Real food finger food ideas that will teach self feeding while nourishing your baby!
“Just throw a few Cheerio’s on the tray and let her chase them around!”…
That was what my pediatrician told me 5 years ago when I brought my first baby in for her 9 month well baby check up. He told me it would be a great way for her to work on her pincher grasp and start learning how to eat finger foods.
At the time I was about 6 months into learning about traditional foods, and how to feed a nourished baby. I knew I didn’t want to throw cereal or baby puffs on her tray after feeding her such nourishing powerhouse foods like egg yolks, avocados, and bone broth for the previous 3 months. Baby puffs and other so called baby friendly cereals like the O’s are nothing more than toxic, extruded grains. Not only is there zero nutrient value, but baby doesn’t even have the digestive enzymes to process grain until well after the age of one! We set our babies up for digestive havoc when we introduce grain too young.
So my simple brain went to work figuring out a different way. She was already loving nourishing food mashes and purees I was feeding her, so why not just feed those same foods to her in a less mushed up way?!
Turns out you really can have a quick finger food to throw on the table or tray for baby to learn how to self feed. Here are my top 5 favs I have come to use with all 3 of my girls now:
Pinch off a few pieces and onto the table or tray – that is just as fast as those O’s. And very travel friendly since banana’s come in their own wrapping! Many times in the morning I’ll put a few pieces on the tray along with a few chunks in some raw milk or safe coconut milk for her to fish out.
One of the perfect foods for baby! And another one in its own travel wrapping! One of the reasons my big girls to this day eat avocados right out of the shell is because it was how it was served as baby. Just score the inside of the flesh into cubes and scoop onto the tray or table. They are a bit slippery but it is really great finger practice – they’ll catch on!
Peas, green beans, carrots, zucchini, summer squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, winter squashes! Super simple! Be sure to give them a good dollop of butter or coconut oil to melt. Friendly fats help the veggies digest better, and since the vitamins in veggies are fat soluble they will be getting more of the nutrients in the veggies. Get yourself a good steamer, and keep a small container of steamed veg in the fridge for quick grab and go. Sautee in butter and a splash or two of bone broth if you have it – so good!
If you have access to raw cheese, baby is gonna love this one! Edam is a great mild one to start, but I also recommend working up to some of the stronger soft raw cheeses so baby’s palate will get used to it. I typically warm it up in my hand at first so it is very soft, but then baby gets used to it right out of the fridge.
Ok so baby may not be able to have everything on your plate if there are some grains or a big steak on there, but if you want to create a broad taste palate for your baby, and help baby get used to all the flavors of your home, eating right off your plate is the best way to do that. (And the best “eating clean plan” you’ll ever encounter – those little eyes watching you are the best accountability to feeding *yourself* well!) Sans any grains, raw veggies, or tough meats, scoop out some of your soup onto the tray or table, or give babe a bit of your stew or stir fry! Three kids into this thing and I have never had a babe refuse what was on my plate – and it creates those healthy broad taste palates YOUNG so you don’t have to fight for it later.
Other foods to consider! My babies love coconut butter, so when they start finger foods sometimes I’ll chunk off a few pieces of that to melt in their mouth, or spread on some banana. Pastured egg yolks pack a large nutrient dense punch in a small package. Read THIS on how to serve a soft yolk to baby, as baby transitions into finger food I occasionall serve a cut up hard boiled or scrambled yolk. Keep in mind baby shouldn’t have the whites of the egg until he is over age 1. Small pieces of shredded crockpotted chicken or grassfed beef seem to work well for my babies around age 1 and older as well.
So talk to me! What are your favorite non grain finger foods for baby to learn self feeding?