As a parent, trying to figure out what finger foods to give your baby can be pretty rough - particularly if you have a picky eater on your hands (or if you want something that you will be able to snack on too). Many first-time parents will do a ton of research for the foods that are the best or only stick to foods that can be found in the “baby” section of their local Target, but that can be expensive and, quite frankly, limiting for most people.
Luckily, the best finger foods for babies are delicious, nutritious, and easy to store in your diaper bag or stroller for those long days when you are going to be out and about.
What to Look for In Finger Foods
Before we get to the list of foods, let’s break down what criteria we used to pick from:
Portability: As a parent on the go, you know that not all foods are going to keep well. Sure, that mashed avocado is nutritious, but it gets brown quickly and doesn’t really look all that appetizing. Look for finger foods that can be easily stored in a container or bag.
Cleanliness: Particularly as babies start to gain some autonomy, they want to feed themselves. This can make quite a mess, even if you have one of those mesh chewers that claims to hold the food inside (but we all know they don’t always do that).
Safety: Of course, you want something that is safe for the baby to eat. You don’t want anything that is going to upset their tummies, pose as a choking hazard, or even set off an allergic reaction. While this will vary from child to child, there are some obvious foods to avoid.
Nutrition: Babies are growing so rapidly that it is important to feed them foods that give them the proper nutrition. You don’t want to see your baby get a sugar rush, so you need to think about what is in the food you are giving them. That piece of candy may seem like a good idea now, but it will be hard to deal with when you have a crying toddler running around.
- Taste: Of course, you want to give food to your baby that tastes good. Babies are stubborn, and if they just don’t like the taste of something, they are going to throw it on the ground, spit it out, or just cause issues that you probably don’t want to deal with.
10 Yummy Finger Foods for Babies
So, let’s take a look at some finger foods that just may become your “go-to” options. We took the above criteria into consideration and found some of the easiest snacks that you may even already have in your cabinet or fridge. These are yummy finger foods that babies are going to love to pick from - and you will be able to sample some too.
This one should be fairly easy for you - grab some dry cereal and put it into a container or baggie for an easy on-the-go snack. Puffed cereal and o-shaped cereal are often among the first finger foods that babies will try. These little bites start to break down pretty quickly, so there isn’t a lot of fear about choking, and they travel really well. You even have the option to add a bottle with some milk on the side.
For toddlers, add a cup of milk to the equation and call it “Breakfast to Go,” and they will think of it as a really fun little treat.
Noticing a breakfast trend here? That’s because most of these foods are soft and easy to transport. These are generally reserved for older babies, so you may want to talk to your doctor before you incorporate them into their meal plan - but they are great for some protein to help keep your baby full, and they are quite healthy.
Just be sure to crumble them up, and while Gordon Ramsey may like his scrambled eggs a bit runny, you’ll probably want to opt for a harder version so that they aren’t so messy.
The ultimate finger food for parents and babies is some fruit cut up into small, edible pieces. This is also a really easy snack to grab from your local grocery store or even a gas station when you are on the go. You want to pick fruits that are very soft and don’t have any seeds or pits that babies could choke on or chew up.
As children get older, they will be able to eat things like grapes or apples, but for younger kids and babies, focus on those really soft fruits like bananas, peaches, watermelon (take out the seeds!), raspberries, blueberries, honeydew, mango, and cantaloupe. Yum!
Lightly Toasted Bread
Bread is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s a great stepping stone for babies who are just starting to get the “chewing” motion down. You want to cut the lightly toasted bread into very small pieces, so they can handle it. Try to avoid giving bread that isn’t toasted because it can actually stick to the roof of their mouth or gums and cause choking.
As your baby gets older, add something to dip the bread into, like jam or some syrup, or simply top the bread with peanut butter, banana, or a dip of your choice.
Baby Cookies or Puffs
If you are on the go and need something easy that doesn’t take any prep work at all, those specialty cookies or puffs that babies love are always available. They are safe and easy to find, so you never have to worry about running out of snacks - though we have noticed that sometimes the best flavors tend to go missing for a bit.
We trash-talked them a bit, but avocados really are a great snack for babies as they are growing. They have so many omega-3 fatty acids, which help baby brains grow, making avocados a great finger food. Warning: these get messy, so we recommend putting the baby in something you don’t care about. Even a bib may not be a saving grace here!
Pasta is yummy, easy to make, and cost-effective at the same time. Slightly overcook your pasta so that it is soft. For younger babies, start with the smaller shapes like mini shells or orzo, or cut up some of the bigger shapes. For toddlers and young children, simply add in bigger shapes like bowties.
Pasta is great on its own, but throwing in some cut-up veggies for older kids who need to have a little more sustenance is a great option. Using the noodles from a macaroni and cheese box (just don’t use the cheese!) also works in a pinch!
Don’t want to eat your leftovers? Those cooked vegetables can make excellent finger foods for your baby. Use steamed or roasted veggies and cut them into very small pieces for baby. Of course, things like beets or broccoli are better for baby, but they are more likely to eat something like sweet potato, carrots, or cauliflower as their finger foods.
Once your baby starts to grow a bit, begin adding steamed carrots, wedges, and even parsnips. Wait until baby gets a little older to start with the raw foods or things that don’t taste great steamed like celery.
One of your favorite snacks is one of the best snacks for babies as well, as long as they don’t have a dairy allergy. Choose soft cheeses and cut them into really small pieces. Don’t get anything with peppers or bacon in it, as those tend to be a bit harder to digest. This is another easy on-the-go option, because finding string cheese is pretty doable almost everywhere.
Mini Muffins or Bakes
Want something homemade? Get yourself a mini muffin tray, and make some healthy muffins. While those mini muffins in a pack are awful tasty, they don’t always make your baby feel great, and they are absolutely packed with sugar. Use healthy recipes to make mini muffins with soft fruits or just corn muffins.
These may make a bit of a mess, but babies love to munch away on them, and you control what goes into them.
In Summary: Keep Introducing New Finger Foods
The best thing to do for your child is to introduce new finger foods at a fairly regular pace as long as they can handle it. Once your child ages a bit and develops a more advanced palette, simply store some of these foods in your diaper bag until they are ready to munch.
Be sure to watch your baby eating these foods a few times before you just hand them over in the stroller or even leave them for a babysitter to feed your baby. So, try to pay attention to the specific types of food that your baby likes and what they don’t like - this way, it’s easy to pack for your next on-the-go adventure, and your baby can enjoy healthy and tasty finger foods wherever you go!