Healthiest Finger Foods for Babies? Not on the Baby Aisle!

6-12 Months

Sometime between 6 and 9 months, your baby will be ready to transition from pureed foods to thicker mashed foods, and finally to finger foods. But here’s a tip: The healthiest finger foods for babies are often not on the baby food aisle.

Healthiest finger foods for baby

Your baby is eating “big kid” food now, so it’s time to start looking beyond the baby food aisle for healthy choices:

  • Small pieces of fresh, ripe produce, like banana, mango, pear or avocado
  • Well-steamed or baked, mashed veggies, like carrots, sweet potatoes or squash
  • Cooked peas
  • Small legumes, like black beans or lentils
  • Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs
  • Pieces of whole-wheat toast (dry) or soft tortillas
  • Whole-wheat noodles or brown rice
  • Plain toasted oat cereal
  • Shredded cheese
  • Small pieces of ground or shredded meat or tofu

Other foods to try

These aren’t really finger foods, but they’ll teach your baby to explore texture and variety. He can practice with a spoon, but his fingers are fine!

  • Plain, whole-milk yogurt
  • Plain oatmeal
  • Cottage cheese
  • Natural applesauce without added sugar or artificial sweeteners (no need for the more expensive “baby food apples”)

While plain yogurt and oatmeal may seem bland, babies like the simple flavor. Flavored varieties of yogurt and oatmeal have a lot of added sugar, which your baby doesn’t need.

Foods to avoid

Hard, sticky or round foods can make your baby choke. To prevent choking, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends foods that are soft, easy to swallow and cut into small pieces.

Hold off on these:

  • Round foods, like whole grapes or cherry tomatoes. Grapes are the number one choking hazard reported in our emergency department. If you’re going to give grapes or cherry tomatoes to an older baby or toddler, cut them in quarters so they are no longer round
  • Popcorn, nuts and chips
  • Chunks of meat (ground, pulled and finely chopped meat is a safer choice)
  • Chunks of cheese (shredded or finely chopped cheese is a safer choice)
  • Big globs of peanut butter
  • Chunks of raw veggies, like carrots
  • Hot dogs
  • Candy and marshmallows

New research suggests that even some toddler snacks are choking hazards:

  • Yogurt drops: After being left out for as little as an hour, they can absorb enough moisture to make them sticky and hard to swallow. Plus, they are full of added sugar.
  • Teething biscuits: After baby has been gumming the biscuit for some time, it eventually gets worn down enough to break apart and can cause baby to choke.
  • Wheel-shaped grain snacks: These are simply too big for baby’s mouth.

Choosing healthy solid food for your baby is simple. Just go with soft, simple, unprocessed foods, and he’ll be chewing like a champ in no time!