12 Healthy Finger Foods That Don't Come From a Box
Forget the mush! Surprise your baby with a new taste and texture by offering whole green peas. These can be steamed, boiled, or frozen to provide relief for teething gums. Green peas are too small to be a choking hazard; the worst that can happen is that they come out whole from the other end!
Steamed or Broiled Fish
Fish is a great healthy finger food because it's soft, easy to chew, and very nutritious. Coldwater options—such as salmon, trout, and halibut—also provide your baby with DHA, a fatty acid important for brain development in the first 24 months of life.
Prepare fish by broiling or steaming it (without salt if your baby is under 12 months) and cut it in small pieces or separate it into flakes.
Thick Cereal, Sticky Rice, and Mashed Potatoes
These unconventional options are easy (and fun!) for babies to palm. Protect your floor by placing a plastic mat under Baby's high chair, then allow her to dip her fingers in the mixture and grab the food in her fist. Remember, playing with food is an important developmental step, and it can even help children become more adventurous eaters.
Tender Chopped Meats
Meat provides iron, an important nutrient for babies (especially if you're breastfeeding, since formula is fortified with it). Babies can usually pick up small pieces of meat between 7 and 9 months.
Make sure the meat is cooked until very soft and cut it in small pieces. Ground meat in meatballs and burgers typically has a softer texture and may be easier for your baby to handle.
Once your baby has developed the pincer grasp, which allows him to pick up small objects, go for well-cooked beans. They make an ideal healthy finger food because of their mild taste and soft texture. Plus, beans are nutritional powerhouses full of protein, fiber, folic acid, and other nutrients.
Feel free to open a can, but make sure to purchase BPA-free ones or tetra packs. You should also rinse the beans to get rid of excessive sodium.
Steamed Carrot Sticks and Green Beans
Raw carrots and green beans should be off-limits until your baby has the ability to chew and swallow hard foods (typically after 12 months of age). Steamed veggies, however, are safe starting at about 7 to 8 months. They should be soft enough to squish between two fingers.
Frozen Yogurt Drops
To make delicious and probiotic-rich frozen yogurt drops, fill a zip-top bag with flavored or plain yogurt, snip off one of the corners, and squeeze drops of yogurt onto an oiled baking sheet or plate. Freeze the drops until solid, then store them in an airtight plastic bag or container in the freezer. Serve frozen for an easy snack or fun dessert.
Noodles or Pasta
Having pasta for dinner tonight? Invite your baby to join you at the table. Pasta and noodles are many babies' favorite foods because they're delicious and easy to handle. To prevent choking, make sure the pasta is well cooked and cut into small pieces.
Soft, Raw Fruit Like Watermelon and Peaches
Naturally soft fruits and vegetables don't have to be cooked for your baby to safely eat them. Wholesome choices like watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, and avocado can be cut into elongated pieces or small cubes to make it easy for babies as young as 6 months to grab. In any shape, they're nutritious and ultra-easy.
Eggs are an excellent source of iron, protein, and choline. The healthy finger food can also be prepared in numerous easy ways, such as a simple omelette or sliced hard-boiled eggs.
Babies can easily grab broccoli florets on a stalk with their palms. Cook the broccoli well before you offer it to your baby. The somewhat bitter taste of cruciferous vegetables may be challenging for sensitive palates, but don't give up—your little one might accept broccoli over time.
Cucumber strips may be difficult for Baby to bite before she grows teeth, but these healthy finger foods work wonders for soothing sore gums. To prevent choking, cut cucumbers into long and wide strips.