Finger Food For A 9 Month Old


Finger Food For A 9 Month Old. Now it’s time to start thinking about the future! Your baby is now 9 months old, and he or she is probably starting to show signs of wanting to eat real solid food. It’s an exciting time for sure—and it’s also pretty scary too. You’ve gotten used to the simplicity of feeding your baby with a bottle, but now you’re looking at this whole new world of launching into finger foods. Where do you even begin? There are so many things out there that could be bad for your baby. How will you know what’s safe?


Finger Food For A 9 Month Old

When baby is around 9 months, you’ll notice that they’re able to pick up smaller pieces of food with two fingers. This is known as the “pincer grasp” and is a sign that they’re ready to start finger foods. To be clear, when I say “finger foods” I mean small pieces of food that a baby (or toddler) can feed themselves.

Here are some of my favorite ones to start with that are all super soft, safe to eat, and easy to pick up.

  • Scrambled egg, broken up into small pieces
  • Roasted sweet potato mashed and broken up into small pieces
  • Fresh raspberries, broken up into smaller pieces
  • Oatmeal, cooked according to package directions and allowed to cool
  • Tofu, diced and sauteed lightly or steamed
  • Ground beef, chicken, or turkey, broken up into small pieces or lightly mashed meatballs
  • Shredded cheese or crumbled goat cheese
  • Mashed sweet potato, in little pieces
  • Peanut butter puffs

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.

The Best Finger Foods for Baby

When it’s time for your baby to start solids, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests slowly introducing fruits, veggies, and meat one at a time to gauge their reaction. Here’s our list of safe finger foods to gradually introduce into your child’s diet.

Happy Baby Eating Spoon In High Chair

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Baby Cereal Puffs

Bowl of Cheerios

Baby cereal “puffs” or O-shaped cereal make a great first finger food for Baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests buying infant-specific cereals with the extra nutrients your little one needs.

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Half-peeled banana

Bananas have a sweet taste and soft texture that babies love. Cut bananas into small pieces so little ones won’t choke. You can also feed your child other soft, ripe foods when starting solids.

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Sweet Potato

mashed sweet potato

Babies naturally like sweeter veggies such as cooked, diced sweet potatoes. Steam or bake them instead of boiling to retain more nutrients.

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How to Start Solids


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Cut Open Avocado Halves Ripe

Avocados have a soft, velvety texture that make them an ideal first finger food for Baby. Cut the avocado into small cubes before serving.

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Chicken or Meat

Packaged Raw Ground Meat

To give your baby some protein, puree some soft chicken or meat. You can serve small chunks to babies 12 months and older.

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Peaches or Pears

Bucket of Peaches

Once your baby has mastered easy finger foods, you can move onto very ripe peaches or pears. Dice them before handing to your infant.

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Dice tofu into small squares, but remember not to force your baby to eat anything they don’t want to. Many experts suggest trying repeatedly; eventually your little one might be willing to venture a taste, which could expand their palette in the future.

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Whole-Grain Bread

Toasted white bread on plain background

Don’t forget to implement some whole grains into your baby’s diet! Take slices of whole-grain bread, cut them into cubes or strips, and get rid of those hard crusts. You can also toast the bread and top strips with peanut butter, hummus, or another spread.

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Quick Tip: Baby Food Storage




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From Buttered Pasta to Spaghetti with Sauce

Parents can start introducing pasta during a baby’s fifth or sixth month. Choose small noodles like spirals or macaroni, and make sure they’re well-cooked.

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Hard-Boiled Egg

How to Hard Boil an Egg

The AAP says eating eggs during early childhood may help reduce food allergies, so chop a hard-boiled egg into small pieces for your baby.

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Vegetable Casserole

Sweet Potato Tot Casserole in Baking Dish on Blue Towel

Has your baby mastered single-ingredient foods? Then move onto multi-ingredients options like vegetable casserole! Start with pasta and add marinara sauce and vegetables, such as chopped broccoli and asparagus.

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Other First Finger Foods

3 Finger Foods Perfect for BLW_STILL

Remember that you don’t have to stick with one or two options—there are a wide variety of finger foods for Baby! And since experts suggest that repeated exposures to flavors can help reduce picky eating later on, it’s good to include a range of naturally sweet, savory, and bitter flavors.

Here are more safe first finger foods to try. Just remember to avoid any hard foods that can snap and cannot be squished between your fingers.

  • Baby puffs
  • Baby rice crackers
  • Blueberries, very soft and halved
  • Beans, cooked until very soft
  • Broccoli, chopped and steamed
  • Butternut squash, cubed and steamed
  • Cauliflower, chopped and steamed
  • Fish, steamed or poached in broth or water without added salt, with bones removed, and flaked into small pieces. (Choose low-mercury options that are high in healthy fats like wild salmon, rainbow trout, or tilapia.)
  • Goat cheese, crumbled
  • Green beans, chopped and steamed
  • Ground beef, cooked without salt
  • Peas, cooked
  • Potatoes, cubed, tossed with olive oil, and roasted in a 400 degree F oven on a baking sheet for 22 to 25 minutes or until very soft
  • Potatoes, mashed
  • Rice, well-cooked, plain or mixed with shredded cheese to help it hold together
  • Shredded whole-milk cheese
  • Tomatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Yellow squash, cubed and steamed
  • Zucchini, cubed and steamed
  • Watermelon, cubed


Why offer your 6-12 month old finger foods?

Finger foods are small pieces of food that your baby can pick up and eat easily. Introducing finger foods early, soon after starting solids, helps your baby get used to different food textures, improves coordination and encourages self-feeding. These are important feeding skills.

Your baby is ready for finger foods when she grabs food and starts putting things in her mouth. If your baby is not taking foods with a lumpy texture and finger foods by 9 months, talk to your health care provider.

Steps You Can Take

  • Sit your baby in a high chair to eat. Whenever possible, sit down and eat at the same time. Never leave your baby alone while eating.
  • Babies can enjoy soft finger foods before they have teeth. They can mash foods into smaller pieces using their gums.
  • Mealtimes may be messy and slow at first. This is part of learning how to eat. As babies get older, they get better at putting food into their mouths. To reduce waste, start by giving your baby a small amount of food and offer more based on hunger cues.
  • Fruits should be peeled and cut into small pieces with the pits removed. Cook vegetables until they are soft, or grate hard raw vegetables.
  • Hard and sticky foods can cause choking and should be avoided. Do not give these foods to your child: whole nuts or seeds, globs of nut or seed butters, raisins, popcorn, ice cubes, chips, gum, marshmallows, hard candies or jellybeans. Cut round foods like carrots, grapes and hot dogs in 4 pieces lengthwise and then into small pieces.
  • Don’t use hard foods (like raw vegetable sticks) for teething. Your baby can break off a piece and choke.
  • Babies can eat many of the same foods as the rest of the family by the time they are 12 months old. Continue to cut food into small pieces and make sure it is moist. Prepare foods with little or no added sugar or salt.
  • Here are some safe finger food ideas from Canada’s Food Guide:

Grain Products: Cooked pasta – macaroni, rotini, penne; pieces of rice cakes; cereal like bran flakes or oat rings; Melba toast; pieces of roti or tortilla; cut up muffin; strips of toast with the crust removed (dry or with butter or margarine)

Vegetables and Fruit: Pieces of ripe fruit without peel or skin: Avocado, banana, peach, pear, kiwi, melon, or quartered grapes; soft cooked vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yam, or squash

Milk & Alternatives (offer once baby is taking a variety of iron-rich foods): Cheese slices; grated or small cubes of pasteurized cheese

Meat & Alternatives (well cooked): Tofu; ground meat or poultry; small (pea sized) pieces of tender meat or poultry; fish (de-boned and flaked); quartered meatball; pieces of egg; small beans (black beans, navy beans) or larger beans cut in half (kidney beans)

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