Feed Yourself! 10 Tips For Introducing Finger Foods
Finger foods are the gateway to self-feeding and the first step toward independence at the dinner table. Kiddie chef extraordinaire Annabel Karmel cooks up all kinds of yummy, family-friendly meals, but the first step is easing your child's transition to solid foods. Here, Karmel provides us with tips and tricks for introducing finger foods to hungry (and grabby) tots.
Be Prepared to Look Inside
One sign that a baby is ready for finger foods is that she can chew chunkier purees without any hesitation. This isn't foolproof, though, so check in her mouth after she is finished for any food remnants that may cause choking.
Wash Those Hands
Proper hand-washing routines should be taught from an early age. Prior to giving your lil one food, wash his hands and explain to him why you are doing so.
Cold Foods Help Gums
Cold foods, just like teething rings, help soothe tender gums. A chilled piece of fruit or a vegetable like cucumber sticks can provide the necessary relief while continuing to encourage them to try new finger foods.
Make Proteins Fun
Babies need to learn to eat proteins other than cheese. Placing fun and enticing foods in front of them will help encourage them to pick up new proteins. Annabel Karmel's Italian-style mini meatballs are a great way to start.
Roll 'Em Up!
Simple sandwiches like grilled cheese are a popular first finger food. Flattening the bread with a rolling pin will ensure that the sandwich is not too thick to fit in a tot's mouth.
Make Happy Foods
You don't need to be a great chef to make new eaters happy. Simply going in with a positive attitude, and some creativity, will work wonders. Karmel's recipe for Welsh "rabbits" is a fun one to try with even the most finicky eaters.
Don't Obsess About Germs
Food will fall into the deepest cracks of the high chair, and days later you will find dried out pieces of carrots. Using antibacterial wipes to clean the chair is fine, but "remember that your baby picks things up from the floor and puts them in her mouth all the time."
Keep Some Foods Whole
While most foods should be cut up into pieces no larger than a Cheerio, some soft fruits and vegetables, such as cooked carrots, should be given to your child whole, to allow them to better grasp the foods.
Be Prepared, Not Tidy
Nobody ever said self-feeding was a tidy project. Mom's fears of a messy kitchen should not be projected onto a child. Karmel suggests allowing the baby to experiment. "She's bound to get into a mess, but it's not a good idea to continually wipe your child's face clean while she is eating."