Early on in the weaning process, your baby’s primary source of nutrition is still milk, but as she gets more used to solids, you can start to introduce snacks – particularly finger food snacks – between meals.
All babies develop differently, so if your baby can’t yet sit up unassisted or support her own head then she’s not quite ready for finger food snacks.
However if she can chew mashed up food (or gum it, if she has no teeth yet) and has a good pincer grip – the ability to hold a small object between her finger and thumb – then you can start to try her with some new flavours and textures.
Why your baby needs snacks
Giving your baby healthy snacks is good for her in many ways. Firstly, it will strengthen her fine motor skills, which paves the way for using cutlery later on.
Secondly, giving your baby small snacks encourages her to try a wide range of different tastes and textures, meaning she’s less likely to become fussy. It also introduces her to the art of feeding herself, rather than her relying on you to feed her. These early forays into independence will flourish as she gets older.
It’s important to give your baby age-appropriate snacks – for example, cooked carrot sticks are fine at this age, but raw carrots are likely to be too hard to bite and chew.
Make sure she’s sitting upright if you’re giving her finger foods to avoid choking, and never leave her alone when she’s eating.
Great snacks to try
Soft, ripe banana. Chop a small banana into slices or fist-sized chunks. This colourful and highly nutritious fruit will appeal to your baby’s sweet tooth, and she’ll easily be able to chew it with her gums.
Avocado. This superfood is packed with nutrients and healthy fats that will benefit your baby’s development, and the mild flavour is ideal for her sensitive taste buds. Make sure the avocado is ripe and soft; you can either mash it and spoon-feed it to your baby, or slice it into easy-to-hold fingers or chunks.
Rice cakes. Easy to hold, unlikely to cause allergies and reasonably mess-free, these are great for encouraging self-feeding. Buy baby brands or plain adult varieties, as some flavoured adult rice cakes contain high levels of salt and artificial flavourings.
Fromage frais. You’ll probably have to spoon-feed this to your baby, but the texture and sweetness is perfect for newly weaned tots, and will also up her calcium intake if she’s starting to drop her milk feeds.
Bread soldiers with cheese spread. A great source of calcium that little fingers can easily pick up. Keep a cloth close by – it could get messy!
Sweet potato. Cooked and cut into thin strips, like French fries, this makes a sweet and healthy snack for young babies.
Dry cereal. Perfect for honing that pincer grip, dry, sugar-free cereal like cornflakes is fun for your baby to hold and dig into. An especially good snack if you want to keep her quiet in the pushchair while out and about!