This master list of finger foods for toddlers, babies, and kids is your go-to list for healthy and delicious foods the kids can feed themselves…and easily and safely chew!

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Healthy Finger Foods for Kids

When little ones want to feed themselves, which often happens soon after starting solids, it’s a perfect time to introduce healthy, fresh foods to make the most of their enthusiasm. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, meats, fish, beans, and more are  easy finger food ideas that are often super easy to prepare and easy for the kids to pick up and eat.

In this post you will find lists of recommended foods, suggestions for how to cut and prepare them, and images of examples of what those foods may look like as your child grows.

TIP: I love to keep finger foods in the mix even as kids get older since they make for simple, healthy snacks that are usually low cost and low prep.

Safe Finger Foods for Kids

A good rule of thumb to help prevent choking or excessive gagging is to avoid anything:

  • hard (like a raw carrot)
  • round (like a slice of hot dog or a whole grape)
  • sticky (like a spoonful of nut butter)
  • very chewy (like gummy candy)

If you are just starting out with baby led weaning or if baby is younger than 9 months, longer sticks of foods are usually easier to pick up and self feed. Once a baby has mastered her pincer grasp around the age of 9 month and can pick up a food like a puff or a Cheerio with their fingers, you can move on to soft diced foods.

Stick with softer foods to start with that are easy to chew.

first finger foods for baby in grid

First Finger Foods for Babies

Foods that squish easily between your fingers are a safe bet for babies and younger toddlers. Think cooked peas, raspberries, chunks of banana, diced avocado, and soft cheese. Aim to cut food into small pieces—roughly the size of a pea or two—as they start eating finger foods to give them plenty of chances to practice eating and chewing.

Always adjust sizes of foods to suit the age and eating experience of your own child and add more complicated textures as they grow.

TIP: Find my best first finger foods for babies here.

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Finger Foods for Toddlers and Babies: Fruit

Fruit is a wonderful finger food for kids since it’s often very flavorful and usually needs little to no prep. Below are some of my favorite fruits for kids, along with serving suggestions

  • Apples, shredded or cut into matchsticks, or steamed or roasted until soft
  • Bananas, broken up and sectioned (these are easier to pick up than slices, which can be slippery)
  • Blueberries, halved if large
  • Raspberries, halved if large
  • Blackberries, halved if large
  • Strawberries, diced
  • Clementines or oranges, halved or diced
  • Grapes, sliced in half or quarters vertically
  • Kiwi, diced
  • Watermelon, diced or in sticks
  • Cantaloupe, diced (make sure it’s very ripe and soft)
  • Cherries, pitted and chopped
  • Honeydew, diced (make sure it’s very ripe and soft)
  • Mango, diced (make sure it’s very ripe and soft)
  • Pears, very ripe and soft served diced with or without the skin or cut into matchsticks

TIP: Find my Master List of Fruit for Kids.

apples-as-finger-foodsHow to Serve Apples

Here’s an example of the progression of what it might look like to serve apples as finger foods.

  • (6+ mo) Applesauce, unsweetened
  • (6+ mo) Steamed or baked apple slices: served BLW style, the baby will be able to pick up the pieces and suck off the tender flesh, then discard the skin.
  • (8/9+ mo) Raw, grated, using softer varieties like MacIntosh or Gala and offer a small amount at a time.
  • (16/18 mo +) Raw sticks, using softer varieties here too and sit with your kiddo to see how they do.
  • (2 yr + ish) Raw slices. Use soft varieties and see how your toddler does. Many toddlers at this age can actually eat whole apples, but some can’t so you need to see what works for your child!

TIP: Sauteed Cinnamon Apples are a really great finger food option using apples.

clementines-as-finger-foods-copyHow to Serve Clementines

And here’s what it might look like to serve clementines as finger foods.

  • (8-ish+ mo) Clementine flesh, outer membrane removed. Or, mash them more and serve on a preloaded spoon. See if baby likes the texture…or not! P.S. Canned mandarin oranges in water (NOT syrup) with no added sugar are a super soft option that many babies and toddlers love.
  • (10/12+ mo ish) This will depend on the baby and how they’re doing with finger foods, but the segments are easier to chew and move around when the membrane is cut in half. Can cut smaller if desired. Can continue to remove the membrane if needed/preferred.
  • (Closer to 2, with discretion) Whole segments. My 2.5 year old can usually eat these with no problem, but she still may have a hard time chewing them and sometimes spits them out. And serving with the whole peel, with it started so they can remove it themselves, is a great way to practice fine-motor skills as they finish peeling the fruit! (They can practice peeling earlier though you may need to cut the fruit if needed.)

TIP: You can also slice with the peel on as shown here.

Finger Foods for Toddlers and Babies: Vegetables

Most raw veggies will be too hard for little ones to chew, so read the suggestions below for easy ways to cook them—and for advice on which work well served raw.

  • Avocado, cubed or sliced
  • Butternut squash, steamed or roasted until soft
  • Broccoli florets, steamed or roasted
  • Carrots, shredded and served raw to toddlers over 18 months or diced and steamed or roasted until soft
  • Cauliflower florets, steamed or roasted
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Cucumbers, sliced or diced (you may want to wait until over at least 18 months and then remove the skin)
  • Snap peas, diced fresh for kids over 2 or steamed for younger eaters
  • Sweet potato, peeled, diced and roasted until soft, or roasted whole until soft and served in pieces
  • Thawed frozen peas (or still frozen for older toddlers!)
  • Thawed frozen corn
  • Thawed edamame, cut in half as needed
  • Zucchini or yellow squash, diced or sliced and sauteed, steamed, or roasted

variety of shapes of carrots on cutting board

How to Serve Carrots

Here’s a progression of options for serving carrots as finger foods from babies on up as an example.

  • (8+ mo) Steamed or boiled grated carrot: Very soft small pieces are easy to chew and a good fine motor exercise in picking up.
  • Diced Roasted Carrots: Toss carrot sticks with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until soft. Dice.
  • (10/12 mo+) Halved Carrot Coins: Easy to pick up and less of a choking hazard than full coins. Serve them steamed, sauteed, or roasted.
  • (12+ mo) Roasted Carrot Sticks: You can try these earlier, especially if doing BLW, though many younger kids will stuff the whole thing into their mouths (which can get stuck).
  • (16/18 mo+) Grated Raw Carrot: This can be an interesting texture for toddlers and can be a nice introduction to salad. Serve a small amount at first to see how they do with the texture.
  • (16/18 mo+) Steamed/Sauteed/Roasted Carrot Coins: I like to cut them for a while just to make sure the kids can chew them well, but serving rounds is a fun way to change up the shape.
  • (2.5/3 yrs+) Raw Carrots: It’s entirely possible that your toddler will be okay with these at 2. Or not until 4. Cut the sticks thinly. Use your instincts with this one since it can be a choking hazard!

TIP: We love these Easy Sauteed Carrots and Roasted Carrot Fries.

variety of shapes of broccoli on cutting boardHow to Serve Broccoli

Here’s what a progression of serving broccoli as finger foods might look like.

  • (6 mo +) Cooked with potatoes or sweet potatoes and mashed. You can mash super soft chopped florets into hard cooked egg yolk.
  • (8/9 mo +) Steamed or roasted very tender florets: I’d avoid the stem since it can be very tough. Progress from smaller to slightly larger pieces to help them learn to move the texture in their mouths.
  • (18/20 mo+ or according to when your kiddo can bite and chew thoroughly): Full-size florets, steamed or roasted:  If steamed, toss with a little olive oil, butter, or toasted sesame oil for additional flavor. (This is also a method of serving broccoli BLW that my kids loved—but they more suck/gnaw than chew it all up so expect a fair amount to come back out!)

TIP: Find my favorite Roasted Broccoli here.

cheese-and-turkey-finger-foods

Finger Foods for Kids: Dairy

Dairy is an often overlooked finger food but there are so many easy ways to serve it!

toddler plate of meatballsFinger Foods for Toddlers and Babies: Meat/Poultry/Fish

It’s easy to serve meat, poultry, and fish to little kids as long as it’s soft and easy to chew. Here are some ideas.

  • Beef, ground and cooked through and either diced (if in something like a meatball) or served mashed.
  • Beef, shredded (anything cooked in a slow cooker or instant pot and shredded is likely to be an easy texture to chew)
  • Chicken, ground and cooked through and either diced (if in something like a meatball) or served mashed
  • Chicken, diced (just be sure it’s not too dry)
  • Chicken, shredded (anything cooked in a slow cooker or instant pot, like my Butter Chicken, and shredded is likely to be an easy texture to chew)
  • Deli meat (sliced turkey, ham, or salami, cut up into small pieces)
  • Fish Sticks
  • Meatballs, diced or slightly mashed
  • Salmon, poached or baked and diced or shredded
  • Shrimp, cooked until very soft and diced
  • Turkey, roasted breast or thigh meat and diced or shredded; or ground and cooked through
  • Tilaipa, cooked and shredded
  • White fish, cooked through and diced or shredded

Finger Food Ideas: Legumes/Nuts

You may want to mash beans slightly to make sure they are soft for the kids.

  • Hummus (with a cracker for dipping)
  • Chickpeas (like these Soft-Baked Cinnamon Chickpeas)
  • Edamame, steamed or boiled according to package directions
  • Energy bites, diced
  • Larabars minis, diced (for over 12-18 months)
  • Finely chopped cashews and walnuts (2 or 3 and up)
  • Frozen peas, thawed
  • Nut butter (on toast cubes or sticks)

grains and snacks on a white cutting boardFinger Foods: Whole Grains

Whole grains, whether cooked from scratch or served in a food like bread or a muffin, are a nutritious category of finger food ideas.

  • Oatmeal, cooked until it’s nice and thick so it’s easy to pick up with fingers (you can also add 1 teaspoon chia seeds, let sit for 5 minutes, and it will thicken up)
  • Baked Oatmeal Cups
  • Crackers, whole grain (Breton and the whole grain mini rounds in the brown box from Trader Joes are nice and soft)
  • Soft snack bars, homemade granola bars, or Dino Bars
  • French toast, diced
  • Muffins, diced
  • Pancakes, diced
  • Rice, fully cooked until soft with mashed avocado or shredded cheese to help it hold together as needed
  • Quinoa, fully cooked until soft with mashed avocado or shredded cheese to help it hold together as needed

diced-zucchini-muffins-on-purple-plateEasy Finger Food Ideas: Snacks

Having a few go-to store-bought snack food options is super handy. These are some of my favorites.

My baby/toddler has no teeth—can he eat finger foods?

Absolutely! Gums are incredibly strong, as is the tongue, so how many teeth your baby or toddler has (or doesn’t have!) is not an indication of how well they will be able to eat finger foods. The key is to make sure that the foods are soft enough for them to chew and the pieces are an appropriate size.

Finger Foods for Kids at Daycare

The foods in this post can be really helpful when packing food for daycare to make meals easy for your baby or toddler to eat. Aim for a mix of nutrients with whole grains, protein, fat, and lots of produce to help them meet their nutrient needs.

The lists in this post are designed for kids over 9 months. For younger babies doing baby-led weaning, serve foods in longer/larger pieces as needed, and avoid anything that’s not soft enough for them to easily chew. (The foods should still squish between your fingers easily or dissolve quickly like a puff.)

Sit with your kids whenever they eat and especially whenever they try new foods to see how they handle it—and so you can see if you need to cut things bigger or smaller to meet them where they are.

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Comments

  1. Hi!
    Thank you so much for providing such detailed tips. My daughter is 14 months and was born premature so she’s 11 months adjusted. Starting solids has been slightly confusing for us. I love the organization of this guide and it gives an idea of what to incorporate in her meals. With the help of her nutritionist and this guide I feel more confident.

  2. Hi Amy,

    I have a 13 months old who doesn’t really chew her food.
    I cut everything pea sized . Sorry for the details, but I can even find undigested food such as pees and carrots in her diaper.
    Tried giving her a banana- she knows how to bite but she just spits it out if too big.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank You!

    1. Hi- It’s not usual for that to happen and will gradually decrease as she becomes more able to chew and mash foods. I would continue to make sure that the food you offer her is soft and small in size and start to progress to larger pieces over the next 3-4 months. Learning to eat is a process and it sounds like she’s doing great for her age!

  3. i have a 19 months old girl who is picky about what she eats and sometimes i feed her veggies or something i think is healthy and good but i’m overly worried about what i give her afraid of choking. But sometimes she does this whole thing of taking her hands and swiping food out of her mouth. Overall i’m worried she’s not getting the right nutrients cause all she wants is mac and cheese. What can i do? Meals to send with her to daycare is a challenge to!!!! HELP!

    1. Hi. I’m sorry that you’re worried—feeding kids is hard! Here’s a post with info on choking that I hope is reassuring. There’s really no way to be 100% sure that a toddler is getting perfect nutrition and really no child does. It may help to zoom out and look at what she’s eating over the course of a whole day or week since they really can vary a lot on what they like and how much they eat. It’s very normal for little kids to have their favorites so I try to serve 1-2 foods they usually like with each meal in the mix of the food we’re all eating as a family. For daycare, maybe make a list of the foods she likes right now and see if you can think of similar foods to expand it out just a smidge? It’s okay if you have 3-5 lunches that you rotate through. most days. This is not a contest—do the best with what you have on any given day. Feel free to email me at yummytoddlerfood at gmail.com for more help if you need it.