Finger Foods & Baby Lead Weaning

Finger Foods & Baby Lead Weaning
Jodi Harris

Finger foods are an amazing way to get small children excited about trying new flavours and textures. It also allows little ones to improve their fine motor skills by trying to pick up carrots, baby tomatoes and holding onto bananas without completely turning it to mush!

Put baby in charge.
We also like that finger foods put your kids “in charge” of how much they eat. Food refusal may be linked to children not having a choice over the foods they eat, how they eat them or what order they put them into their mouths.  Giving small children some options can help them widen their choices which means, more food variety, more nutrients and an easier dinnertime for parents!

Who’s leading the weaning?
Finger foods and baby lead weaning go hand in hand and, as always, we recommend that you follow your baby’s lead on whether he or she prefers to be spoon fed, enjoys self-feeding or thrives on a combination of both methods. We encourage parents and carers to offer children the opportunity to feed themselves as it can play an important role in accepting foods and learning to eat. Do they make a mess? Yes, of course they do but it will all be worth it in the end. Seriously. Just don’t forget to stock up on paper towels!

On the go snacks.
A great time to feed your little one finger foods is when you are out and about – a few steamed broccoli florets, a home-made cereal bar or a few blueberries if you don’t have time to prepare beforehand are great “on-the-go” snacks than can be eaten in the pushchair, the bus to nursery or at the park.

We would like to encourage you to plan your snacks as you prepare your weekly meal plan. Why? Because that way you won’t resort to processed, ready-to-eat foods. Also, snacks are a fantastic way to add more fresh fruit and vegetables to your child’s diet. Don’t forget you can give your snacks a “seasonal” flavour like smoothies in the summer, crumble bars in the winter and carrots and cucumbers all year round.

Here are some ideas for quick finger foods to eat on the go. Just add a few to next’ week shopping, prepare them as you are making dinner, keep them in the fridge and you are ready to go!

Green beans (so easy to hold for weaning babies!)
Mini corn on the cob
Peaches (chopped small pieces until 9 months)
Fresh peas
Fruit salads
Fruit skewers
Brown rice cakes

Plain yogurt – you can add fresh fruit and blend it in the Babycook ® before freezing it to make ice pops.
Cereal bars
Savoury muffins
Sweet muffins (pack them with fruit!)
Mini wholemeal pittas filled with hummus or cheese
Mini wraps with nut butter (after nuts have been introduced)
Pop-corn (after 9 months)

Finger foods are also great for lunches, dinners and of course picnics. A cheese sandwich is easy but kids get bored easily so why not try some of the ideas below?

Potatoes and a dipping sauce (tomato for example)
Chicken pieces with an olive oil and lemon dressing
Corn on the cob
Asparagus tips and a dippy egg (After 12 months)
Crudités and hummus
Aubergine paté and wholemeal flat bread
Cucumber and a tahini sauce
Sardine paté
Egg cups
Mini Quiches
Pizza – of course!
Chicken drumsticks (after 12 months)
Fish fingers
Mini burgers
Fish burgers
Turkey bites
Corn fritters

One word of advice on finger foods used as a snack, make sure you offer enough to tie them over till lunch or dinner but not so much that they are not interested in the delicious meal you just made.

Our tip for little tasters.
We always set out a few finger foods on the table as we are making dinner – not too much just a few nibbles that work as a starter but do not sabotage their appetite for dinner.
We like offering cucumbers, carrots (steamed for young babies) and some hummus or maybe a few chickpeas or fresh peas for baby to pod and eat with their little fingers. It’s a fun way to eat, increases the variety of foods offered and, importantly, gives children control over how much they eat.

Written by Purple Carrot Nutrition: