If you’re starting baby-led weaning, then it’s ideal to have plenty of finger food ideas in your arsenal that are healthy and yummy.
In this article:
Julie Clark, a nutritionist and author of Baby Led Weaning Step By Step reveals her top finger food ideas for weaning.
14 best finger foods for baby-led weaning
Here’s a list of all the best baby led weaning starter foods that your baby will love…
1) Mango slices
Rich in vitamin A, mangos keep your baby’s eyes healthy. Leave the skin on as it will make it less slippy and easier for your baby to hold.
2) Banana chunks
This classic baby led weaning (BLW) food can be chopped into pennies or chunks for your baby to eat. It’s a great on-the-go food.
3) Steamed broccoli florets
The texture of broccoli is great for babies and their tree-like shape is ideal for your baby to pick up and hold. What’s more, broccoli is rich in vitamin C, which your body needs to absorb iron.
4) Sticks of firm mild cheese
Mini Edam cheeses are great – simply slice into sticks. Cheese provides an excellent source of calcium, which your baby needs for strong bones and teeth.
5) Thin strips of meat
Chicken or turkey is a good place to start. As your baby gets better at chewing, you can move onto pieces of lean lamb or beef. Meat is a great source of protein, which will help your baby’s growth and development.
6) Steamed carrot sticks
Chop a carrot into batons or pennies and steam. It contains vitamin A, which is great for your baby’s skin and eyes.
7) Mashed potato loaded onto a spoon
While it’s fine to let your baby scoop up mashed potato with his hands, you can also put a lump on a spoon and give it to him. He may put it in his mouth, he may flick it at the walls – it’s all part of the weaning process.
8) Steamed baby sweetcorn
The perfect length for finger food, there’s no need for chopping or slicing this baby sweetcorn. Simply steam and serve to your little one.
9) Unsalted rice cakes
Either use mini rice cakes and top with houmous or cream cheese, or larger ones and then break into small pieces. The houmous stops them from being too dry. Plain rice cakes are an ideal snack when you’re out and about.
10) Toast fingers
Yes, your baby will probably gum at it until it’s a soggy mess, but he will enjoy the texture of toast fingers – it’s great for teething babies – and it’s a quick and easy weaning food.
11) Hard boiled egg
Make sure the egg yolk is completely solid and then slice into quarters. The white and yolk will probably come apart, but your baby can pick at both pieces. Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin A.
12) Omelette strips
Like boiled eggs, omelettes are a great source of protein. Whisk up an egg, fry in a little vegetable oil, then cut it into 3cm long pieces using a knife or scissors.
13) Thick fromage frais loaded onto a spoon
Make sure you use a set yogurt (otherwise it could get quite messy) load a spoon up with it for your baby to feed himself with.
14) Cucumber batons
Slices of cool cucumber are great for soothing your baby’s gums if he’s teething, as well as being an easy BLW food.
Joe Wicks talks weaning
Joe Wicks’ transition from Body Coach to doting dad has been effortless, we can’t get enough of his adorable posts of his family, partner Rosie Jones and their 10-month-old daughter Indie. You can also turn to him for delicious weaning inspiration, Wean In 15 (genius, huh?)
‘Weaning is a really scary time as a new parent, you don’t know what to give them or what’s the right food,’ says Joe. ‘So I thought it would be a really great idea to start sharing my experiences and I made a new Instagram solely dedicated to that.
‘Everyone’s looking for advice and it’s difficult as there are so many confusing messages around about what you can and can’t do. So I thought I’d dispel some myths and give out some useful information.’
6 safety tips for baby-led weaning
- Avoid giving your baby any foods that could be choking hazards – such as grapes or nuts.
- Remember never to leave your baby alone when they are feeding.
- Once your baby has learnt to use a pincer grip (where they will hold the food between their fingers and thumb) you can introduce berries and raisins or peas.
- Remember that for your baby, food is fun, so they are likely to spend a lot of time playing with their food before they eat it. Don’t worry, this is normal.
- Use food that is easy to pick up like some of the options above.
- Try and offer your baby a variety of different foods but don’t overwhelm them.
Tips for babies with allergies
Whether you have a baby with an allergy or if you’re simply looking to introduce your baby to your family’s own foodie choices then check out weaning expert Annabel Karmel’s top tips to create healthy, balanced meals to wean your baby on.
When can babies start eating finger food?
Before you start baby-led weaning, it’s important to understand the NHS advice when it comes to weaning your six-month-old baby with solid food.
Wait until your baby is ready – before you start baby-led weaning your baby should be able to stay in a seated position and hold their head steadily.
They should be able to look at food and hold it themselves and be able to swallow the food.
How do you know when your baby is ready for baby led weaning?
Ideally a baby needs to be around 6 months before they are able to take more solid pieces of food, as is more typical with a Baby Led Weaning Approach. Signs baby is ready for solids include:
- Sit up and hold their head and neck steady
- Be able to see food, pick it up and put it in their mouth by themselves
- Be able to swallow foods and get more in their mouth than they spit out
Ultimately, when offering finger foods, you want baby to be able to really focus on their hand to mouth movements and their eating skills, not focusing on holding their trunk steady.
At around 6 months, the tongue thrust starts to become more integrated and so you’ll find that baby is able to swallow more foods around then. Baby will start to develop more skills around eating from around 6 months too. This means they gradually learn how to move food around in their mouth and start chomping and chewing foods as they are offered and experience more variety.
What foods are good for baby led weaning?
Initially soft, well cooked veggies that squidge between your finger and thumb are best for baby. This helps them to build confidence around self-feeding and hand-eye coordination at the start but with foods that will easily “collapse” in the mouth. Then moving on to offer more of a variety of finger foods is essential. For example, offering foods that you eat as a family can work well, as long as their are soft enough for baby to manage. For example foods such as bread, scrambled egg, baked salmon, fusilli pasta, some fruits can all be perfect finger foods for early on in weaning. Try to get baby involved in your own meals and let them share part of the meals you’re having yourself. Gradually build on the textures your baby is exposed to as they get more experienced and confident with eating finger foods.