Finger foods aren’t just a convenient way to have your little one nosh without having to stand attendant with a spoon; they’ve got plenty developmental advantages, too.
1. Encourage pincer grip
The ability to pick up objects between forefinger and thumb generally manifests between 7 and 10 months old. In the interim, incentivise practice by offering a selection of variably sized foods–which can help hone the technique.
2. Important for speech development
Jaw muscles and the tongue ‘muscle’ are integral in both eating and speaking. When you provide your tot with different textured foods, he learns to bite and chew in different ways, which is valuable in preparing the jaw and tongue for the myriad requirements of speech.
3. Less future fussiness
Introducing a wide range of taste and texture into your baby’s food repertoire early on could set her up to be more open to new foods later in life. At approximately 6 months, infants exhibit a willingness to experiment with tastes and texture, so make sure you use this window of opportunity.
4. Develop hand-eye coordination
In tandem with exercising the pincer grip, finger foods are handy props for developing hand-eye coordination–and then hand-to-mouth, of course. Again, change up the degree of difficulty; start with easy-to-pick-up morsels, and then work up to trickier bits, like slippery banana hunks.
5. Improve sensory processing
Of course you want your baby to actually eat the food, but in reality, most of it is going to be smeared, smooshed, and spilled. This is, believe it or not, a good thing, because it allows your budding gourmand to explore a sensory smorgasbord unparalleled by any other material. So restrain the urge to clean up too quick–let him play with his food!