Do Babies Need Teeth for Finger Foods?

Parents often ask me:

“My baby doesn’t have any teeth yet. Can I give her finger foods?”

The short answer is: Yes!

You don’t need to wait until babies have teeth before offering them finger foods. It’s amazing to watch what little ones can handle with their gums.

Your baby is likely ready for finger foods when you see the following:

  • She can bring food to her mouth using her hand.
  • He can eat thicker purees (the consistency of mashed potatoes).
  • She can sit upright with minimal support.
  • He is very interested in watching people eat and the food on your plate. He may even be grabbing for people’s food, plates, cups etc.

I am grateful for the Baby Led Weaning (BLW) movement for helping spread awareness that babies can be fed finger foods from the very start, i.e. before they have teeth.

If you are choosing to start your baby on purees, I recommend adding finger foods so that your baby is getting a combination of puree and finger foods by about 7 months.

Here’s why I recommend introducing finger foods at this early age. Babies this age are at a developmental stage where they are keen to try new foods. Take advantage of this window of opportunity to introduce as wide a variety of tastes and textures as you can. Very soon, babies enter the developmental stage where they become pickier eaters. Then it becomes much more difficult to introduce new textures. I most commonly see babies enter this pickier stage at about 12 months. But I do see it as early as 9 months.  

What finger foods can you offer babies without teeth? Softer family foods cut into pieces that avoid choking hazards. Teefies and Pat-A-Cakes are great Love Child Organic products for this age. And, from 9 months onwards, Toodle-o’s and Love Ducks.

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps moms and dads support your picky kids to get good nutrition today, and instill a lifelong love of healthy eating. Find out more:

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