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Feeding your new finger foodie

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.
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Big step toward independence

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 mouth coordination.


Prepare yourself for messy mealtime

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!


First they gum

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 throat.


And then they chew

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 sugarless kind.


Signs that mealtime is over

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.


Keep it interesting, keep it healthy

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.

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

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