She's about to take another leap toward independence, and it's going to get messy. Finger foods help your little munchkin develop new skills and explore through new tastes and textures. You'll probably be able to tell when she's ready for more when you find her reaching for the spoon at feeding time and trying to swipe food off your plate. Until she gets good at feeding herself though, get ready to take plenty of pictures of her adorable food-covered face and be prepared for lots of floor scrub-a-thons.
Your munchkin's watching you make lunch and crawls or slides her way over to you to bribe a sample from you with one of her beautiful smiles. It's tempting to hand it over, but remember that giving your kiddo food while she's on the go increases the risk of choking. She's busy, shoves the food in, and it gets lodged at the back of her throat because she's not focused on chewing (or gumming) properly.
Melanie Potock, a certified pediatric speech language pathologist and feeding specialist in Longmont, Colorado, cautions that "choking most often has no sound because the airway is blocked. Keep a good eye on your little one!" Make sure she's safely secured into her highchair or a booster seat whenever possible. Potock says she understands that feeding time isn't always picture perfect: "While being confined to a booster or highchair isn't always possible when out and about in the community, a child should still be well-supported and seated while eating. Wherever you may be eating with your child, be sure to be face-to-face with him and pay close attention to how well your child is managing the food."
Potock recommends that parents "learn the signs of choking and how to respond. Signs include (but are not limited to) gasping for breath; turning blue; fainting; displaying a wide-eyed, open-mouth, panicky look; drooling with no sound or odd vocal sounds and gagging or vomiting in combination with the signs noted above."
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Now that she's figured out how to get food to her mouth, your baby can become an active participant in feeding time. However, it's probably not a good idea to hand over the spoon just yet -- you may just end up with more food on her tray and in her hair than in her mouth.
However, she can now handle a variety of foods safely. "Any food that is solid enough to be picked up and then melts easily in your child's mouth is an ideal first food," Potock says. She recommends that “parents think about food as 'squish and swallow' rather than 'chew and swallow' foods at this stage."