The Ultimate Guide to Finger Food
6 min read
Finger foods are a great tool in any parent’s weaning toolbox!
Discover the power of finger foods in our guide, including some ideas for your little one.
The Importance of Finger Food for Babies
Finger food is a vital part of the weaning journey and is something every baby should experience.
Not only are finger foods another way of making sure your little one gets the nutritious variety they need when weaning, but the activity provides a range of other benefits, including:
- Teaches how to hold things in their hand.
- Practices chewing and biting food.
- Improves hand-eye coordination.
For some babies, finger foods can lead to increased enthusiasm for weaning and trying new foods. Finger foods can also help promote a sense of independence for your baby, which can help them grow.
Baby-Led Weaning Vs Traditional Weaning
While there’s a lot of weaning advice out there, the weaning journey is different for every baby, and there are various methods you can use to get your baby eating good food. Generally, these methods fall into one of these two categories.
Baby-led weaning (or BLW) is an approach that, as the name suggests, allows your baby to take the lead on what they eat. Often, this method is associated with a large proportion of finger foods that allow your baby to self-feed.
Traditional weaning, on the other hand, involves more feeding by the parent. This method is sometimes called spoon-led weaning, as there will be a larger proportion of spoon-feeding than in BLW.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to what method of weaning you choose. What’s more important is that your baby is getting the nutritious goodness they need from a wide range of sources.
Most real-world weaning methods by parents will be a combination of traditional and baby-led weaning. Some foods might be easier to spoon feed, whereas, for others, finger foods might be more effective.
Often, the best way is to find a balance that works best for your baby and also yourself, so weaning can always be fun and full of goodness!
When to Start Giving Your Baby Finger Food
When you start giving finger foods will depend on your baby, but it’s an option from the very start of weaning.
If your little one is of the weaning age and shows interest in holding food, you can give them soft finger foods from around six months - the recommended age for starting weaning.
On the other hand, some babies may not show the same level of interest in finger foods from the very beginning or might not have the hand-eye coordination needed at the start. That’s fine - finger foods can also be introduced a few months later in the weaning journey once they begin to show interest and develop their abilities.
The important thing is that finger foods should be introduced at some point during the weaning journey, preferably as early as possible. The reason for this is because finger foods teach them useful skills as they develop.
However, if it doesn’t happen straight away for your little one, don’t panic - simply start with spoon feeding and try to introduce finger foods over time.
Choosing the First Finger Foods for Your Baby
Like weaning on any solids, finger foods will develop with your baby as they learn to handle different foods.
At the beginning of the weaning journey, you should consider softer finger foods that are easy to hold and chew. While your baby might not have teeth, their gums are tough and will be able to chew through many soft fruits and veggies.
Some great first finger foods to try include:
- Avocado slices
- Steamed broccoli florets
- Banana slices
- Melon cubes
- Omelette strips
Finger foods need to be soft enough for little teeth and mouths and firm enough that they won’t fall apart when picked up. Also, make sure the food isn’t too smooth or slippery that it’s hard for them to hold - you could use a crinkle cutter to add grabbable grooves.
Remember that when giving finger foods, they need to be small enough for little hands! Making them around the size of your little finger or thumb is a good rule to follow if you’re unsure.
As with any stage of weaning, variety is essential, so try a range of finger foods.
Fun and Easy Baby Finger Food Ideas
The great thing about finger foods is that they are easy to make and come in so many varieties. There’s no end to the fun that you and your baby can have!
Serving colourful plates is a great way to get budding foodies excited about their mealtimes. Consider offering slices of multicoloured veggies, from red peppers to yellow courgettes and orange carrots, to make an exciting finger food adventure.
If you’re making a lot of finger foods, consider buying some small, fun-shaped cookie cutters. You can use these to slice through fruits, veggies or any other weaning foods to create fun and exciting shapes for your little one.
It’s also worth remembering that your little one looks up to you a lot, which also means the food you eat. Sharing finger foods with your little one at mealtimes will help keep them engaged with weaning and trying new foods.
Babease Top Tips for Finger Foods
Sometimes, parents can be worried that their baby isn’t eating as much when it comes to finger food. If you’re concerned, consider offering finger foods first and then spoon-feeding afterwards. That way, their finger foods can be all about trying new things, without the worry of whether they’re eating enough.
During your baby’s first tastes of finger foods, you can expect a lot of them to end up on the floor or mushed! Playing with food is important for babies as it’s their way of exploring the new world of food, so accept and enjoy messy mealtimes as a sign of growth.
Our Favourite Baby Finger Food Recipes
One of the best finger food recipes to consider is roasted vegetable sticks. This recipe is a staple that you can use throughout the weaning journey - simply cook them a little less so they retain their crunch as your little one moves onto firmer foods.
If you’re looking to share a treat with your budding foodie, these pumpkin pancakes are a great choice! Not only are they full of goodness, but they're light and fluffy, which makes them perfect for little hands and mouths!
Remember, we have many more baby weaning recipes in the recipes section!
We hope this guide has helped answer some of your questions when it comes to finger foods. If you are looking for more advice and ideas for the weaning journey, be sure to check out the rest of our blog!