Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Great First Finger Foods!

As a mom and a Dietitian, I frequently get asked what are great first finger foods when introducing solids to their little ones.  I have come up with a list of delicious and easy finger foods for those little experimental eaters!  I know that there is a lot of concern regarding food allergies and the timing of food introduction, so when in doubt, trust your inner gut and always consult with your Pediatrician.  Also check out this site endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics site as well this great site.

Here is my list of great first finger foods:
1.  Multi-grain Cheerios or other O shaped cereal
2.  Soft, ripe, cubed banana pieces
3.  Diced, ripe avocado
4.  Diced, cooked sweet potatoes/white potatoes/butternut squash/acorn squash (steam or bake but don't boil)
5.  Soft, shredded chicken, white fish (low mercury fish like tilapia), beef or turkey
6.  Very ripe, peeled Peaches or Pears
7.  Small cubes Tofu
8.  Scrambled or Hard Boiled Egg -give the whites after 8 months of age and the yolks after 12 months of age; according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is not enough evidence to show that avoiding eggs at an early age will prevent a food allergy.  But when in doubt, discuss this with your Pediatrician.  Also refer to this site:
9.  Small cooked pasta (Ditalini, Orzo, Elbow macaroni, Israeli Couscous, etc)
10. Plain Graham Crackers - break into small pieces (not HONEY grahams especially to babies under 12 months of age)
11. Shredded Cheese - cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, etc.
12. Cooked Peas and Corn - steam (do not boil)
13. Cooked Lentils
14. Cooked Carrot Slices or Rounds
15.  Whole Wheat Tortilla - soft; tear into small pieces
16. Small bites of ripe Mango
17. Small dices of melon
18. Squished/quartered/halved Blueberries (depending on the size of the berry)
19. Steamed broccoli, finely chopped
20. Shredded apple or carrots, using coarse grater
21. Boccacini, cut into small pieces
22. Small spoonfuls of my favorite Bolognese sauce

Some tips - cook your chicken (or other meat) with veggies in a crockpot.  This will yield in super soft veggies and moist, delicious chicken (or meat).  You can also experiment with seasonings and herbs - just pass on the salt! I have a vegetable steamer that I bought from Pamper Chef many, many years ago and I love using that to steam my fruits and veggies.  I also loved mixing things up to create new dishes - try mixing flaked white fish with cream cheese and brown rice or couscous, deconstructed mac and cheese (pasta with shredded cheese), fruit and veggie salad (small bites of assorted fruits and veggies), etc.  Be creative with your combo's - your kid is bound to like something you offer!

These are all foods that I have tried with my three kids and I have to say that I have very adventurous eaters thanks to a start of varied foods, textures and tastes.  Remember to keep in mind that a child may reject a food but keep introducing him/her to it - it can take up to 15 rejections before a child really decides whether he/she likes it or not.  I hope that you find this list helpful and don't be shy when introducing new foods! Enjoy...