When baby starts to accurately pick up items and move them to her mouth, she might be ready to try to feed herself! Not only is it good practice for her tongue and the muscles in her mouth, but it's a great way to practice hand-eye coordination and fine motor control.
What to choose
To avoid excess gagging, choose foods that will almost dissolve in baby's mouth or will otherwise easy to move around with their tongue.
(Though there might be a little gagging as baby gets the hang of eating—if the food comes right back out of their mouths, they are doing it right!)
Think soft and small pieces of banana, scrambled eggs, well-cooked pasta or grains, very (very) ripe pear, peas steamed until soft or even very soft pieces of baked potato.
Here are my other fresh favorites:
Many baby food brands make puffs, which usually contain veggies, fruit and a grain like rice.
They are easy for little hands to pick up and are dissolvable, making them a good option for an early finger food.
When roasted until soft, sweet potato wedges are easy for little hands to hold and baby will love the naturally sweet taste.
Wash and dry a sweet potato. Peel and cut into wedges about 1/2-inch to 1-inch thick and toss with coconut oil. Roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes, turning once, or until very soft. Let cool before serving one wedge at a time.
Alternatively, you can steam diced sweet potato until very soft and offer small cubes.
Ripe avocado is soft and packed with healthy fats vital for your baby's developing brain.
Try offering small cubes, which your baby should be able to enjoy even if she doesn't yet have teeth.
Raw apples are usually too hard for little eaters, but try this:
Peel and dice an apple. Place into a steamer basket of a pot, cover, and steam until very soft. The cooking time will depend on the type of apple, so check every five minutes for doneness. Let cool and serve warm or chilled, either plain or topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
This method also works well for firm pears, too. Just starting solids? Find our guide here!
Amy Palanjian is a mother, a writer and the founder of Yummy Toddler Foods.