Shortly after my third son started eating baby food, I made the mistake of giving him “real” food. I believe it was a banana, and after that, he wanted nothing to do with baby food. He’d eat it if he was genuinely hungry, but spend the entire meal stretching his chubby little arms to my plate, his brothers’ plates- any plate he could see that didn’t have food puree on it. He wanted to feed himself. Unfortunately, while his taste buds said, “solid food,” kiddo only had two teeth and at five months old I was concerned he may choke without the ability to chew well. This led to the discovery of finger foods for younger babies with few teeth.
One big winner with my baby was steamed veggies. They were soft, but not mushy, and became mush easily on his gums. If your baby is breastfed, however, be weary of uncut baby carrots. Mine was pretty sure the first one he got was a nipple. He tried to nurse on it and ended up inhaling it as he sucked. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots cut into sticks, and larger chunks of un-squished baked potatoes are all great finger foods for babies with no teeth.
You want to start with veggies, as some babies will reject vegetables if they’ve been started on fruit, kind of like giving an older kid their desert before their dinner. Fruit sticks, however, are great finger food for younger babies. Be careful of things like oranges that have a thicker skin beneath the peel. Your baby may “juice” the slice to speak and be left with an empty skin to choke on. Fruits which may be harder such as apples may also be better when your baby is older. Fruits such as banana (which can be a bit hard to pick up one slimmed), cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and mango are easily to cut into hand-sized sticks.
I wasn’t sure my baby could handle bread, then one of his older brothers gave him a Nutella and jelly sandwich, and I was proven wrong. Lightly toasted bread, bread sticks, pizza crust, basically any breaded item that isn’t overly hard or very crumbly (my baby had problems with Bisquick drop biscuits) all work well. I also found in many cases I could spread my left-over baby food on his toast, and he’d eat it that way. It was messy, but he really enjoyed it, and it added a bit more substance to the wide variety of starch a baby can handle.
As he got a bit older and was a more adept eater my baby did fine with hotdog (de-skinned if it’s a sausage-like option with a thicker chewier skin.) However, before that, I found a large strip of firmer meat such as steak or pork chop made him positively giddy-seriously, he would giggle while gnawing away at it. I believe the texture felt good on his gums, while he got just enough meat juice and bits to make him happy.
Even if your baby doesn’t have a mouth full of teeth, you’ll be surprised how much he or she is able to eat. If in doubt, try it and stand close by to quickly take it away if choking or gagging ensues. Also be sure to stay away from dangerous foods in the first year including cow’s milk and honey. Happy feeding!
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How to Wean a Baby onto Solid Foods
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How Do I Know If My Baby is Ready for Finger Foods?