Questions for Connie
Finger Foods for Toddlers

Q. I’ve heard that babies should be feeding themselves by their first birthday. What are the best finger foods to give to a one-year old?

A. Anyone who has ever fed a one-year old knows that virtually all foods fall into the finger food category! While mashed potatoes, puddings and pasta with marinara sauce make for a messy mealtime scene, it is important to allow children this age to develop self-feeding skills. As young toddlers become more comfortable with feeding themselves, parents and caregivers can introduce spoons and toddler-safe forks. Below are examples of suggested finger foods by food group. It is extremely important to avoid foods that could lodge in the throat so do not serve foods such as whole grapes, hot dog chunks, popcorn, peanut butter, nuts and hard pieces of fruit and vegetable to young toddlers, unless they are cut into very small pieces.

Grains
Whenever possible, provide the whole grain varieties of grains such as toast wedges, tortilla strips, cooked pasta, brown rice, polenta/grits, crackers, round “O” cereal, and bite-sized pieces of French toast, waffles or pancakes (no syrup needed).

Vegetables
soft, cooked bite-sized pieces of potato, sweet potato, squash, carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cooked peas; fresh tomato and avocado chunks

Fruit
peeled bite-size pieces of ripe fruit such as banana, pear, peach, plum, apricot, mango and melon; slightly mashed blueberries; canned fruits (without added sugar)

Protein
flaked tuna, cooked beans, scrambled egg chunks, small chunks of tender meat or chicken, tofu chunks

Dairy
cheese slices or small cubes of soft cheese (Hard cheese can pose a choking hazard.)

Mixed foods
bite sized pieces of family foods such as lasagna, stews, stir-fried dishes, casseroles and soups (use a slotted spoon to remove just the solid portion of a soup)

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Connie Evers, MS, RD is a registered dietitian, author and child nutrition specialist. Her website is http://nutritionforkids.com