As well as coarser mashed foods from a spoon and soft, safe finger foods like cooked or soft vegetables cut into pieces, you can start giving bread crust and toast soldiers at this stage. Offering a wider range of finger foods will encourage an interest in food and more self-feeding.
If your little one’s teething, Heinz Farley’s Biscuits are good to chew on.
Aim to create balanced meals with a variety of textures by putting together minced meats, poultry, fish or a protein-rich meat substitute every day with starchy foods and vegetables. Try to avoid any added salt, sugar or honey.
At this stage, your little one can also try some more fruits:
Ideas for finger foods
As well as helping to develop their hand-eye coordination, finger foods can give little ones some independence they’ll really enjoy at this stage. If you’re stuck for ideas, try these:
• Chopped tofu with cucumber
• Cheese cubes with tomato slices or halved cherry tomatoes
• Sliced toast and hard-boiled egg quarters
• Frittata or Spanish omelettes slices with vegetables
Main meals should have a mix of food types similar to an adult’s. You can offer some as finger foods and the rest as proper meals:
• Starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta or potatoes (at every meal)
• Vegetables like peas, green beans, carrots
• Protein like beans and legumes, eggs, fish, meat or ground nuts
• Offer a fruit-based dessert after a meal
Once weaning’s begun and your baby is used to smooth puree, try introducing fork-mashed foods. How will you know they’re ready? Sitting without support, chewing their gums (a sign of teething) and taking more of an interest in food are all clues. They may also be drinking from a ‘sippy’ cup, with a little help from you.
Salt and sugar – Avoid adding salt and sugar to your baby’s food – so when you offer snacks, try to make one fruit-based and one vegetable-based.
Biscuits and cakes can encourage a sweet tooth and have little nutritional value. You might prefer just to offer small quantities as an occasional treat. Try Heinz Farley’s or Little Kids Biscuits– with no artificial colours or flavours and a gentle crunch that softens in little mouths, they’ve been designed to help little hands learn to grip.
Honey, unpasteurised/soft cheese, or white fish (e.g. marlin or swordfish) are still off your little one’s menu for now.
Foods that can cause choking
These foods should never be given whole to children under 4 years of age as they may lodge in your child’s throat and block their airway. To be safe, follow the guidelines below.
Always supervise your baby while they eat and always insist they sit down.
Hard, raw fruit and vegetables such as carrots, celery and apple – steam or microwave them until soft and refresh in cold water before you offer them as finger foods, or grate them.
Whole cherry tomatoes or grapes need to be cut into halves or quarters.
Sausage or hotdog pieces are still too wide, so cut lengthways into halves or quarters.
Whole nuts are too big, crush them or use nut butters only.