Baby's moving on to table food? That's big news and a big step toward independence. Plus it's the next stage of hand, eye and mouth coordination.
About the time that babies
start to move around on their own and pick up most anything
and everything within reach, they begin to show an interest
in feeding themselves. Self-feeding is a big step toward
independence and also helps a baby learn eye, hand and
When it comes time for self-feeding, you'll want
to encourage your baby's efforts and get ready
for a few months of messy mealtimes — with more
food on the face or on the floor than in the baby. This
is okay, and a stage that every parent goes through.
Take a deep breath and let them dig in!
Finger foods should be firm enough to pick up and hold,
yet tender enough to "gum" (and later on,
to chew) and swallow easily. You can tell if a cooked
food is the proper consistency for self-feeding if it
can be pierced easily with a fork. Keep the pieces large
enough for baby to grasp, but small enough so that even
those pieces swallowed whole won't be lodged in the
As your baby grows and becomes more adept at chewing,
you can add munchier foods. Try zwieback or French toast, small
chunks of soft cheese, or fruits that have been
peeled and cut into bite-size pieces. Dry cereal is
another favorite finger food, but one that's too
difficult for babies of this age to manage. Wait until
your child is about nine months old before offering
this snack, and when you do, make sure it's the
Some babies may delight in flinging their food about
or dropping it to watch it land on the floor. Babies
will often do this toward the end of a meal when they've
had enough to eat and are no longer hungry. If this
happens, simply say that mealtime is over, take the
baby down from the chair, and go on to some other — less
messy — activity. Or, you may simply prefer to remove
the food from the high-chair tray and give your baby
a favorite toy or two to play with.
You'll find other suggestions for finger foods
in baby-food cookbooks. Of course, if you have any questions
about suitable foods, ask your doctor. He or she is
the best source of information about the proper nutrition
for your baby.
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