finger foods

I’m pretty sure it happened overnight. One day, the baby was happily slurping down every and anything I could run through a blender and the next day, all he wanted was That. What You’re Eating. Give It To Me Or I Will Make Terrible Yelping Noises Until You Figure Out That Babies Need Lattes Too.

[I’m sorry baby, but the last thing you we the neighbors need is something to keep you up at night.]

quartered tomatoes

And we haven’t eaten them same since. From that day on, I literally could not walk into the room eating an apple unless I also carried a dish of apple chunks for the baby to… what? I mean, he had like two teeth at that point and not very effective ones at that, but he wanted that food in his mouth and once he got it in his mouth, even if he hadn’t figured out how to “process” it, good luck getting it back. Suddenly, those teeth were daggers. Occasionally, two hours later we’d find the half-eaten chunk of apple deep in his shag play rug. Babies, man. Good thing they are cute.

lima beans

And so we started on finger foods. In the first “phase”, I looked for things I believed he could mash up in his mouth: soft, skinned chunks of peaches; bananas, avocado, cooked carrots. He loved cantaloupe and watermelon (it was summer here, after all) and then one day, we discovered he loved tomatoes too when one he had tomato seeds all over his shirt and he’d apparently managed to pluck a cherry tomato out of my farmer’s market haul and helped himself to it. Soon it was bagels and even pieces of chicken and within a four week period, we’d gone from carefully introducing only one food at a time to realizing that there was not a thing on earth that the child wouldn’t eat. I hear from parents of toddlers that this phase doesn’t last very long so I’ve decided to enjoy it.

boiled fingerling potatoes

Our first finger foods (simply stuff we had around that went over well):

  • Banana
  • Ripe mango, melon, peaches, plums (peeled, pitted)
  • Avocado
  • Roasted potato or yams
  • Roasted or steamed carrots, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Strawberries that had been quartered lengthwise
  • Bagels and whole wheat toast “sticks”
  • Cheerios or the equivalent (but please do not get me started on how much I disliked so-called various organic Healthy O’s. I will clear the room with my rants)

Our second finger foods:

  • Bits of roasted chicken, broken-up meatballs
  • Soft, fresh mozzarella
  • Softly scrambled eggs, pieces kept large (see my technique here)
  • Halved grapes
  • Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  • Bits of pita dipped into hummus
  • Hard-boiled eggs, chopped into chunks
  • Any roasted vegetable

Some fun stuff we found at the market, once he got that early stuff down:

  • Doughnut peaches (yup, their little hands can hold them, just try to get the pit away before they eat that too)
  • Seckel pears (ditto, except I didn’t get the core away in time and it was… gone)
  • Baby apples (excellent photo op, too!)
  • Quartered teardrop tomatoes, which are often softer and sweeter than the greenhouse grape ones
  • Sugarsnap peas (not saying I think these are the safest, but the baby went apey over them)
  • Fresh lima beans, lightly cooked
  • Tiny seedless grapes

How I approached it: Although we started with the recommended “bite-sized pieces” I noticed that the baby was best able to manage foods cut into a “finger” shape — about 1 to 2 inches long and a 1/2-inch thick. It’s hard to do much with a little cube but pop it whole into your mouth, but the baby could hold onto one end of the longish piece while nibbling on the other, just like you or I would eat a carrot stick.

Next up: I freak out and start making a lot of soup.

64 comments on finger foods

  1. Brooke

    One of my son’s and nephew’s favorite finger foods, I guess these would fall into the second category above, was a piece of whole grain toast, schmeared with either well mashed avocado or a mixture of avocado and cream cheese (obviously cut into small pieces). Good fat for them, and right tasty too.

  2. We have an almost identical menu. Other things we’ve added that my son has really enjoyed are pasta with pine nut-less pesto or bolognese; mac and cheese (we added butternut squash puree); dried fruit like raisins; pancakes, also with a veggie puree added; and lately small pieces of anything we’re eating, including but not limited to triple creme brie on baguette, spinach latke, thin crust pizza, and buffalo chicken dip on tortilla chips.

    Please don’t tell me this is just a phase – I love having such an adventurous eater!

  3. Great menu – I hadn’t thought of some of these (the comments too) and we’ll have to try them. As we’ve moved into more proteins, we’ve also had great success with veggie burgers, sliced turkey from the deli, and flaked-up roasted salmon. Mini-waffles are also very popular here and the kids look really cute eating them.

  4. Erin

    Yea! Thanks for the ideas…we’re hitting this point just about now. My LO absolutely loves kiwi. Literally can’t get enough of it! How silly they are :) Each day I think is fantastic and then tomorrow comes and I can’t believe how much more fun that day is!

  5. Do post the link for your scrambled eggs technique (looks like it got missed). I currently have a 7 month old hungry hippo (24 lbs, I might add) that NEEDS everything we eat at the dinner table, yet can’t get his short little sausage fingers to pick them up. Some day soon, he’ll be as coordinated as Jacob and then this list will really come in handy. Love the image of a baby eating a meatball.

  6. Shara

    “Good thing they are cute.” I say this every single day.

    What good ideas! My 8 month old gags on bananas and avocado chunks, but loves sweet potato bites and (the much maligned) organic Happybaby puffs. I can’t wait to work through this list!

  7. karen

    my kiddo has been SO OVER purees this week. only wants what we have. Thank you for this list as I keep forgetting that there’s another little mouth to feed when I go grocery shopping!

  8. Amanda

    Deb, I think you meant to include your link to your egg deliciousness in your comment above about Jacob’s eggs, but it is missing. I don’t even have any babies yet, but I enjoy your posts so much I stop by here as well. Keep up the great, enthusiastic work! :]

  9. Jason

    Great list. We’ve pretty much gone through the first set and most of the second. It is hard to get our 11 month old to eat anything from a spoon. Thank goodness the markets have been plentiful right now.

  10. Juliette

    My 17mth old eats almost anything (although she does not like eggs – tried every form), so maybe its a long phase. But I do suspect that there is an element of personality, that is, she lives for food and we are more adventurous in what we offer than with our first child. Our older one is 6 years and is quite a fussy eater after chowing down everything around the 1 year old stage. Interested to see how it goes. J

  11. jennifer

    Deb, I think you might be reading my mind. I was just online searching for finger food ideas now that the little one has totally mastered her pincer grip, and idly checked your blog on the off-chance that you had a new post. Thanks so much!

  12. Giovani

    I love these posts. They don’t really serve a purpose for me, as I’m childless, but they’re still interesting. Jacob eats very well, it’s great that he has parents like you to introduce him to delicious food at such an early age. Great pictures too!

    “he loved tomatoes too when one he had tomato” I think you meant ‘one day’. :)

  13. jessica

    So many great ideas here! As ling as your baby has a couple of teeth, corn on the cob is one of the best foods. It wil keep them busy forever and its so cute to see them gnaw away!

  14. Marti

    Look at you, with a new section!

    Did I miss the write-up on the main page about this? It’s great!

    Although… do we have to agree to fewer main page posts?

  15. Deanna

    Marti, I think the fewer main page posts are from having a baby and writing a (much anticipated by me) cookbook, not so much from adding the baby page.

    1. deb

      Marti — I didn’t announce it. Hm, I probably should but I know I have limited time to devote to this side blog, and don’t want to raise and then disappoint expectations. The main blog is still my priority (as is the cookbook, thanks Deanna). And of course, the goal of this site was to be somewhat shorter lived as the goal is to get the baby eating what we’re eating, and not specially prepared foods. Although, at least for a while, at least some special meals seem inevitable. They’ll be posted here.

      Another finger food for the list — Kidney beans! Who knew? Was making chili yesterday afternoon and had many extras from a can. Baby loved them. I now want to play around with cooking giant white beans in a stewy broth so they absorb the most deliciousness possible. I’ll try not to eat them all myself.

  16. Alex

    The great thing about feeding the little ones this way is, although they may go through a bland food phase later in toddler hood, they often come back to the interesting (and healthy) foods. My three ( now 12, 12, and 8) started on our food made mushy and now eat their veggies first, clamor for more fruit and are adventuresome eaters. This isn’t to say they don’t love their junk and sugar too ;-)

    Regarding teeth, it sure keeps you on your toes when babies develop their “biters” before their “chewers”. Yikes!

  17. Oh that look on his face when I’m drinking a hazelnut latte and hoarding it all…

    Our little guy also loves chicken sausage – there are some great natural brands out there, and I love that there are some unique flavor combos in chicken sausage as well.

  18. Gwen

    It might be a phase, but I wouldn’t count on it. My twins are three now, and we fed them a lot like you’re feeding Jacob. They loved food, and were adventurous from the beginning. They ate a shocking amount of filet mignon at about 11 months, in tiny shreds, and our dinners have never been the same. Now, at three, they love sushi, Indian food, ceviche…you name it. One of them actually jumped and down clapping in the kitchen the other day when I told them we were having steak and salad for dinner. BTW, I’m really enjoying this side blog, because our third girl is 4 months old right now and I’m soon to start this whole solid food adventure again. Love it!

  19. Our little guy (just turned one) also loves cheese quesadillas cut up into 1/2 inch squares and pieces of whole wheat corkscrew pasta. I’m still kind of amazed that both he and his 3 year old brother eat steamed broccoli straight, but try not to look too shocked lest they get suspicious and stop eating it.

  20. I still remember the moment, yes I can pinpoint the moment, when my oldest refused to eat anything we fed him from a spoon. We were at a restaurant for brunch and I was feeding him a puree while we waited for our meals. When the waiter came to the table my then 10 month old looked at my pancakes, looked at the spoon I had been feeding him with. The look on his face clearly saying, “You fed me that when this was coming?” He never ate from a spoon again until he could feed himself.

    btw, grapes should be quartered not halved. When halved they are still just the size of a babies throat.


  21. Adrianne

    My 10-month old will eat anything. Plums are a favorite, as are peaches. Quacamole, quinoa pilaf with veggies, pesto, anything flavorful. Beets are good, and so are crackers (the kind us adults would eat). And anything with tomato sauce. Such a fun age. I hope he is always this excited about food.

  22. Ooh, if I could grab your cheeks and kiss you I would! I was soooo bored by weaning last time and will be doing it all again in a couple of months. Any ideas and inspiration is so appreciated!!!

  23. Ashby

    We’ve been doing this type of feeding with Miles since the beginning (he always thought purees were a little beneath him) and he eats EVERYTHING. We also started with the soft stuff like bananas and avocados, but very quickly it turned into “here’s half a pear, go to town.”

    Have you tried fresh pasta with Jacob? Whenever my husband makes it, we give Miles a whole sheet (smeared with garlic butter, obviously) and he devours it. He’s also into falafel.

  24. Sara

    We did the same thing! My son went through very little “baby food” stage and straight to “I want what you want” stage. He even got a slug of my latte once when I wasn’t looking!

    My advice for babies who love the taste of coffee? Coffee-flavored steamers! Our coffee shop does them for my son all the time and he thinks he’s getting “coffee” just like Mommy!

    1. deb

      Sara — Love it! He just started milk and he loves it. (As do I. That Ronnybrook Cremaline stuff is a revelation.)

      Grapes — These were pea-sized farmer’s market grapes and there was no need to quarter them. I prefer them because the baby can be self-sufficient feeding himself.

  25. Carrie

    Awesome, I was hoping you would post about your baby foods, I guessed you probably wouldn’t be feeding store bought:). We’re just about to get to solid foods. I made some rice cereal (those boxes are huge for only feeding a few times) and we’re still working on what to do with the food when it gets into her mouth! I’ve been preparing foods and freezing them in anticipation in the meanwhile.

  26. Deb, I would have left pea sized grapes alone as well, I was referring to the grapes listed as second finger foods:

    Our second finger foods:

    Bits of roasted chicken, broken-up meatballs
    Soft, fresh mozzarella
    Softly scrambled eggs, pieces kept large (see my technique here)
    Halved grapes
    Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
    Bits of pita dipped into hummus
    Hard-boiled eggs, chopped into chunks
    Any roasted vegetable

    btw, While the happy eating almost anything stage did not last forever for my children they are still way less picky then many of there same age peers. Your early forays into letting him try so many things will still pay off, even if you are sometimes tearing your hair out at random pickyness.


  27. DebinNC

    Child #1 would not eat ANYTHING, bringing other members of her household to tears. Therefore for child #2 we made no special efforts and propped his baby chair on the dining table. When he started leaning forward eagerly as we lifted our food to our mouths, we’d pop a bit into his mouth, too. He’s never been a picky eater and now he’s a budding great cook, as well!

  28. Anne

    Deb – do you leave the skin on the apples and pears? I still peel them, but I’ve been wondering if he can wrangle his way through it … keep meaning to google it, but always forget!

  29. jennifer

    Just wanted to let you know that we made your baked chicken meatballs (sans pancetta for the ones that are hers) tonight and the baby gobbled hers up!

    1. deb

      jennifer — Awesome! I was thinking about using those next. I’ll have a meatball recipe up here soon, which I made for Jacob.

      Robin — Ah, right. I forget I type things sometimes. Also, re: “random pickyness” I would say the single thing that has caught me most off-guard with the baby-feeding is that these babies, these loves our our lives, will take food we lovingly prepared for them and throw it on the floor. And we are still required to feed them after! And not send them to their rooms without dinner!

      (I am being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, of course. We don’t applaud this behavior but there’s only so much limit setting you can do with an 11 month old who was just trying to communicate that he’d been presented with too many options at once.)

  30. alissa

    I am so jealous your baby gets to eat so many foodstuffs. My 8 month old is allergic to everything (including a loooong list of things passed through my breastmilk that I have to avoid) so we do not get to feed him fun foods. Even with one thing at a time ‘safe’ foods, half of what we’ve tried has led to digestive disasters. So I’m just waiting impatiently for him to outgrow this so we can feed him fun stuff without a crazy special schedule and once a week introductions.

    He never wanted to be spoon fed, and we started right off with soft finger foods right at 6 months. He likes to chew on a spoon, but will not eat from one being held by a grownup.

    This list looks like such fun!

  31. Rebecca

    Please, please, please, I really want to hear your healthy Cheerio rant!

    Ps. I have a 9 month old, and am so enjoying introducing her to finger foods. She just sits in her high chair making this constant “mmmm-mmmm” sound as she stuffs everything from your indian-spiced cauliflower (last night’s dinner) to slices of roast lamb in her mouth.

    1. deb

      Rebecca — I did not try all of the alternative Cheerio brands, so this is not an exhaustive rant, but I tried a few and they were, without fail: sweet (Cheerios are not), had fewer nutrients and staled the second you opened the package. The sugar content, which was astronomical in some cases, infuriated me the most. I’m not a huge fan of Big Organics and Faux Health Food or even Boxes With World-Saving Claims to begin with but this might have been the final straw for me as these were vastly inferior products. We buy Cheerios now, and save our do-gooding energies for the farmer’s markets.

      *Puff* *Pant* What, do I sound cranky about this or something?

  32. Oh those baby apples are killer cute!! We had some of those and now I’m trying to remember if indeed we did take advantage of the awesome photo op!! Loooving this new side project. :)

  33. Yay… love this. I am getting ready to have a second munchkin myself. My son at 2 1/2 has graduated to basically whatever we are eating but there was a lot of trial and error when he was smaller. I don’t like the idea of canned foods, and normally neither do they (can you blame them, the meat smells like cat food). It will be nice to have a archived cheat sheet of sorts when we start up with finger foods again.

  34. Yay! My husband and I are having our first baby this January. I know it will be quite a while before I can put these recipes and ideas to good use but we love to read this! It makes me excited to imagine which foods my little one will (and won’t) like. So please keep posting!

  35. alex

    cheerio-related: I suggest trying the whole foods brand “morning o’s” – My 1-year-old and I think they are great – not too sweet, do not stale into a hardened mass, and cost about 3 bucks. I’ve begun to eat them myself. Make cheerios taste blech.

  36. Rebecca

    Thanks Deb! That’s interesting. I was surprised that all the baby first snack foods in the grocery store had lots of added sugar and sometimes salt too! I guess they are kind of like cookies (another question would be why are we introducing the concept of cookie so early), but I was annoyed at the time because, like the “healthy” cheerios, they are marketed as healthy and organic, yada yada yada. I guess I expected them to be sweetened with apple sauce or something. Hmmm… maybe there’s a gap in the market…

  37. Thank you so much for this! I am expecting my second child in another 7+ weeks, and I think I would prefer to feed it people food as opposed to jarred baby food. Your recipes make it look so easy! I am looking forward to getting a new cuisinart duet and making some baby food!

  38. Tara

    Loved this post, Deb. And your comment about the throwing food on the floor–you have company. I have 15 month old twins, and, unfortunately, they still do it, despite the discouragement. Luckily only one does it consistently, and it is much better than it was, but ohhhh how frustrating to put all of your love and energy into preparing a lovely meal and then have the second half of it thrown on the floor.

    That said, our guys have loved most of the foods you listed above! We also feed our guys a lot of pasta (we live in Italy), and they love it in all its shapes and sizes and with fancy and simple sauces (olive oil? yum? pesto? mmm-hmmm, a favorite, especially with trofie pasta). A great sauce before the chewers come in that they LOVE? I make a ragu alla Bolognese filled with the requisite meat and soffrito but also add some extra veggies, then my husband and I eat it normally with pasta and I take an immersion blender to part of it for the babies. They like to eat the smooth sauce by the spoonful (increasingly and insistently by themselves!) and also the pasta covered in it. I can’t wait for your soup post, as the cold weather is bringing a desire for good soups. They love lentils so far, but can’t wait for more suggestions!

    1. deb

      Tara — On the food-on-the-floor thing, we realized this week that (at least for now) what he hates is sitting still/confined in the chair (no surprise, as the child hasn’t sat still in 6 months). We took him out of the high chair when it happened a few times this week, and he ate almost everything, sitting on the floor, next to mama at the kitchen counter, eating scraps, getting little chicken fingerprints all over the once-clean kitchen. So basically, puppy-style. Oof. Of course, that’s just the story this week. Next week, I am sure we’ll be onto something else

  39. Do you peel those fruits and beans first? I need to find something for my son to eat besides purees and puffs, but the first few solids didn’t go over well at all… hopefully he’ll soon be eating as adventurously as Jacob does!

  40. Krista

    I love your Cheerios rant! (Father-in-law works for General Mills and knows the top secret Cheerios method. Our 12 mo old, of course, eats a ton of them.)

    Really though, just wanted to share that I made your creamed spinach recipe (again…I love it) and he was shoveling it his mouth by the fistful! Was messy and hilarious.

  41. glad to see you’re back sharing baby recipes. i’m about to try your moroccan spiced spaghetti squash and plan to share it with my daughter. she also thinks everything mommy and daddy eat is for her too! and she squeals with displeasure as though it is outrageous for us to think we could eat without her (even though we will have just finished feeding her). oh and god forbid you take too long between bites!

  42. Meggie

    Thanks for the list – and for the baby food blog! I have an 8 month old son who has decided (like many others, it seems) that he wants to eat whatever we are eating. It never ceases to amaze me what he loves (apple-onion-cheddar cheese soup) and what he doesn’t (sweet potatoes). But the most favorite of all? Pumpkin bread. At least for now – who knows what’s next! Looking forward to the soup and meatball recipes. Thanks Deb!

  43. Carmen

    Love your recipes! We have started with fruits and veggies. but I am uncertain about when to start giving whole milk? When did you start? Also, do you make your own oat, spelt and barley blend or do you buy it? My darling son is not liking his rice cereal too much. Uh… Thanks and have a great day!

  44. Deb, another great finger food idea… I am sure you’ve tried it already. I’ve been making big batches of finger food sized roasted veggies (today it was carrot, zucchini, beets, and yam). Emilee loves them, and us adults get to use the dish as a side too.

  45. Rebecca

    Carmen – about rice cereal alternatives, I never gave my (now 9 month) daughter rice cereal. The closest I got to a grain cereal was oatmeal, and I just bought regular (organic) oats and cooked them like I would for myself (except minus the salt). She loves it!

    1. deb

      Carmen — I bought it from Earth’s Best brand. We started him on whole milk, er, last week, a couple weeks after his first birthday. But please, do what your ped recommends. I’m in no position to advise on schedules!

  46. I was laughing so hard reading this post I was almost crying. Really.
    My son is like that at the moment (except he is 19 month old, he has a bit of delays due to some not so funny health issues). I can relate to the apple chinks being found in weird places.
    Thanks for all the ideas :)

  47. Ooooooooooooooooooh, I cannot thank you enough for this post! My baby E is so tired of purees. Heck, I don’t know if he even wanted them when we started them a month ago. I think he’s always just wanted to get his hands on food and shove it in his mouth—be it parts of my body or what’s on my plate/hand/whathaveyou. It’s gotten to the point where he will make a scene if we eat out until he’s got his own pile of good stuff. He’s a little more tame at home, as long as he’s on our laps with us sharing our meal.

    I’ve been trying to think of finger foods because I’ve been a little, uh, conservative about the size of what he’s been eating—I still just give him tiny bits of food by spoon or with my hands. I’ve been afraid of choking, even though he chews like he was born knowing how to (I guess, in a way, he was)! We did the one food at a time thing until baby E couldn’t take it anymore. He just wants to try it all.

    Again, thank you. I will be writing some of this down and sticking it on the fridge come morning for sure!

  48. Carmen

    Thank you so much. How did you introduce meat to him? What kind of purees with meat did you make? I am completely clueless on how to make them. Thanks sooo much.

  49. Staci

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been struggling daily with what to feed our 12 month old munchkin. While she is the love of my life, trying to find food to feed her at this stage is driving me crazy! Your ideas are inspiring and I can’t wait to try them. I felt like I was the only one who had no clue what to give this kid. You’ve made my week. P.S. Your apple sauce cake is delish!

  50. Amanda

    oh, deb, fear not. not all adventurous babies turn into no-foods-touching paranoiacs. at age two, my favorite thing was an artichoke. i ate escargots smothered in garlic at five. at six, i became obsessed with cappuccino and begged for it whenever i thought i could extort it from my parents. for years previous, i’d been drinking milky earl grey tea, anyway, and there were no ill effects, i promise. i think any child of yours will, with the occasional vexing phase, be a good eater.

  51. Heather

    [I just found your site and Love Love Love it!]

    Thank you so much for posting your baby/finger food ideas! My little man, Declan, is almost 8 months old and we’re starting with finger foods … bananas and the like slip right out of his fingers and he just ends up getting frustrated and wanting the puréed stuff! grrr .. I’m going to try some of your recommendations like potatoes and other veggies that aren’t so ‘slick’. :)

  52. I don’t know how I missed this but I read it today and I so remember the moment when my daughter (now pushing three) want THAT- what we ate. Since, I tell friends that babies are ready for finger foods when you- the parent- become self-consious about eating in front of them :-)

  53. Rocio

    Hi Deb-
    I LOVE LOVE your blog (both of them) My baby girl just turned 8 months old and we’ve been having fun with all things ‘puree’. She loves broccoli! I have barely done finger foods. Mostly I give her things as I’m about to puree them. Can I ask what the age range is for your list of finger foods. I was told by her pediatrician to not introduce eggs, milk (dairy), honey, and red meats until after 1 yr. I’m just curious because I would also love to have our daughter eating what we eat sooner than later.

    Thanks so much!!!

  54. Sharon

    Wondering if anyone is still monitoring comments here … just started feeding my six month old, and am interested in cooking for him and baby led weaning as he gets bigger. But I’m a little stumped by the no salt requirement. I know a teaspoon or so in an entire batch won’t hurt him, but a lot of my home cooked meals and/or restaurant food are high on the salt. Any thoughts on how anyone handled this issue are welcome.

  55. Kate

    Hi, Deb! Just wanted to say thanks for this post. Our 8-month old is just now in this exact stage and your writing made me laugh today. Thanks for giving me a few new ideas to try with him!

  56. Finger foods are very healthy for babies. After being a baby mother should take care of her baby and herself also. These kind of foods makes baby very healthy and energetic.

Comments are closed.