Source: 10 Tips for Introducing Finger Foods
Finger foods are the gateway to self-feeding and the first step toward independence at the dinner table. Annabel Karmel has explained the importance of finger foods and how parents can ease the transition for their children. She's also provided us with tips and tricks for introducing these foods to hungry (and grabby) tots.
- Be Prepared to Look Inside: One sign that a baby is ready for finger foods is that she can chew chunkier purees without any hesitation. This isn't foolproof though so check in her mouth after she is finished for any food remnants that may cause choking.
- Wash Those Hands: Proper hand washing routines should be taught from an early age. Prior to giving your lil one food, wash his hands and explain to him why you are doing so.
- Cold Foods Help Gums: Cold foods, just like teething rings, help soothe tender gums. A chilled piece of fruit or a vegetable like cucumber sticks, can provide the necessary relief, while continuing to encourage them to try new finger foods.
- Make Proteins Fun: Babies need to learn to eat proteins other than cheese. Placing fun and enticing foods in front of them will help encourage them to pick them up. Karmel's Italian-Style Mini Meatballs are a great way to start.
- Roll Em Up!: Simple sandwiches like grilled cheese are a popular first finger food. Flattening the bread with a rolling pin will ensure that the sandwich is not too thick to fit in a tot's mouth.
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- Splat Mats: Placing a large splat mat beneath the high chair catches fallen foods, so they can be recycled back on the tray and cut down on the mess.
- Four Star Chefs Need Not Apply: You don't need to be a great chef to make new eaters happy. Simply going in with a positive attitude, and some creativity, will work wonders. Karmel's recipe for Welsh "Rabbits" is a fun one to try with even the most finicky eaters.
- Don't Obsess About Germs: Food will fall into the deepest cracks of the high chair and days later you will find dried out pieces of carrots. Using antibacterial wipes to clean the chair is fine, but "remember that your baby picks things up from the floor and puts them in her mouth all the time."
- Keep Some Foods Whole: While most foods should be cut up into pieces no larger than a Cheerio, some soft fruits and vegetables, such as cooked carrots, should be given to your child whole, to allow them to better grasp the foods. :
- Be Prepared, Not Tidy: Nobody ever said self-feeding was a tidy project. Mom's fears of a messy kitchen should not be projected onto a child. Karmel suggests allowing the baby to experiment. "She's bound to get into a mess, but it's not a good idea to continually wipe your child's face clean while she is eating."
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