Baby's first solids: how to make the transition to 'finger foods'
ASK THE EXPERT
Q: "What finger foods should I first try my baby on, when should I introduce them, and what's the best way to keep the resulting mess to a minimum?"
A: Paediatric feeding specialist Melanie Potock, co-author with Nancy Ripton of Baby Self-Feeding (Fair Winds Press, £16.99, available now), says: "Babies can begin to grasp and explore soft pieces of roasted vegetables when cut into strips about the size of an adult little finger. Other options include strips of avocado, steamed and skinned peaches or soft baked apple.
"We love babies to get messy from a sensory standpoint – messy hands and faces send signals to the brain that tells baby what those same foods will feel like inside the mouth and plays an important role in feeding development.
"When parents need to keep the mess to a minimum, we recommend placing first foods in a silicone food feeder. The silicone pouch holds the squishable foods while tiny tastes squeeze through tiny holes in the feeder as baby gnaws on the pouch.
"When cleaning up any mess, use firm pats with a warm, damp washcloth. Swiping with a rag or using light touch is upsetting to the nervous system, and babies find light touch unpleasant.
"We want the entire feeding experience to be positive. Introduce finger foods as early as six months of age if baby is sitting up relatively well on his own and shows an interest in foods.
"Signs that he'd like to explore food include reaching for the food, vocalising, eager facial expressions and opening his mouth while leaning toward the food."