When we started our feeding journey this time around, I knew I wanted to do things a little differently than we did with Sage. Sage ate well from the beginning, but I’ve learned so much since then about the importance of development early on and that babies are actually (typically) more ready to self-feed than we think they are, and it’s a wonderful and important skill to teach for future development. So though we did incorporate purees to ensure Wren was getting in important nutrients (she has had feeding troubles since the beginning, so this was even more important to us!), we introduced texture and finger foods very early on. The Feeding Littles course was a game-changer for this! It took all the fear I had about self-feeding away and taught us how to allow baby to self-feed in a safe way.
As we embarked on our baby led weaning journey, I experimented a lot with finger foods for babies, with the tips I had learned in the FL course. Like, did you know babies need BIGGER pieces at first, and THEN smaller? Mind blown, right? Just me? Shapes that are easy to grasp with that palm-heavy grasp babies have in the beginning are easier and less frustrating, and you cut smaller pieces as babies become more skilled. So cool.
Creating baby-friendly finger foods is just as easy (and sometimes easier!) than purees! Here are 10 of our favorite baby-friendly finger foods:
1. Steamed broccoli or green beans
Broccoli: Easy peasy- cut into big florets and steam for 3-4 minutes until soft enough to mash with gums. I like keeping the stem nice and long so it’s easy to handle.
Green Beans: These are super easy to do from fresh or frozen– remove woody ends and steam for 2-3 minutes until soft enough to mash in gums. Let cool before letting baby grasp and play!
Any veggies work here– Wren also loves carrots and zucchini!
2. Soft Cooked Meat slices
Babies need iron and zinc- meat is the best way to get this! We leave a piece of whatever meat we are enjoying less-seasoned and she goes to town on grass-fed steak, pork chops and chicken thighs!
3. Sweet Potato Fries
Preheat oven to 375. Peel and slice sweet potatoes into fry-like shapes and toss in fat of choice (Wren loves grass-fed ghee!). Roast for 20-25 minutes until soft. Let cool and let baby enjoy!
4. Sweet Potato Zucchini Cakes
1 large sweet potato, grated (about 1 cup)
1 large zucchini, grated (about 1 cup)
2 eggs, beaten (you could also use 3 egg yolks if baby isn’t ready for white yet)
¾ tsp sea salt cracked (you can leave this out if you’d like)
¼ cup whole grain flour or almond meal
2 tbsp coconut oil for searing
1. Heat oil over medium high heat.
2. Mix sweet potato, zucchini, eggs, flour and seasonings in a large bowl.
3. Using your hands, form about 2 heaping tbsp of the mixture into a small ball and squeeze out some of the liquid.
4. Flatten into a thick patty and place on pan (be careful of splattering).
5. Let cook until bottom is browned and cakes flip easily. Repeat until mixture is used up. These are fun to serve with applesauce, like latkes.
5. Baby Bison or Lamb Burgers
For these, we just take a small amount of meat and season with some dulse, and shape into a small patty. Sear in a pan on medium low heat so it’s nice and soft and serve!
6. Banana Handles
This is our silly term for slicing the peel off of 3/4 of a banana half and just leaving a ‘handle’ at the bottom. Wren LOVES to nom on a ‘banana handle’ with her yogurt for breakfast! Just make sure the banana is ripe.
8. Gluten-free blueberry pancakes– once baby is ok with a few grains
(Makes 8 small pancakes)
1 ½ cup gluten-free flour blend; (or ½ cup each sprouted quinoa flour, sprouted buckwheat flour and arrowroot starch)
1.5 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 flax or chia “egg”- 1 tbsp ground flax/chia whisked with ¼ cup water OR 1 egg
¾ cup milk of choice (more as needed)
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
optional: 2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp oil of choice, plus more for pan- coconut is my favorite
½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries or sliced strawberries
1. Mix flour, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk flax/chia “egg”, milk, applesauce, sugar, vanilla extract and oil. 3. Whisk wet ingredients into dry. Stir in blueberries.
4. Heat oil over medium high heat. Pour 2-4 tbsp of batter into pan and cook until bubbling and golden on one side.
5. Flip and cook until opposite side is golden. Let cool before serving.
9. Smoked or Canned Fish
No, I’m not kidding! Local smoked fish is one of our favorites- it’s a great way to get in those important brain-healthy omega-3’s and they’re already soft! (Be careful of excess salt in store-bought smoked fish).
10. Avocado Slices
These are one of our family favorites- we always have avocados on hand, and what a great way to get healthy fat into babies! I love Megan Garcia’s suggestion to coat with some vitamin c powder, dulse or spices (no salt) for an extra dose of nutrients.
Really ANY food can become a finger food for baby, when it’s prepared in a way that is safe for baby to enjoy! Wren has enjoyed all of the above, as well as slices of salmon, shrimp (one of her faves!), mango, steamed carrots, asparagus, sauteed apples, sauerkraut (big chunks only) and so much more!
Do you have favorite baby finger foods?