Once hungry babies start eating solid foods, it seems as if all they want to do is eat. Obviously you cannot offer them a “meal” every time they seem to want a snack; sometimes they just need a little something to make them feel satisfied. During these times and especially when you are out and about, it’s easy to hand your baby snacks that are less than healthy. Popular packaged store foods like “Puffs,” make baby happy but offer little or no nutritional value.
It’s hard to know what to offer babies as a snack that will satisfy their hunger as well as their nutritional needs. Finger foods allow your baby to begin mastering the use of his hands and fine motor skills and get him on his way to feeding himself. There are many quick and easy healthy finger foods that both you and your baby can enjoy.
Simple Finger Foods
When your baby is first starting out on solids, it’s best to keep it simple and stick with mostly fruits and vegetables. Also remember to allow some time between introducing new items so that if your baby has any sort of reaction, you know which food it is from. At 6 months, baby is ready for solids (and some start as early as four months), but things still need to be very small and very soft. Cutting cooked and softened fruits and vegetables into small pieces is a great first finger food for baby.
Some fruits and veggies may be slippery which makes it hard for baby to grasp them. Try tossing these in some wheat germ or smashed up cheerios. Either of these will coat the fruit or vegetable and make it much easier for baby to grab ahold of. Some of the best fruits and veggies to use as finger foods are:
- Green beans
- Sweet potato
Remember that these foods must be softened and diced before giving to baby. Other fruits and veggies can be used (so long as they are safe for baby to have at this age – remember to avoid citrus fruits), but may be a bit more difficult or messy.
Of course, finger foods (even at this age) do not always have to only consist of fruits and veggies. If you want to shake things up and try something new every now and then, you can consider some of the following:
• Pieces of bread or bagels
• Cereals and Puffs
• Tiny “sandwiches” made from small pieces of bread with soft cheese in the middle
• Small pieces of cooked pasta (make sure it is cooked until very soft); you can even sprinkle some parmesan cheese on it
• Tiny cubes of tofu
• Brown rice – when overcooked it will stick together in little clumps that baby can easily pick up
These foods can cause constipation if fed too often so stick to fruits and vegetables as much as possible and offer these every few days or so.
Fun Finger Food Recipes
When you’ve got some extra time or just want something a little different, here are some quick and easy recipes that babies everywhere are raving about; 2 chubby thumbs up!
Fruity Fiesta: Mash together ½ a banana and 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt. Add 2 tablespoons of cubed peaches and mix until the peach cubes are coated with the banana/yogurt mixture. Roll the cubes in baby oatmeal until coated (this makes it easy for baby to pick them up), and serve!
Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes: Wash one sweet potato and bake until tender. Allow it to cool and then remove the skin. Cut it into cubes, sprinkle with some cinnamon and let your baby enjoy!
Squashy Ravioli: Mix together ½ cup of unbleached flour and ½ cup of semolina flour and slowly add 1/3 cup of very warm water. The mixture will form a dough that should not be too dry. After kneading, divide the dough in half and roll them each out until very thin.
Peel, cook, and mash about ¾ cup of butternut squash and add a pinch of paprika (the seasoning is optional).
Place spoonfuls of the squash about ½ inch apart on one of your rolled out sheets of dough. Place the other sheet of dough on top and press around the squash. Cut out around the squash molds with a knife, or splurge on some ravioli molds!
Finally, boil a pan of water and place some of the raviolis inside, when they rise to the surface, they are ready. Serve with tomato sauce or any other pureed veggie; just use some vegetable stock to thin it out.
Tofu Bites: Preheat your oven to 350 and cut one package of firm tofu into small pieces. Dip each piece of tofu into milk and roll this into crushed up cornflakes until completely covered. Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray. Place your tofu creations onto the sheet and bake for ten minutes, turn, and bake for ten more. Let cool and serve!