When to Start Finger Foods for Babies

Breast milk fully meets the kid’s nutritional needs in proteins, carbohydrates, and other useful substances. At the age of 4-6 months, a baby already needs a variety of food, rich in useful substances necessary for development and growth. So it’s the right time to start giving a child finger food. 

What is Finger Food?  

Finger food is a type of product that a kid may grab with its tiny fingers and eat by itself. It could be:

  • finger chips
  • tea sandwiches
  • fish sticks
  • baby puffs
  • breadsticks

When to Start Solid Food?

According to experts’ recommendations, complementary feeding should be started no earlier than 6 months. It should not be introduced earlier, because the baby’s digestive system is still developing and there is a higher risk of choking on food for up to 6 months. Introducing complementary foods at the recommended time promotes health and can play a role in preventing future overweight and obesity. Iron reserves in children begin to be depleted approximately six months after birth, so at this time it is recommended to introduce foods rich in iron such as meat, poultry, eggs, fish, liver, etc.

Finger food cannot fully replace formula or breastfeeding. So it should be offered 30-60 minutes after breast or formula. Children older than 8 months can be given different healthy snacks between meals containing a variety of vitamins to get all the macro and micronutrients. You may find out more here source link

Furthermore, pediatricians advise not to stay long at the puree stage because the different textures of the products are good for the development of the jaws and mouth, and the development of fine motor skills. If a child is given only pureed food for up to 1 year and beyond and not finger food, a kid may have problems with nutrition and appetite in the future. You should also not offer the same product for a long time.

How to Understand that a Baby is Ready for Finger Food?

The introduction of supplementary food should be well organized, preferably under the control and following the recommendations of the pediatrician. You should carefully monitor the kid’s reaction to the new product. At the first manifestations of an allergy or intestinal disorder, the product is temporarily removed from the diet. 

The process of swallowing liquid food from a spoon as well as eating solid food is very different from the sucking mechanism, therefore, at the time of starting complementary feeding, a child must have certain skills:

  • confidently hold the head and sit without support
  • open the mouth when a spoon with food is presented
  • turn away from the spoon with food when it doesn’t feel hungry
  • keep the food in the mouth, to swallow

What Food is Prohibited for Children?

When you start supplementary feeding, you shouldn’t give a baby such products as:

  • sugar, as well as honey, juices, tea, coffee
  • salt (it is better not to salt food for up to 2 years)
  • cocoa, chocolate 
  • whole cow or goat milk as a drink 
  • raw products

How Much Solid Food Should a Baby  Eat?

According to WHO, the average number of calories in complementary foods for babies aged from 6-8 months is about 200 kcal per day, at 9-11 months is 300 kcal, and at 12-23 months is 550 kcal. Different products will contain different amounts of calories. For example, mashed zucchini is one caloric value, and mashed zucchini and potatoes with butter are completely different, accordingly, the portions are different, so there are no exact numbers in grams.

A child’s appetite usually serves as a guide as to the amount of food to offer. Forced introduction of a large amount of food leads to premature termination of breastfeeding and problems with supplementary feeding and appetite. That’s why one of the main points of supplementary feeding for up to a year is to introduce a baby to different products, and consistencies, identify food allergies and develop eating habits.