The Diet Dispensary team recommends introducing complementary foods as soon as the child shows signs of readiness. Soft foods that can be eaten with the fingers are included in this recommendation.
Aim for Variety
The infant should be encouraged to eat foods of different textures as soon as solid foods are introduced. This includes finger foods and pureed food.
Examples of finger foods typically offered are ripe vegetables or fruits (i.e., bananas or avocado) and well-cooked meat.
A Learning Experience
By eating with their fingers, children learn to feed themselves from the start. The introduction of solid foods coincides with an important period in oral and motor development. Therefore, these foods allow the child to explore textures with their fingers and to become more accustomed to different smells and tastes. It is advised to offer small quantities of finger foods at a time to limit the mess that created during the baby’s learning!
The Safety of Finger Foods
Gagging may be observed when children eat foods that are in pieces. This is natural, as they learn to move the food around in their mouths, from front to back. Gagging is caused by the child’s gag reflex, a protective mechanism against choking.
The risk of choking is low since the child is responsible for putting food in their mouth and deciding how fast they eat. Nevertheless, it is important to avoid giving the child round, hard or sticky foods.