Around 6 months, babies are learning to chew food with their jaws and gums. Babies don’t need teeth to eat soft foods. When you first start giving your baby solids, you should start by feeding them small amounts or mushy food with a spoon. However, it’s just as important for babies to learn to feed themselves in addition to food fed by a spoon. Babies love finger foods! They explore their food through taste and touch, learn to use their jaws and gums, and often have a lot of fun creating a big mess (which can be a pain to clean up, but does make for adorable photos). Baby may hold finger foods a lot but not eat much. This is okay.
When giving your baby finger foods, try to offer as many foods from the 4 groups as possible. You can often share your own meal with your baby, just follow some basic guidelines on making baby food and make sure that you are following safe food handling practices. Learn more about finger foods, including ideas about what to offer.
Because your baby will still be learning how to eat until they are about 4 years old, they are at risk of choking. Luckily, by taking a few easy steps, you can do a lot to prevent choking.
• Always be in the same room while your baby is eating
• Feed baby while they are sitting in a high chair
• Food to avoid: nuts, raisins, popcorn, hard/small candy, marshmallows, gobs of peanut butter or gooey cheese.
• Food to cut into small pieces: olives, grapes, raw vegetables, hotdogs (cut lengthwise first, then into small pieces)
Keep in mind that gagging can sometimes look like choking, but gagging is a normal part of learning how to eat. Choking means that there is no air moving. Your baby will start to look blue and won’t be able to make any sounds. If this happens, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If you have questions about what finger foods are best for your baby, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 and ask to speak to a dietitian.