When Can Babies Eat Cheerios and Finger Foods?
Feeding a baby can be really confusing and stressful at times! If you’re wondering when babies can eat cheerios, or when babies can eat puffs or other finger foods, I’ve got answers for you. As a pediatric Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is constantly staying up to date on the most current guidelines and recommendations for babies and toddlers, you can put your faith in me.
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When should you introduce solid foods to baby?
Your baby can start on solids when they show signs of readiness, usually around 6 months old. The signs of readiness include:
- Sitting up unassisted
- Interested in food
- Decreased tongue thrust reflex (they don’t automatically push everything out of their mouth with their tongue)
- Able to bring objects to their mouth
But when young babies first start out, they won’t yet be ready for Cheerios. Babies around 6 months old CAN feed themselves soft solids, but should start with pieces about the size and shape of 1 to 2 adult fingers. My favorite first finger food ideas include:
- halved banana split down the middle
- baby-friendly pancake cut into finger shapes
- avocado wedge coated in ground flax or baby oatmeal flakes
- roasted sweet potato spears
Avocado was the first solid food I gave both of my kids as babies! There are a lot more first foods ideas in my Simply Solids quick guide, here.
When can a baby pick up small pieces?
They aren’t very efficient at first, but around 6-7 months of age a baby can use a raking motion with their little fingers to pick up a small object in their fist. Older infants, usually around 9 months old, develop their pincer grasp. This is the ability to pick up small pieces, like a cheerio, with their thumb and forefinger. They continue working on their fine motor skills and get more and more efficient.
When can babies eat Cheerios?
It is safe for babies to eat Cheerios when they are able to bring the cereal to their mouth independently, and have already gotten good practice with other soft solids. Cheerios dissolve fairly easily, so even though they are not a soft texture, baby can handle them, usually around 8-9 months old. Puffs do dissolve easier, so you may want to start practicing with puffs before trying Cheerios.
When I was a first time mom, I was so nervous about introducing solids beyond soft pieces! It’s normal to feel a little hesitant about moving to the next step with their eating.
What type of Cheerios is best?
The yellow box Original Cheerios is the best dry cereal for babies, as they have the least amount of added sugar. The ingredients are whole grain oats, corn starch, sugar, salt, tripotassium phosphate, and vitamin E. There’s only 2g added sugar in a serving, and your baby likely isn’t eating an entire serving, so I’m okay with the small amount of added sugar for them.
There are other brands of O’s cereal that you can try too! Just make sure they have less than 2g added sugar.
I do not recommend any other types of Cheerios like Honey Nut Cheerios, Multigrain Cheerios, or any of the other Cheerios varieties for babies.
Do they need teeth to eat solids?
Nope! Their gums are stronger than you’d think. Whether their front bottom teeth have started coming in or they are completely toothless, they can still handle solids beyond purees. A good test for you to know whether their gums can handle a food is to squish it between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. If you can break it up or dissolve the food in your mouth without using your teeth, then it’s likely a good texture for baby.
Are there other easy foods like Cheerios they can have?
Yes! I like fruit, veggie, and peanut based alternatives. Baby puffs can be great, but I like to pack in the nutrition if possible. Here are some good options:
- Freeze dried fruit like blueberries or strawberries
- These dissolve very easily, and have just one ingredient – fruit!
- Amara plant-based smoothie melts
- Dairy-free and added sugar free
- Spoonful One puffs
- These contain small amounts of 16 common allergens, so it’s a really easy way to keep exposing your baby to these allergens without having to prepare a ton of different foods. This is a helpful way to reduce the risk of food allergies.
- Puffworks Baby peanut butter puffs
- An easy way to serve peanuts! I like these peanut puffs because it’s important to serve peanuts at least 3 times a week throughout their first several months of eating solids. This helps reduce the chance of developing an allergy. For more info on introducing allergens to babies, read this post.
- Serenity Kids grain free puffs
- Great option with no added sugar
What about other baby cereals?
Baby grain cereals like rice cereal and baby oatmeal are commonly recommended when babies start solids. Rice cereal was traditionally recommended because it has a low risk of causing an allergic reaction. In the past, health professionals recommended delaying allergen introduction. But now we have studies that show the exact opposite. Allergen introduction should be early and often for the best chance of preventing food allergies. Rice cereal is low in nutrition, and I like to make sure babies taste a variety of foods early on. There is no nutritional reason to stick with rice cereal for the first several weeks or months.
Baby oatmeal is more nutritious than rice cereal, and I do recommend serving it to your baby. However, it’s important to introduce them to a variety of flavors and textures early on. It is okay to introduce several new foods in a day, and even more than one food in a meal!
If you want more guidance on starting solids, check out my Simply Solids quick guide. It’s a straightforward guide to get you started and help you reduce the risk of choking, which can be a very scary thing when starting solids!
Can babies have toast?
This is such a commonly asked question, and yes, they can! I have a whole post on serving toast to babies here. I actually love toast for babies because you can spread healthy, soft foods on top to boost nutrition. Cottage cheese, plain yogurt, mashed soft beans, or a thin layer of any nut butter make great toast toppings for babies.
Important Safety Measures
All foods can potentially be a choking hazard for your baby, as well as non-food small objects. Babies should always be properly seated in a high chair and supervised when eating. Occasional gagging is normal, and is not necessarily a cause for concern. Persistent gagging warrants a chat with the pediatrician.
Hard, sticky, chewy, or very crunchy foods should be avoided for baby. Make sure that finger foods are about the size of a chickpea, that is the perfect size. Larger round pieces like whole grapes, hot dogs, and whole baby carrots are dangerous choking hazards for babies.