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Top 100 Finger Foods

100 Recipes for a Healthy, Happy Child

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Following up on her hit bestseller Top 100 Baby Purees, British media star and Today show favorite Annabel Karmel presents Top 100 Finger Foods, a scrumptious guide to creating tasty tidbits that young children can really sink their teeth (or gums!) into.

By the age of nine months, many babies are ready and eager to start feeding themselves. Although they might not be able to handle a spoon, children of this age can master the art of eating on their own—as long as the food they’re served is right-sized! Finger foods are the perfect solution.

Featuring quick and easy recipes that are just as nutritious as they are delicious, Top 100 Finger Foods gives busy parents the tools they need to create snacks and meals that will keep kids from going into meltdown mode—and that even give their bossy toddlers an all-important sense of power and control. The recipes in this collection include sweet corn pancakes; sticky soy drumsticks; Teriyaki Salmon; muffins made of natural, healthy choices like pineapple, carrot, and coconut; fresh fruit ice pops; and much, much more.

Loaded with simple instructions and mouth-watering photographs, Top 100 Finger Foods is the ideal source for making mealtime fun and productive, and creating healthy, happy, and contented children.

Top 100 Finger Foods Introduction First Finger Foods
Until now, feeding your baby has been your job, but at around 8 or 9 months old, your little one will start to want to do this on his own. Quite often, babies are determined to feed themselves before they have the level of coordination required to use a spoon. This is an age when children experiment with their food, and if you are the type of person who likes everything neat and tidy, you are going to have to draw a deep breath, as your child will want to play with his or her food. Children are going to want to touch, hold, drop, and, occasionally, throw their food.

Finger foods are about to become an increasingly important part of your baby’s diet, and the more you allow your child to experiment, the more quickly he will learn to feed himself. Don’t be concerned if your child ends up wearing most of his food. At this early stage, it’s simply practice. But do keep offering finger foods and more lumpy textures, as these will help refine your baby’s chewing technique, which in turn helps with speech development and strengthens your baby’s jaw muscles. Interestingly, many babies refuse to eat lumpy food from a spoon or fork but will eat finger foods even though these also require chewing.
Good first finger foods
Initially, it’s important to choose foods that are quite soft, as babies can bite off a piece of a hard food like raw carrot and choke on it—so to start off, I like to offer the following:

? Steamed vegetables such as carrot or sweet potato sticks, small broccoli or cauliflower florets

? Soft ripe fruit: for example, banana, peach, melon, mango

? Sticks of toast or broiled cheese toast

? Cooked pasta shapes with a very small amount of sauce or a little melted butter and grated cheese
Finger foods for older babies
Among the suggestions that follow, there are lots of accompanying recipes throughout the book from which to choose.

? Sticks of cheese

? Raw vegetables, such as carrot and cucumber sticks

? Apple slices, strawberries, blueberries, halved or quartered peeled grapes

? Dried fruits, such as apricots and apples—try to use the soft type and avoid California apricots, which are very tart.

? Unsweetened breakfast cereals

? Rice cakes

? Mini meatballs or burgers

? Pieces of chicken or fish with or without a crumb coating

? Cold cuts, sliced wafer-thin and rolled up into a cigar shape

? Pita bread, flatbreads, bagels

? Mini sandwiches—mashed banana, cream cheese, peanut butter (Provided there is no history of allergy or atopic disease in your family—for example, hay fever, asthma, or eczema—it should be fine to give peanut butter from 7 months on.)

? Mini homemade pizzas

? Mini muffins

? Mini homemade cookies

? Mini ice pops made from fresh fruit
Checklist for First Finger Foods

1 Peel apples and pears initially, but as your baby gets older, introduce the skin as well, as the vitamins lie just below it.

2 Often it’s better to give a large piece of fruit or vegetable that your child can hold and eat rather than bite-size pieces.

3 When making sandwiches for little ones, it’s a good idea to slightly flatten the bread first with a rolling pin so that the sandwich is not too thick for your child to eat.

4 There is no need to be obsessive about germs. It’s fine to use an antibacterial wipe to clean your baby’s high chair—but remember that your baby picks things up from the floor and puts them in her mouth all the time.

5 Your baby’s hands should always be washed before she eats.

6 One very common thing that pediatric dieticians talk about is children who are afraid of mess. This seems to be at the root of many toddler eating problems. Allow your baby to experiment—she’s bound to get into a mess, but it’s not a good idea to continually wipe your child’s face clean while she is eating.

7 Try not to buy dried apricots that are treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their bright orange color, as this can trigger an asthma attack in susceptible babies.

8 A large mat placed under the high chair to catch food and recycle it is a good investment.

Just because your child can chew off a piece of food, like a chunk of raw carrot or apple, doesn’t mean that she can swallow it down properly. Sometimes children bite off pieces of food and then store them in their mouth, so always check when your child comes out of the high chair that there is no lumpy food left in her mouth.
Foods that are choking hazards include:
? Pieces of raw vegetables

? Grapes—you should peel grapes and cut them in half or into quarters

? Raisins

? Fruit with pits

? Cherry or grape tomatoes—best to quarter these

? Chunks of hard cheese

? Nuts
What to do if your child chokes:
? If your child chokes, check inside his mouth and remove any object, but be careful not to push the object farther down his throat.

? Lay your baby facedown on your forearm with his head lower than his chest. Give him five sharp slaps on the middle of his back with your other hand.

? If this does not dislodge the object, turn your baby over onto his back and, pushing down with two fingers in the middle of his chest, make five sharp thrusts at a rate of about one every 3 seconds. Then check your baby’s mouth again for any obstruction.

? If unsuccessful, call 911 immediately.
Some babies are born with teeth, some get them at 6 months old, and some may have hardly any teeth by the time they are 1 year old. While some babies sail through teething, it can be a pretty miserable time for others. Telltale teething signs include bright red cheeks, inflamed gums, mild rash around the mouth, mild fever, irritability, and changes in feeding and sleeping patterns. As a parent, I believe it’s very important to trust your instincts, and you know better than anyone when something is not right with your baby. There is divided opinion among experts on whether teething can cause a mild fever or diarrhea. However, they all agree that you should check with your doctor if you are concerned about your baby, and don’t just put it down to teething.
Some ways to help your baby:
? While babies are teething, it is not unusual for them to be off their food. It is a good idea to keep some chilled cucumber sticks in the fridge, put banana in the freezer, or make some fresh fruit ice pops. Cold foods help to soothe sore gums. You can also dampen some clean washcloths, freeze them, and then offer them to your child to chew on.

? Offer your child some cool, smooth foods like applesauce or yogurt.

? Gel-filled teething rings that can be put in the fridge can also help cool sore gums.

? You can rub sugar-free teething gel on your baby’s gums or give some infants’ Tylenol if your baby has a slight fever, but always check with your pediatrician before giving any medication to your baby.

? If your baby uses a pacifier, then keep a supply of chilled pacifiers in the fridge.

? Cuddle or nurse your baby—a baby feels less uncomfortable if relaxed and happy. Try to distract her by offering a change in scenery, a new toy, or a fun activity—this will make it harder for her to concentrate on being miserable.

? Rub petroleum jelly around the outside of your baby’s mouth to protect it from becoming red and sore when your baby dribbles.

? Make sure that you brush your child’s teeth as soon as they appear. Use a baby toothbrush and a smear of infant toothpaste.

? Try to avoid soda and other sugary beverages. Give only milk or water in a bottle. However, you can give juice at mealtimes in a sippy cup, but make sure it has no added sugar. It is best to restrict juice to mealtimes, when there is plenty of saliva in the mouth to wash away the acid.

Photo Credit: Michael Birt

Annabel Karmel is the mother of three children and the UK’s leading expert on feeding children. She works with leading US parenting websites such as and has appeared on many TV shows, including the Today show and The View. Check out her popular app, Annabel Karmel: Healthy Baby and Toddler Recipes, and visit her website,, to learn more.

More books from this author: Annabel Karmel