I am a massive fan of finger food for babies and toddlers so I thought I would do a series of easy finger foods over my next few posts. Letting babies feed themselves is great for developing their independence, hand-eye co-ordination and their pincer grip. It also allows your baby to explore different textures. A great advantage to offering finger food over purée is it helps take away the possible food battle of “just one more mouthful” as you are giving your baby control over how much they eat, depending on how hungry they are.
Freddie rejected the spoon at around 7 months so I started him on finger foods slightly earlier than Plunket recommends (around 8-9 months). This advice is only a guideline and you will know your baby is ready to give feeding themselves a go when they are able to chew and have started developing the pincer grip (are picking things up with their thumb and finger).
Initially you might find that everything goes on the floor but very quickly, if given the opportunity, they will start getting more accurate – I will never forget watching Freddie eat peas one at a time at great speed. To make your life easier I recommend putting a splash mat underneath your baby’s highchair. In this way you can pick up dropped food and put it back on the high chair knowing the surface is clean. It also makes tidying up much easier!
To prevent your baby choking when you first introduce finger foods make sure they are able to sit up by themselves, that they are able to chew and that you offer them foods that are soft and easy to chew. To limit their frustration try making or cutting food so it is easy to pick up and hold and not too slippery.
Watties have produced a handout listing a range of different finger foods for both 9 and 12 month olds that you might find helpful to give you some ideas of what to try. Meatballs are a big favourite of Freddie’s, especially when he gets to dip them in tomato sauce. I’ve decided to try and create my own so look out for a tomato sauce recipe soon! This recipe is also iron rich which is an added bonus.
Suitable from around 7 months
Freezes well uncooked
Makes: 12 meatballs
Preparation time: 5 minute
Cooking time: 25 minutes
200g premium minced pork or beef
1/4 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp mixed herbs
1/2 medium apple, grated
1/2 carrot or courgette, grated
2 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp oat bran
1/2 beaten egg
oil for frying
Fry the chopped onion until soft, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to fry for a couple of minutes. (This step will mean your baby eats the onion – Freddie will pick it out if I don’t fry it off first)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.
Form the mince mixture into balls about 1 heaped teaspoon in size and roll in flour.
Reuse the onion frying pan and fry until golden.
Place the meatballs on a baking tray and bake at 200⁰C for 20 minutes until cooked through.
Serve either as a snack or meal served with tomato sauce for dipping.