Making the transition from feeding your baby purees to feeding him finger foods is a pretty daunting task. It can be tough to know exactly when the right time to start is, what to offer, how much of it and how often. Let's just say there are a lot of variables. Ultimately, you'll just have to bite the bullet. As is the case with most baby-related things, your confidence will continue to grow as you become more familiar with offering finger foods. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Timing is key. After your baby reaches about six months of age, most pediatricians will tell you that you can begin to offer some table food rather than just purees. You can wait a bit longer if you're not comfortable by that time or if you are just starting your baby on solids. Just pay attention to your child's cues. If he is regularly attempting to swipe food off of your dinner plate, you might want to start sharing.

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2. Check out his grasp. Your baby's ability to grab small objects between his thumb and forefinger is called the pincer grasp. Once he has developed this skill, eating finger foods will be a lot easier and a lot more fun. I actually decided to test my sons pincer grasp one day before I had even bothered to offer finger foods. To my surprise he had already pretty much mastered it. I started offering finger foods shortly after, and he handled them like a champ.

3. You'll love the flexibility. Since babies get the majority of their nutrition in the first year from breast milk or formula, there's no need to feel pressure about when and how much you offer. If there is something suitable in texture on your plate, feel free to cut it into tiny pieces and offer it to your baby. If there's not, no big deal. At seven months old, my son either gets small tastes of whatever my husband and I are eating or sticks of softly steamed veggies and fruit that I use for his purees.

4. Careful with the shape, size, and texture. First off, try to avoid giving your baby anything that is roughly the size and shape of his esophagus--such as sliced hot dog or whole grapes. These foods are MAJOR choking hazards. Other than that, I suggest either offering pea-to-garbanzo-sized pieces of soft veggies, fruit, meat, fish, bread, and pasta or cutting some of his favorite vegetables and fruit into finger-sized sticks and steaming them until very soft. A good rule of thumb for texture is that if you can easily smush it between your fingers your baby will be able to break it down easily--even without teeth.

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5. ALWAYS supervise! Most important of all, do not leave your baby alone while he's eating. There will inevitably be some gagging and coughing and while most of this is completely harmless and a part of the learning process, you should always be around on the off-chance that there is a bigger problem.

Always consult with your child's pediatrician before introducing new foods to an infant.

Image via Flickr/divinf

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About the author

Shayne Rodriguez Thompson is a full-time wife, full-time mom, and freelance journalist trying to balance it all and looking forward to exploring the world with her son and husband. In her rare spare moments, she's a pop culture junkie and kitchen devotee who makes a mean cupcake!

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Add Comment Are you or were you nervous about introducing your baby to finger foods?

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Great tips for new moms
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