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Babies enjoy feeding themselves and will often eat better when they feel more in control of their food and are not being spoon fed. They are ready to feed themselves using their fingers when they are putting other things, such as toys, into their mouth. Babies will often take finger foods even though they still gag on lumpy spoon-fed foods.
Finger foods that are more solid help develop chewing skills. If they are delayed, it may be more difficult to introduce them later on. Using fingers to feed themselves can also help develop your baby’s hand–eye coordination.
When your baby starts to reach for the spoon or bowl while you are feeding them, give them a spoon of their own and let them put their hands in the bowl. If they are in a highchair put their food on the tray to allow them to feed themselves.
Finger foods to try
Foods that mash in the mouth easily can be tried, for example;
- ripe, peeled soft fruit, for example banana, pear and peach
- cooked soft vegetables, for example carrot, courgette or parsnip
- fingers of buttered toast
- thin slices of cheese
- well-cooked pasta shapes.
When first introducing finger foods
- Never leave your baby unattended with food
- Make sure your baby is well supported in their seat
- Be careful with foods where small, hard lumps may break off, for example apples
- Be careful with foods that don’t mash properly and don’t break up easily, for example orange segments. Hold on to one end while your baby sucks the other.