Your 11-month-old is becoming more of an individual every day, from the toys she prefers to the snacks she loves. And while you may have introduced solid foods around the 6 month mark, you'll find that your little one might be interested in trying something more than Cheerios and mini goldfish crackers. By offering foods that are safe, soft and easy for little fingers, you can help her develop new tastes and expose her to new textures -- if only she'd slow down long enough to eat.
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Get Steamy with Fruits and Veggies
They're mild, sweet and easy to eat -- fruits and veggies make ideal finger foods. That's because you can cut and steam fruits and vegetables to make them safe for your little one to eat with her fingers. Look for fruits that are soft and can be chopped down to 1/2-inch pieces, such as banana, peach, steamed apples and plums. Hard veggies should be steamed or grated before you give your 11-month-old cut up pieces -- that way, they're soft for even toothless babies to eat, suggests Healthlink BC.
Gobble Great Grains
If you started your baby on grain cereal when first introducing solid food, it should be no surprise that grain-based foods are easy to eat and can make for ideal finger foods. While your little one can't exactly pick rice cereal up, you can offer small pieces of toast, crackers that melt in the mouth and even cooked pasta with a small amount of sauce. When in doubt, try eating a small piece of the food itself -- you're looking for grains that can be easily gummed without teeth, break down quickly and can be cut into 1/2-inch pieces, notes KidsHealth.org.
Don't Delay Dairy
While you may have heard that you should wait to introduce dairy to your child until she's a year old, new recommendations from the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology note that it's OK to introduce dairy products after the 4 to 6 month mark. Your baby might be old hat at dairy products such as yogurt, so she might be interested in trying soft cheeses that are easy to chew. Of course, if your baby has had a dairy sensitivity or allergy, speak with your pediatrician about safe dairy finger foods.
More Meat Please
While meat may not be the first thing you think of when considering finger foods, meat and eggs are an excellent source of protein for your growing baby. Meat should be cooked and diced into small chunks 1/2 inch or less, and given to babies with at least a few teeth -- look for softer meats, such as chicken, instead of tough or fatty meats like pork. Your little carnivore should be ready for meat around 7 to 10 months. For toothless babes, you can offer hard-boiled or scrambled eggs chopped coarsely for easy access.
Foods to Avoid
While you may be eager to give your little one new foods to try, take care. Always introduce new foods one at a time, so you can watch for and isolate any possible reaction. Choking hazards include things like grapes, hot dogs, marshmallows, nuts, popcorn and cherry tomatoes. Cut small, round foods into pieces no longer than 1/2 inch before serving, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and avoid any sticky foods that could be hard to swallow.
- Healthlink BC: Finger Foods for Babies 6 - 12 Months
- KidsHealth.org: Finger Foods for Babies
- The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice: Primary Prevention of Allergic Disease Through Nutritional Interventions
- HealthyChildren.org: Choking Prevention
- Babycenter.com: When Can my Baby Eat Meat?