Safe Foods For Your Baby

Safe foods for your growing baby, such as finger foods to offer and finger foods to stay away from.

Just like every other phase of your infant's development, the introduction of solid food and finger food is very important. This phase of development helps your child learn how to grip small objects between their thumb and index finger. Not only that, but it also teaches them hand to mouth coordination. Chewing these new foods is also important during the learning process because it helps them develop their facial muscles necessary for speaking.

While the introduction of finger foods is a fun and exciting adventure, it can also be hazardous if the proper precautions are not taken. It is extremely important to stay with your child in full view while they are learning how to eat these foods. Despite what many believe, you may not be able to hear your child choking.

Along with the wide variety of finger foods you can choose from to introduce to your child, there is also a wide variety to stay away from. Believe it or not, well-intentioned family members and friends will try introducing foods to your child that they may or may not be ready for. Expect to hear things said like, "It never hurt you when I fed you this way," or "I used to give this kind of food to "˜so and so' all the time and they turned out just fine." (Thank goodness!) Don't listen to them. Deep down you know letting them influence you is not the right decision.

With parental supervision (and, perhaps, the advice given by your child's health care provider), when your child is between the ages of six and nine months of age they may be ready, but not limited to the following finger foods:

- hard toast

- melba toast

- cooked vegetable strips

- cooked fruits

- bagels

- crispy unsalted crackers

- zwieback cookies

- plain rice cakes

- small pieces of plain pancake

- chunks of banana

Remember that all babies develop at different rates. A good way to determine if your child is ready for finger foods yet is if they are attempting to pick small objects up with their thumb and index finger. Don't give in to such remarks as, "You really should be at this stage with your baby by now," or, "Why isn't your child doing "˜this or that' yet?" Your baby will let you know when they are ready for a little encouragement.

As mentioned before in this article, there are also foods you really should avoid introducing until your child's molars have come in. These foods include, but are not limited to the following:

- berries

- grapes (unless they are peeled, quartered and the seeds are removed)

- nuts

- adult dry cereals

- hot dogs or other meat chunks

- pretzels

- hard candy or suckers

- raw peas

- raw carrots

- raisins

- whole kernel corn

- chips

- popcorn

- globs of peanut butter

- honey*

* A note about honey: physicians recommend not introducing this food to your child at all until they are beyond one year of age. Health risks have been reported in relation to the introduction of honey to children less than one year of age as being a genuine hazard. These hazards include the possibility of contracting botulism, an acute paralytic disease caused by botulin especially in food, as defined in the dictionary, and other health problems. Do not let anyone, well-intentioned or not, talk you into believing it is safe to dip a pacifier, bottle nipple or cookie into honey without the possibility of causing some real harm to your child's health.

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