Friday, December 28, 2007

Finger Foods

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I have to say that eating finger foods is one of my favorite milestones. The baby can eat food while you eat your meals. You can give finger foods when you go out to eat. Offer little snacks at church to get the baby through the service...love it!

I was ridiculously cautious with Brayden eating foods and am the same with Kaitlyn. I don't think there is anything wrong with caution--we don't want our babies choking!

Signs of Readiness for Finger Foods

  • Baby can "chew"
  • Around age 7-8 months
  • A desire
First Finger FoodsWith both of my kids, I started with Gerber rice puffs. They dissolve really fast, and it takes 80 pieces to get 25 calories, so they aren't a snack that are going to interfere with eating foods they need. I do that until I can see they are able to chew and swallow. I am pretty slow in introducing new foods. I don't have any set rule, I just do it as the thought occurs to me.

Kaitlyn really likes biter biscuits. They were great for her to learn to get the food in her mouth since they are big. Brayden never really loved those. Kaitlyn also likes toast. Both like/liked the Gerber Wagon Wheels. Peas are an early finger food also.

Other foods I do are ideas I got from What to Expect the First Year. Pieces of whole wheat bagel, whole grain breads, crackers that get mushy in the mouth, cheerios, natural cheeses (pasteurized), ripe banana or other fruits that are very ripe, cooked veggies, pasta...If you have that book, the info is found on pages 387-388. Incidentally, I really like that book.
Teaching Them to Eat Finger Foods
The best option is to give them the food and let them figure it out. I would give them food that is safe, but also big enough they can pick it up and get it in their mouths. Help them be successful. For a 7 month old, the Gerber Rice Puffs are likely too small to get in their mouths by themselves. You can feed rice puffs yourself to gauge the chewing ability.
Brayden had no problems feeding himself finger foods at 7 months old, even the small rice puffs. Kaitlyn could pick the rice puffs up, but wouldn't put them in her mouth. She needed a bigger item to show her that she could do it herself, then she immediately was able to get the rice puffs in her mouth alone.

Honestly, I get giddy about finger foods!
Reader Comments:
  • John and Amanda said...
    Thanks for the great ideas for finger foods! So far I've only introduced the Gerber Puffs and these great cookies that dissolve easily. A friend told me about them. They are Goya cookies (found on the Mexican food aisle). They are called "Maria" cookies... Caden loves them and they are much cheaper than the Gerber cookies.... :) Now, off to see what I have in my pantry that I can try and introduce today! Thanks for the ideas!
    February 27, 2008 6:06 PM

38 comments:

Tim and Jamie Edwards said...

My son all of a sudden at 8 months quit eating mushy baby food. He just simply refused. Previously he ate about a 1/4 cup of food I prepared 3 times a day. 1 fruit for bf (banana, apple, pear) 1 veggie for lunch (sweet potato, avocado, squash) and a grain mixed with one of the above for dinner. He loved it, but at 8 months he wanted more. I started him on finger foods. The problem is he just got his front 2 teeth and eats each bite so slowly. He is done eating before I think he has truly had enough. He will be 9 months old on Sept 30th and I just don't feel like he is getting enough food now. I live in Thailand so buying pre-packaged finger foods like gerber cookies is not an option and I don't want him to fill up on breads. Do you have any suggestions?
Jamie
www.thegocenter.com/preston

srwe14 said...

I have a question about my daughter drinking juice and other stuff. She is 10 1/2 months old, and her sister Ryleigh had no problem drinking out of a juice cup, and Addalyn just now got the hang of it, but doesn't drink much. She is breastfed, and isn't very interested in that either, so I don't feel like she is getting enough liquids during the day. Are there other things that I can try as far as drinks go, like soy milk or something?

Plowmanators said...

Jamie, I am sorry I didn't see your question until now! Are you still having trouble?

Plowmanators said...

srwe14, I wouldn't worry about juice. Neither of my children have ever liked juice and are just fine to this day. I wouldn't count juice toward liquid of the day. It might be that your daughter is just really fast at BFing now. My daughter took about 4 minutes total at that age to nurse--that is both sides. It is no surprise because she can down 10 ounces of milk from a sippy in less than a minute. She is just a fast drinker. I don't know about soy milk; I would ask your pedi about that.

Jesskarabow said...

I noticed in another bog that Kaitlyn didn't get teeth until much later. Kara is almost 9 months, and just a couple days ago, had her first tooth poke through. What kinds of finger foods can they eat with no teeth? I'm paranoid about choking, but Kara has been showing much more interest in our food than "her food" for about 6 weeks now. She eats ouffs, and just started giving her toast. I would like some fruits and veggies, but don't know how to prepare them for her to eat them well. (BTW banas are out - she throws up everytime she eats them - bummer)

Plowmanators said...

You would be surprised at how much they can eat just "gumming" food. Kaitlyn is 21 months old, and just a couple of weeks ago got a molar on top and bottom on one side so she can actually chew food on one side of her mouth. She has been eating nothing but real food since last April and has done well.

The summer time is an easy time for fruits since so much is in season and it is soft. Strawberries, melons, etc. Winter is harder. You can do ripe pears--just cut them up small. Frozen peas are easy to eat. Many moms feed them frozen, but you can also cook them. You can cook carrots to really soft. Frozen carrots don't seem to do well. Kaitlyn ate raw broccoli.

Basically, most veggies need to be cooked to be soft enough to gum. Most fruits are fine as they are, but things like apples are too hard. You can buy natural applesauce with no sugar added, though. Take it slowly to see how good she is at it and give her practice.

Natalie said...

My 7 month old loves plain rice cakes, she chews on them while we eat our dinner!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Natalie!

melissa said...

I too love finger foods, but am wondering if and when use can become a crutch. My son is 11 months old. I use finger foods when we are out to eat to get us through the meal no problem. They keep him occupied and quiet for quite a while. My question stems from the fact that we've been doing a bit of car traveling recently, and he can only sleep about 45 minutes in the carseat, and when he wakes up, he is quite upset - and will stay that way for up to an hour. If I give him a wagon wheel or piece of toast, however, he can get himself calmed down and ultimately back to his normal happy mood. What do you think about this practice? I'm concerned I may be setting myself up to need food to calm him down. Its the only scenario where I've used food for this purpose - when I'm home and in our normal schedule, I wouldn't give him food to settle him but would find another way. But I suppose I can see other situations arise in the future - tantrums in the stroller while shopping when he is older, etc. - where he might start expecting food when he gets upset. You might have a post on this already... thanks!

melissa said...

Hi there, didn't know if you saw my previous comment? I know you are busy these days!!! As an aside, is there a way to get email notification of comments? I thought I used to get those, but am no longer. But I get email notifications of your posts.

Jennifer said...

Melissa, when you leave a comment, you can check the box that says "Email followup comments to..." and you will be notified whenever someone leaves a comment on that post. If you want to be notified of all comments on this blog, you can subscribe using the buttons on the right hand side of the blog, towards the top. I think you have to use an RSS Feed reader (such as Google Reader) though.

Plowmanators said...

Melissa,

I think that is fine since it is not always your practice. I did that a lot with Brayden, also. He doesn't eat food in the car currently. You can change practices as needed. I think it is wise to watch it and be mindful of it so you don't start to overuse or abuse it, but it sounds like you are already on a good track.

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you :)

Jennifer was correct about the comments. Thanks Jennifer as always!

grace said...

hi Valerie,
my baby is 9mths. recently she spouted the 2 top teeth (in addition to her bottom 2) and ever since, she has refused me to feed her. after a while, i figured she wanted to self-feed.

she has been eating her rusks ok but she can't manage her spoon. she gets (almost) nothing (cereal + puree/steamed potatoes) into her mouth and food ALL OVER (herself and chair and floor).

this isn't how i expect/envision self-feeding. as much as i want to give her a chance to learn, but
1. she needs to get her nutrition
2. learn table manners.

please help (before it becomes a bad habit and i have to re-train) :(

thanks!!

Plowmanators said...

grace, At 9 months, self-feeding doesn't involve a spoon :) You want to give her foods she can use her hands for. The spoon won't really be something she can do semi-well until around 14ish months.

Erin said...

Thank you so much for helping us newbie moms out! My 10 month old got her first teeth over a month ago and has since refused the spoon as well. She is able to pick up most finger foods pretty well, but will only put Cheerios, Puffs or other "crunchy" type things in her mouth. She's perfectly happy digging into any type of mashed baby food...as long as it has Cheerios sprinkled on top for her to grab. She used to be a fantastic eater. This is driving me nuts! This "phase" has gone on well over a month and I'm starting to have visions of my child surviving on Cheerios for the rest of her life. :P Help! Should I just continue to give in to her crunchy cravings or should I put them away and only offer her a variety of different finger foods? (Tried that already though...she just screams and doesn't eat.) I feel like a push-over!

Plowmanators said...

Erin, I would start each meal with you giving her some baby food. Get what you can in. Then offer finger foods you want her to eat. End with Cheerios...I wouldn't continue giving in to it. It only gets harder when they are two :)

Ember said...

My daughter is 8 1/2 months old and is easily able to feed herself. However, the only thing that she will actually swallow is Cheerios. I have also given her pieces of banana and sweet potato (which are 2 of her absolute favorite purees) and she spits them out like they're poison. I feel like I'm wasting a lot of food trying and trying to get her to eat finger foods. Any suggestions?

Plowmanators said...

Ember, it might be a texture thing. Some people are sensitive to textures. I tried having McKenna eat cut up bananas last night and she wasn't really able to even keep them in her mouth...they kept slipping out!

I would just keep giving her things she likes as well as things she doesn't and wait for her to change her mind. When you try a banana, just do it at a time when you are ready to eat a banana too :) Save what you can and eat the rest yourself.

Laura said...

My son is 10 1/2 months old and we are struggling with finger foods. I introduced them when he was 8 months old. and we've practiced almost every day since. when he got around to putting them in his mouth he did the normal yucky face and spit everything out. when he started to keep something in his mouth, he would choke (didn't matter what it was. cheerios, puffs, apple wheel thingy). now he won't put any food in his mouth at all. if i hold something up to his mouth, he'll open up and let me put it in. but if i set it down in front of him he just throws it down. so i tell him "that's a no" and do a little hand squeeze. we do this a few times. then he gets mad and doesn't even want me to put things in his mouth anymore. i've tried guiding his hand to his mouth. but he resists.
the weird thing is, i know he can put food in his mouth! he used to do it. i guess my question is where should i go from here? do i just keep placing the food in front of him even if he throws it down in hopes that he might put it in his mouth? or should i keep feeding him even if it's just a couple of bites?
he has no interest in our food at family meal times. it took him a long time to like any of the pureed foods (which he now eats like a champ). so maybe this will be a long process again.
thank you so much for your blog and your willingness to help us new moms out!!!
Laura

Plowmanators said...

Laura, I would say to just hold off until he starts to show an interest. Since he is eating purees fine, there is no need to force him (or, rather, try to force him) to eat finger foods. He will want to someday :)

Laura said...

Well, that makes me feel a million times better! Thank you, I will do that!

Laura said...

I just read all of these previous comments. We REALLY identify with the last one from Laura (I am a Laura too). Our son just turned 1. He doesn't really have an interest in the food we are eating. He gets excited when I give him some of his finger foods, but then he usually doesn't even put them to his mouth. Even if he does, he doesn't eat them. Do you think we should still just hold off, without forcing? (A little background: He had a feeding tube through his nose from 2-4 months old.) He eats his purees just fine, but doesn't like anything that is kind of lumpy.

Also, we cannot get him to drink from a cup. We have given it to him off and on for several months. When he has it by himself, he just bites on the spout, bangs, it, etc. When we sit with him and put the cup in his mouth, he CRIES! He has gotten some milk out, so he knows there is milk in there. He LOVES his bottle, so it's not an issue with the milk. I feel we are really at the point where this has to be forced since he's not supposed to be on a bottle for much longer. When I had to switch from breastfeeding to a bottle, we had the same trouble. He HATED the bottle!

Thank-you for your help!
Laura D

Laura said...

0

Laura said...

If it's okay, I just thought I would say something to Laura who posted on 3/3/10. :) Have you tried a cup that has a straw top instead of the traditional sippy cup? My little guy won't take one drink out of a sippy cup. He just plays with it. One day we were at a friends house, and there was another little boy there who had a cup with a straw. He gave it to my son (of course this was while we happened to not be looking)and when I turned around, my son was drinking from the cup! so I went out and found a "sippy" cup with a straw top and now we are good to go. Just a thought.

Plowmanators said...

Laura, I woudl just take the feeding him slowly at at his pace right now. Brayden ate purees until 14 or 15 months or so. Offer the food, but let him take it at his pace right now.

With the sippy, see the post "Weaning from breast, bottle..." The straw is a good idea too! And see the blog label "sippy cup"

Lonnie and Aymee said...

Hi: thank you for the blog, it is so useful to us moms! I have a question on finger foods. We have been practicing for a couple of months now to give baby food to our son (8 months old now) and teaching him not to touch the plate or the spoon or play with the food. Basically the instruction is to keep his hands down and eat. He sometimes is good at it, other times we have keep putting his hand down. Is there a way to start offering finger foods without getting him confused that he can "touch" this plate now and grab the food? I just don't want to deal with a behavior I might encourage by accident. Thank you

Plowmanators said...

Lonnie and Aymee,

I would just put his food on his high chair tray. He can touch that. Food you are giving him with a spoon he cannot touch.

They are super smart. He will pick up easily on what is allowed and what isn't. The day will come when he will try to grab the spoon. Just remind him that is a no and he will get it.

Melissa Vucijevic said...

Not sure if you'll see this...I wonder if you get notified on comments on old posts?

I think this is the post that you mentioned biter biscuits. My 8 mo old is just starting finger foods and i wanted to give him some sort of biter biscuit or teething cookie, but every brand i've looked at show they are for toddlers only. am i mistaken? why would a toddler need a teething biscuit?? do you have a brand of teething biscuits and an age that you started the kids on them?

thanks - also - this website has saved my sanity several times. so thank you!

Plowmanators said...

Melissa we used gerber brand. If they say it is for toddlers and older, I would bet it is to save themselves from lawsuits unfortunately.

Though toddlers get molars and incisors. Not a fun time for anyone :(

Lauren Milmine said...

I have 11 month old triplets. 2 of them eat well with their hands and are great self-feeders. The other will pick up her food but will not put it to her mouth. She drops it on the floor or squeezes it in her hands every time. This applies to all types of food - bread chunks, veggie sticks, chicken sticks, yogurt melts, snack puff sticks, fruit bits, etc. I have tried over and over to show her how to pick up and put to her mouth as an example, telling her to put in her mouth, praising her, guiding her hand to her mouth, etc. she just resists and screams and drops the food immediately. I am not sure what to do. Do I keep feeding her myself? She is almost a year old and I am worried that she seems to have no urge to self feed.
Thank ou

WyattsMom said...

My LO just turned 11 months and he is still only eating purees, after liquid feedings, at 7am, 11am, and 3pm. We have tried giving him the puffs, soft foods, etc, but he usually just holds them in his hands and/or squishes them. He will sometimes put them up to his mouth, and if it gets in there he will make a funny face and gag (sometimes throw up) if it gets to a certain point on his tongue. Recently he has gotten a little better with keeping the puffs on the side of his mouth and gumming them, but we have not been able to get past those. And even those sometimes don't go well. He sits with us when we eat dinner, and he sometimes acts like he wants to be eating something, but I don't know how to move past this gagging. It's getting really frustrating cause I feel like he will be eating purees for a long time.

WyattsMom said...

My LO just turned 11 months and he is still only eating purees, after liquid feedings, at 7am, 11am, and 3pm. We have tried giving him the puffs, soft foods, etc, but he usually just holds them in his hands and/or squishes them. He will sometimes put them up to his mouth, and if it gets in there he will make a funny face and gag (sometimes throw up) if it gets to a certain point on his tongue. Recently he has gotten a little better with keeping the puffs on the side of his mouth and gumming them, but we have not been able to get past those. And even those sometimes don't go well. He sits with us when we eat dinner, and he sometimes acts like he wants to be eating something, but I don't know how to move past this gagging. It's getting really frustrating cause I feel like he will be eating purees for a long time.

WyattsMom said...

My LO just turned 11 months and he is still only eating purees, after liquid feedings, at 7am, 11am, and 3pm. We have tried giving him the puffs, soft foods, etc, but he usually just holds them in his hands and/or squishes them. He will sometimes put them up to his mouth, and if it gets in there he will make a funny face and gag (sometimes throw up) if it gets to a certain point on his tongue. Recently he has gotten a little better with keeping the puffs on the side of his mouth and gumming them, but we have not been able to get past those. And even those sometimes don't go well. He sits with us when we eat dinner, and he sometimes acts like he wants to be eating something, but I don't know how to move past this gagging. It's getting really frustrating cause I feel like he will be eating purees for a long time.

Valerie Plowman said...

Wyatt'smom--it makes me wonder if he has need for food therapy--does he have texture issues or some sort of sensory issue with the whole thing? It could be normal at that age, but I would definitely bring it up with his doctor to get some input. Just keep food in front of him and don't make it an issue. If he has no reason other than just not liking more solid food, he will try it eventually.

WyattsMom said...

I think he might have issues with texture, but tonight he did really well with a few puffs. I looked up food therapy and now I'm freaking out...
He does really well when the food stays to the side of his mouth till it dissolves/is ready to swallow...and he does a good job of swallowing at that point, but if he can't get it off his tongue if it's far enough back then he has issues. I tried a small piece of green bean tonight and he did really well with trying to gum it, but it wouldn't get smaller. He kept it in his mouth for a bit, but then it got stuck on his tongue and I had to take it out for him.

Valerie Plowman said...

I wouldn't freak out yet. I think he is young enough for that to be normal. So long as you see progress, I wouldn't worry about it.

WyattsMom said...

Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I'm wondering when I need to move to 3 feedings a day for my 11.5 month old LO. He currently has liquid feedings at 7, 11, 3, and 7 (26-27 oz total) and gets solids after 7, 11, and 3. I'm starting to treat 3pm as more of a snack time, and he is getting better with 'real' solids...slowly, but getting there. I'm also unsure which feeding to drop.
Thanks!

Valerie Plowman said...

Look at my post "aligning meals with the family" for more on this. It could
Be anytime between now and 18 months about.

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