Let your little one feed themselves with a healthy snack or meal
Whether you want finger foods for your baby's snacks or for meals, you have an array of options to choose from that are as close as your own cupboards or your grocery shelves. Keep your focus on both health and safety whether you cut foods into bite -size pieces or buy foods small enough for your baby to grab and gobble. There's no need to spend hours that you don't have to prepare special foods for your baby. A sharp knife for chopping food and a few extra minutes cooking are all it takes to incorporate the foods your family already eats into your baby's diet.
Let your baby control the amount of food he eats so both of you can recognize the signs that he is full or still hungry. Early self-feeding habits set the stage for eating habits later in life.
An array of dry cereal in a small cup or simply strewed on the highchair tray give you an easy and healthy way to satisfy baby's hunger, and the morsels are easy for your baby to pick up. Go for a low-sugar cereal to keep it nutritious. Dry cereals work well as snacks or as something to occupy your baby with while you finish cooking the rest of the meal.
Breads and Crackers
You probably already have bread and crackers in your pantry that will satisfy your baby with a few modifications. Toast the bread before tearing it into bit-size pieces, because soft bread can sometimes form large clumps and become a chocking hazard for babies. Choose crackers that flake and melt easily in the mouth, and break them up before serving them to your baby.
Bananas, watermelon or ripe and soft nectarines or peaches allow your baby to easily mash the small pieces that you cut with her gums. Other fruits, such as apples and harder peaches and nectarines need slightly more work before they become soft enough. Simmer harder fruits in a small amount of water, on the stovetop for 5 or 10 minutes until they become easily mashable. Or, give your baby canned, unsweetened cooked fruit such as peaches or pears that are already cooked.
Because most vegetables are hard and present a chocking hazard to babies, you need to simmer or steam them before serving. Give your baby whatever vegetable the rest of the family is having. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, zucchini, green beans or peas all work, but make sure that baby's veggies are well-cooked, probably for longer than the rest of your family's vegetables, and that they are cut into small pieces.
Introduce vegetables one at a time into your baby's diet and reintroduce them 10 or more times if your baby initially rejects one vegetable or another.
Most meats can't be gummed in the mouth and don't melt, so cutting them into very small pieces is essential. Choose whatever meats the rest of the family eats, and either chop pieces into a paste-like consistency or cut them into very small and easily swallowed pieces. Ground meats, like hamburger, or thinly sliced deli meats torn into small strands also work, but serve these sparingly to minimize the salt and nitrates that most of these meats contain.
Naturally Soft Foods
Some foods offer the soft and mashable quality you're looking for. Well-cooked pasta, cottage cheese, small pieces of tofu and soft cheese like ricotta fall into this category. As with any food, you still need to cut or tear these foods into bite-size pieces. Although they will look unappetizing smeared over the highchair tray, cooked cereal, such as oatmeal, or mashed beans also work as finger foods.
Avoid foods that increase the risk of chocking in babies and toddlers. Avoid whole grapes or berries, whole hot dogs or sausages, dried fruit, peanut butter and other nut butters, snack foods like popcorn or pretzels or marshmallows.