How can I teach my baby to eat finger foods? She eats well as long as I feed her.

Babies usually start finger foods around six months of age. Some have more interest than others; while some babies are very independent, others enjoy being fed by others. I am a fan of letting babies feed themselves as soon as they are able. It puts them in charge of the amount of food they eat, which builds better eating habits and decreases their risk of obesity as they grow. If you aren’t doing so already, make meals a family thing. Eat together. Watching others eat often piques the curiosity of babies, who love to imitate. Put your baby in a high chair, put food in front of her, and then eat your meal. Talk to her and interact with her, but don’t feed her; between that curiosity and plain old hunger, most babies will try picking something up and eating it. In general, it might help to give her finger foods before feeding her, when she’s most hungry. Try a variety of foods, too, to help her learn to enjoy different foods. Just make sure you don’t give her anything she can choke on—keep pieces of foods small and soft.

Dr. Claire McCarthy


Claire McCarthy is a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She’s also a mom raising five children!