First Finger Foods to Feed Your Baby

AllisonMS, RDN, CDN

Read time: 5 minutes

What to know about feeding your baby finger foods

  • What age should your baby start eating finger foods?

  • What is a finger food?

  • Finger foods to introduce to your baby

Once baby has accepted purees, many parents wonder exactly how and when to advance to more textured foods as a transition to finger foods.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solids at about 6 months.13 By the time they are 7 to 9 months old, your child can be eating a variety of foods and textures.14 But these guidelines still leave a lot of questions.

Transitioning to more advanced textures as soon as your little one is ready is an important milestone. In fact, research indicates that waiting beyond 9 months to progress to lumpier foods may lead to picky eating or even rejection of textures that are not pureed.5,6,7

Read on to learn how and when to start introducing more textures and finger foods, to your baby.

Learn more:

Introducing Solids: First Foods and Advancing Textures

Meal Plan for 6- to 9-Month-Old Baby

Introducing Solids: Purees versus Baby Led Weaning

When should I start moving away from purees and introducing more textures to my baby?

As soon as your baby can tolerate purees and is eating them well, begin to introduce lumpy mashes.

At first, your little one might reject this new texture, but continue to offer lumpy mashes so that your child gets used to moving them around their mouth and mashing them with their tongue.

These are very important movements to master before advancing to finger foods.

At first, start with very few lumps and as your baby gets used to this new texture, leave more and more small, soft lumps.

Once lumpy mashes are well accepted, it will soon be time to move on to finger foods!

Example: How to make apple or sweet potato into a lumpy mash rather than a puree.

Instead of steaming peeled apple slices and then blending, steam then gently mash so that small lumps are in the mix. Or rather than offering pureed sweet potato, roast sweet potato and then gently mash it into a lumpy mash.

When can my baby start eating finger foods?

For most babies, once they can sit up unsupported and bring their hands or other objects to their mouth, you can start offering soft finger foods to help them learn how to self-feed.2

At first, your little one may not know what to do with the food you place before them, and there may be more mess and playing than eating happening, but this is all part of the learning process.9

As they watch you role model eating, they’ll begin grabbing foods and moving them toward their mouth. Slowly their skills in self-feeding will improve.

Feel free to offer a combination of lumpy purees that you feed your little one while they start to feed themself soft solids. This way your baby can play with and learn about the soft solids while also still eating the lumpy mashed foods they’re used to.

Once your little one can eat full meals by themself, you can stop offering most purees and mashes.

Be sure to discuss your plan to start solids, including soft finger foods, with your child’s pediatrician.

Learn about:

Teaching your Baby to Self-Feed

Introducing Solids: Baby Led Weaning

How do I prepare baby’s first finger foods?

Finger foods are small pieces of soft food that your baby can pick up and bring to their mouth.

Many professionals recommend starting with very soft, finely-chopped or ground foods; or soft pea-sized or thinly sliced pieces of food.1,9

Any soft solid offered to your baby should be squishable between your fingers. This will ensure that your baby can mash it with their gums and tongue before swallowing.3,9

Progression to slightly larger pieces can happen as baby’s skills for eating soft finger foods improve, with pieces no bigger than half an inch.9

If your little one has not yet developed their pincer grasp (holding food between their index and thumb), some professionals recommend cutting soft solids into thin strips that your little one can grasp in their fist.10

Which finger foods should be avoided?

Avoid choking hazards such as:

Round and/or firm foods like raw vegetables and raw hard fruits, whole grapes, and cherry tomatoes, berries, raisins, whole pieces of canned fruit, hot dogs, candy, peanuts, and popcorn.

Avoid chewy, sticky foods such as:

Marshmallows, chewy fruit snacks, and chunks or spoonfuls of nut butters.4

Note that cutting grapes cut into quarters, and berries in half or quarters, helps make them safer to offer your child once they are ready for this texture.

Read about: Preventing Choking in Infants and Toddlers

Best first finger foods to introduce to your baby

The goal of eating within the first year is to introduce lots of flavors and textures to help your child turn into an adventurous, competent eater.

Be sure to continue offering lots of vegetables and fruit (aim for 2 servings per day) for the first year and beyond.

A list of first finger foods:


Pea-sized pieces of cooked or very ripe soft fruit without the peel, skin, or seeds

  • Banana, pear, avocado, peach, kiwi, mango, microwaved or baked thin apple slices or pea-sized pieces cooked until soft, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, peach, plum, nectarine.


Pea-sized soft, cooked vegetables

  • Sweet potato, potato, carrots, squash, pumpkin, peas (slightly smushed between your fingers to break the skin), broccoli, zucchini, green beans, cauliflower.


Well-cooked finely chopped or ground meat, poultry, and fish; and pea-sized plant-based proteins

  • Ground or shredded beef, chicken, or turkey; flaky deboned fish*, scrambled egg pieces*

  • Sauteed or steamed tofu cubes*; cooked, slightly smushed beans (to break the skin)


Shredded, crumbled, or pea-sized dairy*

  • Shredded cheese, soft crumbled pasteurized goat cheese, pea-sized cubes of mozzarella, low sodium cottage cheese

  • Well-cooked, chopped, or pea-sized cubes of grains

  • Well-cooked pasta cut into small pieces, rice, quinoa, polenta, fine grits

*If you are concerned about allergies, or your child has been diagnosed with allergies, be sure to talk with your child’s healthcare provider before trialing these foods.

The top 9 allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, and sesame seeds.

Read more:

Family Meals: Developing Healthy Eating Patterns

How can I get my Baby to Love Veggies?

Introducing Major Food Allergens to Your Infant

Advanced finger foods for 9-12 month olds

Once your little one is doing well with soft finger foods and is eating a wide variety of foods, they can begin eating more table foods and combination foods.

Remember that the food you offer should still be smushable between your fingers since your child’s chewing and mashing abilities are still developing.

Feel free to use plenty herbs and spices for seasoning! But be aware of keeping added salt and sugar to a minimum.11

At this point, your child may be ready to have slightly larger pieces of soft foods, though it is recommended that the pieces be no larger than half an inch for safety.9

You know your baby best, so advance to larger pieces only when your child is ready, and always provide foods in the texture and size that your little one is able to handle and eat without difficulty.

Finger food ideas for older babies:
  • Mac and cheese

  • Whole grain pasta tubes with ground meat sauce

  • French toast, pancake, or waffle pieces with pureed fruit on top

  • Pieces of grilled cheese sandwich

  • Pieces of flour tortilla with hummus or mashed beans

  • Quinoa patties

  • Hard-boiled egg pieces

  • Whole grain toast pieces with a thin coat of nut butter or avocado

  • Fish sticks with dipping sauce (ensure the ‘sticks’ are thin enough for your child)

  • Baby puffs

  • Baby biscuits/teethers

  • Steamed or roasted vegetables cut into small pieces: broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans, eggplant (no skin), asparagus.

  • Fruits such as apple pieces steamed until tender (no skin), cut up pieces of orange and clementine segments with the membrane removed

  • Berries that are halved or quartered

  • Oat cereal pieces

Learn more:

Healthy Snacks For Babies and Toddlers

Happy Family Infant and Toddler Nutrition Guide

Finger food recipes to try with your infant

Here are some fun and delicious recipes to try once your little one is ready for finger foods!

As always, offer these foods in a size and texture that is best suited for your little one’s eating abilities.

Silver Dollar Pancake Recipe

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Whole Grain Pumpkin Waffle Sticks

Baked Seasoned Chicken Tenders & Sweet Potatoes

Crispy Herb Salmon Bites With Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower

Baked Seasoned Tofu

Safety tips for feeding your baby

While we may just think about the texture and size of a food when it comes to food safety, there are other important factors to consider as well.

  • Always observe your child while they eat

  • Have your child seated and upright while they eat

  • Check the temperature of the food before you offer it to your child

  • Always chat with your child’s pediatrician before introducing food allergens1,12

Read more: Food Safety for Babies and Toddlers

Let’s Chat!

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Our Happy Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles

Helping Your Child Build a Taste for Healthy Foods

Understanding your Child’s Hunger and Fullness Cues: Responsive Feeding

The Division of Responsibility: Helping Avoid Picky Eating

Healthy Snacks for Babies and Toddlers