Ahhh, the joy of feeding babies. From their delight at sticking their fingers in their food and smearing it all over their hair to the hilariously comic faces they pull when they taste something new, there's nothing quite as life-affirming as watching babies explore the glorious world of food. But if you've got a fussy eater on your hands, there are also few things quite as stressful as trying to shovel grub into their gobs.
So, to help smooth the way towards stress-free feeding times, here are five of our favourite finger food recipes. They're suitable for a variety of ages but do remember to introduce new foods slowly, and never leave a child unattended when they're eating.
This Annabel Karmel recipe did the rounds on a popular parenting forum recently, and every single parent who made these sweetcorn fritters reported that they were a huge hit with their babies. They're listed as being suitable for children aged from 1-4 but I have omitted the salt and made them for my nine month old who is pretty adept at eating lumpier textures. You'll find the recipe here but it really just involves whizzing up a quick batter from some plain flour and baking powder plus an egg, some spring onions and a tin of sweetcorn, then making them into patties and frying them gently in some sunflower oil. Couldn't be easier. This one is suitable for freezing. But I wouldn't expect there to be any leftovers!
Bite-size banana pancakes
I absolutely love this recipe - it's a great way of sneaking some banana into the tums of little ones who might otherwise resist anything resembling a piece of fruit, and it also makes bananas a bit more interesting for babies, like mine, who seem to eat bunches and bunches of the things. The size of the pancakes make these an ideal finger food, too. Again, you basically make a quick batter and then dip a slice of banana in the batter and fry it until golden. There's salt in this recipe too so again do omit that ingredient if you're making this for babies under a year old, as their kidneys cannot process too much salt.
Butternut squash, apple and chicken bites
This recipe for butternut squash, apple and chicken bites is a firm favourite in our house. Again it's super quick and easy to make, and is suitable for freezing. You simply chop up a butternut squash into baby bite-size pieces and roast or steam it, dice an apple and then combine with cooked, shredded chicken, an egg white and some bread crumbs plus a dash of garlic powder or seasoning that your little one likes, and press the ingredients into a mini muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. I find these are fab for stashing in a tupperware and popping in my nappy bag when I'm out for the day and not sure what we'll be doing at mealtimes.
Raisin bread french toast fingers
This recipe for french toast fingers made from raisin bread is a hit with little ones who love raisins. Again, you can adapt the recipe to suit the age and stage of your little foodie but the basics are mega-easy. You just dip some slices of raisin bread in some whisked eggs (add the vanilla extract, cream and cinnamon if you wish) and then fry lightly until golden brown, before cutting into toddler-friendly strips. My little lady isn't a big fan of toast but I find she hoovers this up - presumably because it's easier to suck on with no teeth!
This is a Super Healthy Kids recipe and it's a great one to make if you have children who are old enough to help in the kitchen. You simply spread pizza tomato sauce on top of each pitta bread, add grated mozzarella cheese and any additional toppings that your littlies love, then pop them in the oven till the cheese melts. Ooh. Now I know what's for dinner tonight.
So there you have it - five finger foods that we defy even the fussiest of eaters to turn their little noses up at. If you make any of these, we'd love to hear how they go down!