How to Cut Strawberries for Baby-Led Weaning
Sweet, juicy strawberries are an easy fruit to love, and they’re a healthy food for your baby. If you’re spoon-feeding purées, you can simply blend raw strawberries in the blender and serve. But if you want to offer this Vitamin C-packed fruit as a finger food, here’s how to cut strawberries for baby-led weaning (or baby-led feeding, as I like to call it).
Strawberries for Beginning Eaters
If your baby hasn’t developed her pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger), give her a whole strawberry to pick up with her palm and gnaw on. The trick here is to choose a big strawberry, probably a store-bought one because it’s tough to get industrial-sized berries at the farmer’s market! Your baby will suck and gum the berry, getting lots of good flavor and texture experience and hopefully actually eating some in the process (but no promises, haha). Be sure to take the berry away if it becomes small enough to actually get into her mouth, but large enough to block her air-hole.
Strawberries and Other Berries for Older Eaters
If you want to cut strawberries for baby-led weaning and your baby has developed her pincer grasp, you can treat these yummy berries like all finger foods: make sure they’re soft enough to mash with gentle pressure between your thumb and forefinger, and chop them into small pieces the size of your pinky fingernail or smaller, like this:
What about other berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries? Blueberries should be halved if large and gently smushed. Chop raspberries and blackberries into small pieces and be sure that they are ripe and soft.
Serving Finger Foods Safely
Remember that when your baby is learning to eat he may gag as a way to make sure unsafe pieces of food don’t make it too far back into his mouth and become a choking hazard. Gagging is a baby’s natural defense mechanism and is totally normal. And, as your baby gets older the gagging mechanism moves farther and farther back on his tongue, making gagging less frequent. When your baby gags, do your best not to seem alarmed; just watch quietly and know that your baby is eating normally.
If your baby is a frequent gagger and it appears to upset him or make him reluctant to eat, talk to your pediatrician. Also, check out this article I edited for Parents.com about when gagging is good and when to worry.
Choking, of course, should be avoided at all costs. You’ll know your baby is choking if he’s unable to cough or breathe. Cutting berries properly as I’ve described and ensuring they’re soft will go a long way to helping your baby enjoy them safely. But, always stay with your baby when he’s eating and know how to help him (preferably by having taken a baby and child CPR class) if he chokes. This video is a helpful refresher.
I know that gagging and the potential for choking can seem very scary. But, if you take common-sense precautions berries are a safe finger food, and in general, babies are much better at handling solids than most of us give them credit for. Remember that babies eat this way safely every day!
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