick up small objects between the thumb and forefinger—but Dietz says this isn’t totally necessary. “Initially when children start to feed themselves, they don’t have a pincer grasp,” he says. “So they’re using their whole hand and putting their hand in their mouth. And that’s fine.”

If you’re waiting for your infant to sprout teeth before moving on from purees, think again. “Babies don’t need teeth to learn to eat solids and learn to chew,” McCormack says. Those strong little gums are perfectly capable of mashing up soft solids—if you’ve ever let baby teethe on your finger, then you have some idea of just how powerful they are!

Baby Finger Food Safety

When choosing the best finger foods for baby—whether you’re starting at 6 months or 9 months—experts agree that it’s best to begin with small pieces of soft food that dissolve easily.

As your infant grows and becomes comfortable eating finger foods, you can branch out, McCormack says. “As a baby develops better tongue patterns to control food pieces as well as more mature chewing, he can better ‘chew’ the foods that break apart, like pieces of fruits and vegetables. A one-year-old can also bite off pieces of food that a 6-month-old can’t.”

Avoid giving baby finger foods that are large, sticky or don’t dissolve easily, because they’re potential choking hazards, Dietz warns. He suggests steering clear of foods like hot dogs, carrots, nuts, grapes, popcorn, candy and globs of peanut butter.

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re picking out the best finger foods for babies is that a lot of adult foods—particularly snacks—can be super salty. “Often parents will doctor a food so it appeals to their tastes, and their taste may have bigger amounts of sodium than a baby’s taste,” Dietz says. When preparing food for baby, leave out the salt whenever possible. (You can always add it separately to your portion if you’re cooking for the family).

How to Introduce New Finger Foods for Baby

When babies first start on finger foods, breast milk and formula will still be their main source of nutrition, followed by purees. You should continue to spoon-feed your child initially, “but during the feeding process, they should also be allowed to feed themselves,” Dietz says. Put some finger food on her high-chair tray and let her try to get it into her mouth in between the spoonfuls of food you’re feeding her. If she gets really frustrated, go ahead and help her out.

Most important, follow your child’s cues and “let your baby be the guide,” McCormack says. If he doesn’t respond positively, take a step back and try again later. But keep in mind that babies often crinkle up their faces when they try something new, which can look like they don’t like something, Dietz says. It can take up to 20 times before they’re used to certain foods. “Parents shouldn’t force food, but they should be persistent in offering,” Dietz says.

McCormack also suggests easing into finger foods by offering thicker purees with a bit of texture to them. “Try alternating bites of the smooth puree with a slightly thicker or mashed food to help your baby get used to the new textures in her mouth,” she says.

Remember, too, that this is a messy process. Parents might want to lay newspaper or an easy-to-clean vinyl tablecloth on the floor, since it’ll be a while (like, years) before your kid manages to get more food in his mouth than on the floor, Dietz advises.

Finally, never leave baby unattended while she’s eating, and keep an eye out for signs of choking. It may be tempting to hold off on introducing finger foods until your child is older, but helping baby develop this skill has multiple benefits, McCormack says, including “development of independence, fine motor skills and self-feeding skills, as well as development of oral patterns to support texture progression.” Whether you start baby finger foods at 6 or 9 months, just follow baby’s lead and let him have fun with it.

If you’re looking for baby finger food ideas, think about options that are soft, small and easily gummed. Here are a few of the best finger foods for baby to get started—including finger foods for baby with no teeth! While the same finger foods are as appropriate for a 6-month-old as they are for a one-year-old baby, you can begin to offer slightly larger pieces that they can bite off themselves as they become more confident. Stick with these healthy options, and you’ll start baby off on the right path for healthy eating.

1. Puffs and dry cereal. Puffs and O-shaped dry cereal are some of the most popular first finger foods for good reason: They let baby practice the pincer grasp by picking up one at a time. And as McCormack explains, they also “mix well with saliva and are easy for the infant to manage in their mouth without choking.”

2. Teething biscuits and lightly toasted bread. Teething biscuits and small pieces of lightly toasted bread are another great starter finger food, since they soften quickly. Just note that some breads can turn gummy and stick in baby’s mouth; lightly toast the bread and cut into very small pieces to avoid a choking hazard. As baby gets older (around 9 to 12 months), you can offer slightly larger pieces or serve bread topped with mashed banana or avocado, or a super-thin layer of hummus or peanut butter.

3. Scrambled eggs. Doctors used to advise waiting to introduce eggs, but the AAP now recommends early exposure to potentially allergenic foods. Which is great news, since scrambled eggs are an ideal early finger food! Keep your love of runny yolks to yourself for now, however, and cook those eggs thoroughly, cut into small pieces and avoid adding salt.

4. Soft fruit. Very ripe fruit is naturally soft, making them some of the best finger foods for babies. Ripe banana, peach, watermelon, raspberries, blueberries and cantaloupe cut into small pieces are all great finger food options.

5. Avocado. A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids—which can help boost baby’s brain development—avocados are, like puffs, often one the first baby finger foods, even when your little one has no teeth. Be warned: Avocado can get messy fast, but it’s well worth it (and can result in some hilarious pics for the baby album).

6. Pasta. Though recipes often recommend cooking pasta al dente, when it comes to feeding baby, you’ll want to slightly overcook it so it’s nice and soft. To start, try small pasta shapes like orzo or mini shells, or cut up fusilli or penne. Initially serve it plain, but as baby is introduced to more foods you can toss the pasta in a little butter, olive oil or low-sodium tomato sauce.

7. Tofu. Whether cooked or uncooked, tofu is a wonderful plant-based source of protein and a perfect finger food for babies. Opt for firm tofu, which is still quite soft, as opposed to soft or silken tofu, which will likely fall apart in baby’s hand and frustrate her.

8. Cooked vegetables. Though it will be a while before baby can hit the crudités platter, cooked vegetables make excellent baby finger foods. To get the most nutrients out of your vegetables, steam or roast them until soft, and, of course, cut them into small pieces. Try sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower or beets (opt for yellow beets for less mess) to start. As baby gets bigger, you can offer steamed carrot sticks or peeled, roasted sweet potato wedges.

Finger foods: Your baby 6- and 9-months guide

When you’re thinking of introducing finger foods, have a read of our handy guide

Finger foods for 6 and 9 months 474

NHS and evidence suggests that you follow a mixed approach to weaning offering both mashed foods and finger foods. 

You can offer some finger foods at each meal from very early on in the weaning process so that your baby can touch and explore with foods.

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At first your baby might not be able to chew and swallow the finger foods you give them, indeed they may literally only touch and play with these finger foods at first, but they’ll soon learn to lick, taste and eventually eat some.  

Eating soft finger foods helps your baby to recognise different foods by sight and in time, your baby will associate the foods with their smell and taste. Finger foods also help your baby to develop their own self-feeding skills.

At around six months you’ll want to stick to soft fingers foods which are easy for gummy babies to chew on.

Suggestions for soft finger foods suitable from six months:

  • Soft roasted, steamed or boiled vegetable sticks (soft enough to be mashed a little between finger and thumb).  E.g. sticks of carrot, parsnip, courgette, butternut squash, pepper, potato, sweet potato and small florets of broccoli and cauliflower
  • Soft pieces of fruit e.g. banana, soft ripe pear, peaches, melon, mango and kiwi
  • Cooked pasta pieces or spaghetti
  • Soft toast crusts – watch they don’t cram in too much toast as it can stick the roof of the mouth
  • Soft cheese sticks or grated cheese
  • Pieces of cooked fish or fish & potato cake – check for salt content in ready-made fishcakes and always check fish for bones

Firmer Finger foods – from 9 months:

You can offer firmer finger foods from around nine months and by 12 months many babies can chew, swallow and self-feed a range of these foods by the time they are a year old:

  • Raw vegetable sticks of cucumber and peppers cut very thin  
  • Apples, pieces of strawberry and ripe plums or apricots and segments of oranges, satsumas and clementines
  • Quartered grapes, cherries (stones removed) and halved cherry tomatoes
  • Breadsticks, rice cakes and crackers
  • Pitta bread strips – with peanut butter or hummus
  • Sandwiches with soft fillings
  • Cheddar cheese cut into sticks or cubes
  • Low sugar/salt breakfast cereal shapes and puffs
  • Chopped hardboiled egg
  • Very, slow cooked soft pieces of meat and pieces of meatballs, burger, chicken, falafel and bhaji 

Your baby might take time to get to grips with these tastes and different textures but keep offering a variety of the above from around 9 months onwards.

What should I know about teaching my baby to feed themself?

  • Signs your baby is ready to self-feed
  • Ideas for first finger foods
  • Tips for introducing spoons and cups to your baby

As your baby becomes more experienced with eating, you may notice them becoming more interested in feeding themself. This transition to self-feeding usually starts between 7 and 9 months.

Signs your baby is ready to self-feed include:

  • Grabbing the spoon while you are holding it
  • Reaching for food from their (or your!) plate
  • Even grabbing other objects, like toys, and bringing them to their mouth

Once your baby starts showing an interest in feeding themself, it’s important to provide many opportunities for them to practice this skill. The key to mastering self-feeding is to let your baby try and try again.

How to start teaching your baby to self-feed with finger foods

A good way to start is placing a few small pieces of food on your baby’s highchair tray. Let your baby feel it. It may seem as if baby is just playing with the food, but touching and playing is a step in their learning process.

Initially, your baby may grab for the food with a raking motion, using the entire fist to move the food toward their mouth. Eventually, your little one will develop the fine motor skill of grasping food with their thumb and forefinger, called the pincer grasp.

When to practice self-feeding

You can go about practicing self-feeding in many ways. First, try setting aside time at the beginning of the meal for practice. Since baby is hungrier at the start, this may help in motivating your little one to bring the food to their mouth themself.

Another way to try is to simply leave several pieces of food on baby’s tray to play and practice with while you alternate with spoon feeding. Allow your little one to try and put food in their mouth, then practice chewing and swallowing. Be sure that baby’s mouth is clear of food before offering anything from the spoon.

If your baby gets frustrated, allow them to finish the meal and eat how they normally would (such as with spoon feeding). Just remember to keep trying at other meals throughout the day (and every day).

First finger foods

The foods you give your baby to practice self-feeding should be soft, easily ‘smushed’ between your fingers, and cut into small pieces.

Here are some ideas for first finger foods:

  • Small pieces of ripe, soft bananas, avocados, peaches, mango, kiwi
  • Soft cooked sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, butternut squash, turnips
  • Grated or soft cooked (skinless) apples and pears
  • Soft cooked whole grain pasta
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Cubes, strings, or small pea-sized pieces of cheese
  • Shreds or small diced pieces of cooked chicken, fish, or turkey

Foods that pose a risk of choking should be avoided. Examples include nuts, whole grapes, hot dogs, raw carrots, raisins, popcorn, and portions of food that are too large. Also note that honey should not be given to infants before the age of 1 year.

Time to practice with spoons and cups

Learning how to use spoons and cups not only involves demonstrating how to use each one, but also allowing your baby lots of practice both with your help and without. Let your little one get messy as they step into their independence with eating and drinking!

Teaching your baby to use a spoon

After your baby masters self-feeding with their hands, the next step is offering utensils. Most children become good at using spoons and forks to self-feed between 15 to 18 months, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until then to start exposing them to utensils.

Just as your baby needed a lot of practice eating with their hands, they will also need many opportunities to attempt eating with utensils. A good way to begin encouraging this transition is to give them their own baby or toddler-friendly spoon or fork.

Teaching your baby to use a cup

Learning to drink from a cup can also begin around this time. Use an open, sippy, or straw cup and allow your little one to practice with a small amount of water. Since formula and/or breastmilk will still provide a large amount of nutrition and all of the hydration for your little one at this age, only about 4 to 8 ounces of water total spread through the day are recommended.

Letting your baby drink water from a cup on their own will not only build their fine motor skills (which may include lots of spills!), but will also help them form the important habit of drinking water.

Which foods to use when practicing using a spoon

Thicker foods like oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes, or yogurt blended with fruit are good practice foods since they will more easily stick to the utensil. It will be messy for a while but just remember that practice makes progress.

Once your baby has gotten the hang of dipping the utensil into the food and bringing it to their mouth, consider giving baby their own small bowl. There are some bowls with suction cups on the bottom and some that are attached to a mat – these may help prevent too many spills.

Let your baby to feed themself from their bowl while still feeding them from yours. Soon enough they’ll be eating a full meal without your help!

Remember, it is a learning process; it will take quite a while before your little one is neatly and skillfully feeding themself. In the meantime, have fun and be prepared to get messy!

Tips for teaching your baby to feed themself 

Supervise your baby during meals 

It’s important to monitor your baby as they begin to eat more independently. Your baby is not only getting used to a new way of eating, but new textures too. Remaining by your baby during meals will allow you to monitor their tolerance for new textures and the amounts they are putting into their mouth.

Know the difference between gagging and choking

Gagging is the body’s natural defense against choking and is very common when babies start eating solid foods. Gagging may occur if the baby has too much food in their mouth or if the food moves towards the back of the mouth before they have chewed it sufficiently. While your baby may look scared and be making gagging noises, baby’s airway is not blocked. The gag reflex helps baby move the food back toward the front of the mouth so they may chew it more before swallowing.

Choking is when a piece of food becomes lodged in the airways causing baby to stop breathing. Your baby will be silent and perhaps flailing their arms. Choking is life threatening and requires immediate attention.

Expect and embrace the mess

Teaching your baby to feed themself will be messy. Invest in a few good bibs or apron type smocks that can better catch the food. Consider placing an old towel underneath the highchair if you are concerned with food falling on the floor. Keep a damp washcloth or paper towel by your side to help with spills.

Enjoy family meals

Babies learn from you! If your baby is eating meals with the rest of the family, they will observe how everyone else is using their utensils to feed themselves, eating healthy foods, as well as other appropriate mealtime behaviors.

Be patient

Learning to self-feed takes time. Allow plenty of time for meals and never rush your baby to finish. Your little one is eating at the pace they are most comfortable with, allowing them to boost their learning.

Let’s Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

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