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Child Care & Development : When Can Babies Eat Finger Foods

Hi I'm Dr. David Hill and today we are going to talk about when your baby can start eating

finger foods. Now babies are going to be completely nourished or bottle fed up to four months

of age and sometimes as long as six months of age so it is really not a question then.

But starting around six months, your baby is going to develop the ability to pick up

small items with their hand and whatever they pick up is sure to go in their mouth so some

of it could be food. How do you start? Well you always want to look out for choking risks

so the first things you introduce are going to be things that turn to mush as soon as

they contact your baby's saliva. There are an increasing number of products, traditionally

there have been Zwieback Crackers, Arrow Root Crackers and teething biscuits. More recently

companies have produced little cereal like puffs that melt on contact with the mouth,

certain soft cereals like Cheerios will also do that and are relatively safe for your baby

to start with. Later as the baby progresses in its ability to chew, swallow and pick up

foods you can try cooking carrots or beans or other vegetables until they are really

mushy so the baby can pick them up but a little bit of gumming is going to turn them into

mush. By the time the baby is starting to get a decent number of teeth and a good chew

and swallow mechanism at nine months you can introduce some other diced vegetables and

meats. But you want to remember the baby's airway is roughly the size of their pinky

so you want to look at the pinky fingertip and chop whatever you are going to feed them

up smaller than that. One thing don't be in a rush to feed your baby finger foods or solids.

Don't let anybody tell you they are going to win some kind of prize if they eat flank

steak next week. Every baby learns to eat at his or her own rate and pushing faster

than they are ready to go will only lead to choking and that is something you want to

stay away from. Certain foods you never want to give an infant or toddler, peanuts, popcorn,

hard candies, marshmallows, whole grapes, hot dog circles, these all present extreme

choking risks and should be avoided at all costs. So to review, when do you want to start

feeding babies finger foods? No earlier than six months, usually some time between six

and nine months, start with foods that turn to mush and gradually graduate to other finely

diced or softer foods as your baby tells you he or she is ready. Talking about finger foods

for babies, I am Dr. David Hill.