Food served in such a form and style that it can conveniently be eaten with the fingers

Ask anything about fingerfoods

When can you start giving Finger Foods to your baby?

Any bite-size, easy-to-eat pieces of food that your baby can easily pick up and eat on his own can be described as finger food. Eating finger food is fun for your baby, and an important step towards independence that also helps him develop his fine motor skills and coordination. When you can introduce finger foods to your baby? When your baby is between 8 and 9 months old, she'll probably let you know that she's ready to start feeding herself by grabbing the spoon you're feeding her with or snatching food off your plate. How should you introduce finger foods to your baby? Simply scatter four or five pieces of finger food onto your baby's highchair tray or an unbreakable plate. You can add more pieces of food as your baby eats them. Feeding your baby in a highchair rather than in a car seat or stroller will reduce the risk of choking and teach him that a highchair is the place to eat. Which foods make the best finger foods? When choosing the best finger foods for baby—whether you’re starting at 6 months or 9 months—experts suggest that it’s best to begin with small pieces of soft food that dissolve easily. Your baby may have a good appetite, but she probably doesn't have many teeth, so start with foods that she can chew or that will dissolve easily in her mouth. As she grows into a toddler, you'll be able to give her bite-size pieces of whatever you're eating. Remember that your baby is learning about food's texture, color, and aroma as she feeds herself, so try to offer her a variety. Resist the temptation to give your baby sweets like cookies and cake or high-fat snacks like cheese puffs and chips. Your baby needs nutrient-rich foods now, not empty calories. Here's a list of finger food favourites: Small pieces of lightly toasted bread or bagels (spread with vegetable puree for extra vitamins) Small chunks of banana or other very ripe peeled and pitted fruit, like mango, plum, pear, peach, or seedless watermelon Well-cooked pasta spirals, cut into pieces Very small chunks of soft cheese Chopped hard-boiled egg Small pieces of well-cooked vegetables, like carrots, peas, potato, or sweet potato Small well-cooked broccoli or cauliflower "trees" Pea-size pieces of cooked chicken, ground beef or turkey, or other soft meat   Content source Featured image source    

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FAQ: Introducing your baby to solid foods

Introducing solid food to your child is a big step ahead in their growth chart. A lot of mothers, whether new or old, have a lot of questions revolving around this crucial step forward in their child’s life. We made a list of some of the questions, after studying the primary questions posed by mothers to their pediatricians, their own mothers, fellow-mothers or on group threads, social media, and discussion boards, and answered them. When should I introduce solid foods to my child? Ideally, six months is the right age to introduce a baby to solid foods. Before this, you might notice your child not allowing the spoon to enter their mouth or their inability to swallow solid food. Additionally, initiating solid food too early also reduces the production of breast milk, if you are breastfeeding the child. Introducing food before this age might also increase their chances of developing a food allergy or becoming obese. Though, this is an ideal time to start solid food, each child is different and would give you the clues as to when they are ready to start solid food. These signs would include the following: The baby can grab and reach for objects. The baby shows interest in food and tries to reach for the food you eat. The baby can sit straight independently. This is the biggest indicator that they would have lost their tongue-thrusting reflex. The baby has an increased appetite where their milk times have increased or you notice them taking in more milk than their usual at a mealtime. Look out for these clues before you introduce solid food to them. Why does a baby need solid food at six-months? By the time the bay reaches six months of age, they have used up their stores of essential nutrients that they were born with. Now, to grow further they need essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals, like iron and zinc, which solid food can provide them easily. By this time, their digestive system would be ready for solid food. This would be demonstrated by the fact that the baby’s hunger is not satisfied by breast or formula milk alone. This is also the right time to introduce allergy foods. Further, familiarizing them to solid food is the first step in making them independent for their forthcoming life. How often should I give my child solid food? In order to get your child used to the idea of eating, schedule a breakfast, lunch and dinner time for them. Even if they are not hungry, do sit them down with a tablespoon of whatever you have planned for them. This would get them used to the idea of a mealtime and also help them fall into a schedule for the day. You would notice that most six-month olds would be comfortable eating just once a day. And as the majority of their nutrition comes from breast or formula milk, it is all right if they do so. As your child grows, they would slowly get used to the idea of eating regularly and would develop a routine of eating three meals a day along with the family. My baby appears to be not interested in solid foods. Should I force them to eat? No. Never force your child to eat. This will only make them averse to food. In fact, if you feel that even after trying for a sufficient amount of time, they are not interested in eating anything, get them out of the high chair or any other chair that you use for feeding and move on to the next scheduled activity. Further, at times, the first feed is a little strange for the child, so they might not be able to accept it. As it has a different texture, smell and taste, they just might end up spitting out the whole thing. But don’t worry. Remove the food from their vicinity and try again the next day. Just like at times we do not want to eat, babies also might not want to eat. Moreover, they are yet to fall in a habit so it’s all right if they skip a meal. What should be the size of the meals that I offer my child? At four to six months, feed the child between two to four tablespoon of the planned meal. Remember, their meal intake might change from meal to meal and from day to day. So don’t get worried if one day your baby is eating four tablespoons of food and the next day, they are eating just three. Also, as the child gets used to eating, their appetite will increase naturally. As this happens, increase the amount of food by a half-a-tablespoon till you feel that they are feeling full. What is the best way of feeding a six-month old baby? When you are about to feed your child, turn off the television and any loud music. Wash the baby’s and your hands so that they know that it is mealtime. Reducing other stimuli from the environment will help your child recognize the flavours in the food and also understand how their body reacts to food. They would be consciously aware of when they are full and would give you a clue to that. Which foods should I first introduce my baby to? Though every family might have a different tradition as far as the first solid feed of the child is concerned, even science does not follow any hard and fast rules. However, there are a few suggestions which seem to work well for the babies. These include single-grain cereals and boiled or pureed fruits and vegetables. Single-grain cereals can be initially prepared in the ratio of one teaspoon of cereal with 5 teaspoons of breast or formula milk. Once the child is used to this, the cereal can be gradually thickened. Fruits like bananas can be mashed, whereas apples can be par-boiled to soften them a little. Use brightly coloured fruits and vegetables as these are nutrient-dense and the colours appeal to the child. By the time your child reaches the age of nine to 12 months, they can be introduced to raw fruits and vegetables. Other suggestions include mashed potatoes, well-cooked rice or pulses, whole wheat biscuits, bread fingers and rusks. Full-fat yoghurt, cheese and custard can also be tried. Ensure that the first foods that are introduced to a child are fortified with iron or are iron-rich foods. This is because, the child has finished its iron reserves and needs extra iron to grow and avoid being anemic. Additionally, once the child starts taking solid or semi-solid food, they stop absorbing iron from the breast or formula milk. Should I use only boiled food at this stage? Depending on the type of food you are offering the child and the presence of teeth, boil, puree, chop or grind the food, fruits and/or vegetables. You can prepare clear soups or use vegetable stock to prepare their food. As the child gets used to swallowing semi-solid food, move to finger foods like French fries or a slice of boiled potato. The child can hold this in their hands, while getting used to its taste and texture. Be prepared for a mess as babies love to throw their food around and the hand-eye-brain coordination that the child needs to place the food in their mouth is still not fully developed. What kind of food should be avoided? Any food that is too hard, like a carrot stick, should be avoided. Further, small, hard foods, like grapes, hard candies, small pieces of toast, etc.should be avoided. If not given in the appropriate manner, these types of foods can choke the child. Other foods that come with a choking hazard include peanuts, nuts, popcorn and nut butter. Also avoid honey before one year of age as it can cause infant botulism, which may prove fatal. Additionally, do not give highly spiced or greasy foods. Further, cow’s or any other animal’s milk as a drink should be avoided until 12 months of age. Also avoid coffee, tea, and artificially sweetened drinks and juices. Try not to give any plant-based milk, like soy, almond or rice milk, till one year of age. However, these can be used to cook their food in from six months onwards. Do not give spinach, carrots, beans and beetroot to babies less than 6 months of age as these have enough nitrates to cause a blood disorder called methemoglobinemia. Aren’t juices healthy? Well, not as healthy as whole fruits. Juices cannot be considered as a part of a baby’s diet. Too much juice may contribute to weight problems and lead to diarrhea. Moreover, it hinders the appetite of the child. Sipping on juice the entire day or just before bed can lead to tooth decay. If you have to give your baby fruit juice, then ensure that it is 100 percent fruit juice with no artificial sweetening, and that you do not serve more than 120 to 170 ml of it in a day to your child. What are the other ways in which I can encourage my child to eat? A lot of children need stimulation other than that provided at the mealtime. This can be offered in the form of stories based on fruits and vegetables, showing them pictures of different foods and talking to them about the benefits of consuming a particular food, even if they do not comprehend what you are saying. Should I put cereal in my baby’s milk bottle? No. Putting cereal in the baby’s milk bottle will not enable them to learn the difference between solid and liquid foods. Feeding them seated and from a bowl/plate and a spoon, just like adults do, helps them learn about taking bites of food, moving it around in their mouth for either chewing or swallowing, rest between bites and the sensation of having had their fill. All these things help the babies develop healthy eating habits. How soon should I introduce new foods to the baby? You should wait for at least five to six days between introducing new foods to your baby. This allows you to watch out for allergic reactions to any food and also gives the baby time to get used to the flavor and feel of the new food. My baby appears to be constipated since I introduced solid foods? What should I do? Now that your baby is eating solid foods, they are getting more fiber than what they were used to. To help move the fiber around and digest it, they also need more water. Further, foods like cereal and fruits like bananas cause constipation. So to avoid this, it is important to introduce children to water at this stage. Use boiled water to minimize the chances of water-borne infections. If your pediatrician has still not given you a green flag for water, then ask if you can use diluted pear or any other juice to change the stool’s consistency. How can I ascertain that my child is allergic to some kind of food? If you notice that your baby vomits, has loose motions and stomach ache, develops a rash or swollen lips and eyes, or has any other adverse reaction or changes that you have not noticed before, then they might be having an allergic reaction. However, irritation around the anus does not mean that the baby has an allergic reaction to a food. Another good indication of an allergic reaction would be the stool. If the stool has mucus, is loose and watery, then it means that their intestinal tract is getting irritated. Try removing the latest introduced food to improve symptoms. If there is no symptomatic relief, then you must visit a doctor. Will my baby’s stool change once I introduce them to solid foods? Yes. Your baby’s stool will change once you introduce them to solid foods. It would become firmer and would have an odour. As some foods are hard to digest, you might see them as it is in the diaper. These would include things like peas, corn and tomato peels. What are the other things that I should keep in mind when feeding my child solid food? Wash your baby’s and your hands every time before a meal. Check the temperature of the food before you feed it to them. Ensure that you wash your baby’s hand, only when the food has cooled down enough to be fed to the child. Making the baby wait after building the anticipation is too much for them. The baby is going to push the food around, creating a mess of it. Be prepared for this and don’t fret as this is the natural process of learning to eat. Should solid food replace breast or formula milk? Not at all. Solid foods at six months are not meant to replace breast or formula milk but only complement it. It is the first step in introducing them to new textures and getting them used to experimenting, exploring and building on new experiences. Breast or formula milk remains the baby’s primary source of nutrition till about the end of the first year. Should I breast or formula feed before or after the solid food meal? This depends on the goal of breast and formula feeding. Usually, in the first year, the goal is to supplement breast or formula milk with solid food. In this condition, it is important to feed the child breast or formula milk an hour before the solid intake. This way ensures that the primary source of nutrition is the breast or formula milk and that the mother’s production of breast milk does not recede. Understand that the amount of breast or formula milk ideally remains the same and the increasing appetite of the child is satiated with the help of solid food on top of the breast or formula milk. How can I tell when the baby is full? Babies have their own way of communicating that they are full. They may turn their head away, bat at the spoon, refuse to open their mouth, is more interested in throwing away the spoon and the food as a way to play with it, or leans back in their chair. Look for the cues and you will soon understand their language and do things accordingly.

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7 Signs your little one is teething

Most babies begin to teethe between the age of 4-7 months but some babies begin much later. The signs aren’t the same for every baby. Teething can be painful process for many babies, while for some it is quite effortless. The teething process doesn’t usually make babies sick. If your baby gets diarrhoea, vomiting, rashes on the body, higher fever, or cough, call your doctor immediately. These aren’t normal signs of teething. Here we provide you some important signs of teething that every mother should know: 1. Biting more than usual: This teething symptom will turn your baby into a vampire. Bite, bite, bite on anything from plastic spoons, to toys, to your breast. During this phase you may give the baby teething toys which may prove helpful and make the process easier. 2. Excessive drool: When babies are still new-borns, they’re still learning how to swallow their saliva—this causes excessive drooling. Fast forward to teething, and the drooling starts again (or never stops in some cases). When baby is teething, the body creates extra saliva to lubricate the tender and bulging gums. 3. Fussier than usual, especially at night: These teething symptoms make babies who once slept through the night start to wake up several times for comfort. In the quiet hours of night, a baby often feels the teething pain more because there are fewer distractions. 4. Disturbances in sleep patterns: Because of teething discomfort, babies will usually nap less and wake up earlier in the morning. Fun times for all involved with these teething symptoms. 5. Fever, rashes, cough, and diarrhoea: Although some doctors disagree, many mothers detect a slight fever (under 100 degrees) in their babies when teeth are imminent. Additionally, the extra drool can cause facial rashes, chafing, and coughing, since it pools at the back of the throat. Some babies even develop diaper rash and diarrhoea. 6. Decreased appetite: When babies are in pain, they generally don’t want to eat, especially since it triggers their sore spots. Keep trying to feed them as much as possible, despite the resistance. 7. Pulling of ears and rubbing of chin and cheeks: Babies can be quite resourceful and administer self-massage. By pulling and rubbing around their jaw, they create counter pressure that eases some of the pain and throbbing.   Content source Featured image source  

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Is baby ready for solid foods? (Developmental signs of readiness)

What do the experts say? Health experts and breastfeeding experts agree that it’s best to wait until your baby is around six months old before offering solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and many other health organizations recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or other foods) for the first 6 months of life.  I’m not going into the many health benefits of delaying solids here; see When Should Baby Start Solids? for more information. Developmental signs that baby is ready for solids Solids readiness depends on both the maturity of baby’s digestive tract and baby’s developmental readiness for solids. Although the maturity of baby’s digestive system is not something that we can readily observe, research indicates that 6 months appears to be ideal for avoiding increased illness and other health risks of too-early solids. After this point, different babies are ready for solids at different times — developmental readiness for solids cannot be determined using a calendar. Most babies are developmentally ready for solids somewhere between 6 and 8 months. . Signs that indicate baby is developmentally ready for solids include: Baby can sit up well without support. Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue. Baby is ready and willing to chew. Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development. Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.  

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