Are you still waiting for your baby to get a tooth? Or maybe they’ve got one but that’s it? Many parents are worried that it isn’t safe to give finger foods for a baby with no teeth, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Babies chew with their gums!
Picture how you yourself bite and chew food. Yes, we use our front teeth to bite off pieces of hard things most of the time. Outside of that, we use our molars to actually chew and grind food. Babies don’t get their molars until well after a year usually! If we waited until then to give them finger foods, we’d have some issues.
Even though they don’t have molars, or maybe even front teeth, babies have very strong gums. They are able to chew and grind up all sorts of foods with no teeth at all!
The key to safe finger foods for babies with no teeth
I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s the same rules as it is for babies with teeth! Teeth are pretty irrelevant for babies, especially before one!
The biggest thing that we want to work on is avoiding choking hazards. Many times, this means that foods should be soft and squishable between two fingers. That allows babies to easily get off pieces, and chew them with the gums in their molar area. And if they miss some, it is still soft enough not to be a choking issue when swallowed without chewing.
More: For more help with baby led weaning and how to help your baby succeed with eating, be sure to check out this article with a comprehensive guide to baby led weaning and first baby foods!
What happens when babies break off pieces of food
The only real difference you might notice between babies with and without teeth is in the few foods, like cucumbers, that can be scraped with gums without breaking off chunks of the whole thing.
For babies with teeth, these foods can start to be broken off fairly soon, meaning that they need to no longer be served in this way. Think a stick of cucumber or a strip of meat. Both totally safe to get the insides or juice from, but we don’t want them breaking off chunks. For babies without teeth, the time before they start breaking off chunks tends to be longer. But not always! Some babies without teeth have a strong bite with just their gums and can get them off fairly early, too. In any of these cases, simply shredding meat or grating cucumbers can make them safe.
Finger foods for babies without teeth
If you’re still curious what it might look like to give foods to your baby without teeth, here are some examples of safe foods that can be given. Again, you’ll note that these are exactly the same for babies without teeth as for babies with teeth!
Big vs little pieces of foods
Whether you give big finger size pieces or little pieces of the food depends on how you are choosing to feed your baby.
For a baby led weaning style of eating, you would start serving foods in finger size sticks so that your baby can grasp them. For help with this, check out this post on how to cut foods for baby led weaning.
If you are not doing baby led weaning style, you can still give sticks of food in the appropriate texture. Or you can give much smaller pieces, generally once your baby has developed the pincer grasp.
Examples of Finger Foods
All of these foods can be served completely safely to babies, regardless of whether they have teeth or not. Remember, it’s more about the texture and how long you cook them than anything! Teeth are irrelevant for babies.
For more help and details on how to serve foods safely and in an environment that will help your child develop a healthy relationship with food as they grow, check out my online Starting Solids Course. It walks you through everything you need to know to confidently start, and continue, serving your baby foods!