Think of finger foods as small bits of normal-sized foods. Finger foods should be well-cooked so they will be soft on baby’s sensitive gums. Try to buy fresh, local, and organic produce. If you notice your baby having trouble because the food is too slippery, help him get a hold by rolling it in toasted (not raw) wheat germ, or in oatmeal ground into powder in the blender, or in the “dust” left at the bottom of Whole grain “o” shaped cereal boxes. Don’t allow your baby to get frustrated by allowing her to attempt tasks that are above her skill level.
Clean and cook vegetables until they are soft and cut into small pieces no larger than a Cheerio. Tiny broccoli florets and cooked, mashed sweet potato rolled into Cheerio-sized balls are Super Foods for baby. Sprinkle spices and minced herbs into the mashed veggies to add a host of nutritious phytonutrients (plant nutrients). Do not use imported spices as they may contain heavy metals. Start with cinnamon, parsley, turmeric, cumin, etc. Do not buy imported spices, as they may be contaminated with heavy metals. One safe, ethical, and organic brand of spices is Frontier, which you can find in natural foods stores. Be careful not to give babies and young children the hot spices – hot peppers, cayenne, etc. Babies’ mouths are much more sensitive than ours.
Make finger foods by cutting up soft pieces of peeled and cored fruits into bite-sized pieces: banana, avocado, apples, pears, kiwi, peaches, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, pomegranate and cucumbers with seeds removed. Be sure to buy organic, especially those fruits considered by the Environmental Working Group as “the Dirty Dozen.” Search their website (www.ewg.org) for “US: high pesticide level marks `Dirty Dozen’ fruits, vegetables.”
We probably all know what raw kernels of brown rice look like—yes, the plain brown rice in the one-pound plastic bag on the supermarket shelf next to the lentils and beans. But perhaps some of us are not yet familiar with the many other organic whole grains available at your local natural foods store. Just as your baby should be introduced to a variety of vegetables and fruits, she should also be introduced to a variety of whole grains, such as quinoa, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, oat groats, popcorn, rye, spelt, and, of course, brown rice.
They are easy to cook: put one cup of whole wheat kernels into two or three cups of boiling water. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 20-45 minutes, depending on the grain. For example, to cook brown rice, boil two cups of water, measure in one cup of raw brown rice, turn the heat to low, cover and let simmer on low for 30 minutes. Complete instructions can be found in cookbooks on the subject of whole grains at your local library, or search the internet. The Super Baby Food book has complete instructions on the many ways you can feed your baby the cooled, cooked whole grains.
Whole grain “o” shaped cereal seems to be the staple of finger foods for babies for decades. You may want to look for similar O-sized boxed cereals at your local natural foods store that are organic and unsweetened. Whole grain, organic pasta is also available at natural foods stores. Cook and cut into Cheerio-sized pieces for finger foods.
Coming up…more Finger Foods starring Proteins, Dairy and Omega-3 Healthy Fats