Most parents know to wait until their baby is 4-6 months old before starting solid foods like cereal.
And they know that vegetables, fruits and then meats come next.
But when you can you start real 'solid' foods or finger foods, like cheerios, cookies and crackers?
Do you have to wait until your baby has teeth?
That is confusing to most new parents, but no, you don't have to wait until your baby has teeth before starting finger foods. Even if you 6-7 month old has teeth, they are not going to begin chewing foods until they are much older.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 'once your baby sits up, you can give him finger foods to help him learn to feed himself. Make sure anything you give him is soft, easy to swallow, and breaks down into small pieces that can't possibly choke him.'
In addition, you should likely wait until you child is sitting up well without support and has the coordination to hold and bring foods to his mouth with a thumb-finger grasp, which is usually at about 7-9 or 10 months of age.
Good choices for you baby's first finger foods can include:
- baby crackers
- pieces of bread
- plain wafer type cookies
- dry cereals, like cheerios
- cut and well cooked vegetable pieces, like green beans, potatoes, or peas
- pieces of soft ripe fruits (bananas, etc.)
- small pieces of cheese
- cooked pasta
- small pieces of well cooked meats
Even if you think your baby is ready for finger foods, be sure to always supervise your child when he is eating them in case he does choke.
Foods to avoid include those that are hard or slippery, and those that don't easily break down into small pieces, which are a choking hazard.
Honey is still to be avoided at this age, so avoid Honey Graham Crackers and 'honey' cereals, like Honey Nut Cheerios. Although the honey may be cooked in these foods, it is not heat pasteurized to remove botulism spores.
What if your baby isn't interested in trying finger foods?
At first, you should likely just wait a week or two and then try again.
It may also help to change the way you are offering them. Some infants do better if you offer something new, including finger foods, when they are very hungry and are less likely to get distracted. So offer them before breastmilk, formula or baby foods.
Other babies get quickly frustrated if they are very hungry and do better if you offer finger foods as a snack or after they have eaten some other foods.
You may have to experiment to find what works best for you and your baby.