This is week 2 in my month long focus on baby finger foods that are fresh and unprocessed. There has been a proliferation of packaged baby finger foods over the last few years, and it’s easy to get caught up in buying them and offering them frequently – they are convenient, they market themselves as practically ‘health foods’, and they are easy to throw in your handbag when you’re heading out. But let’s not forget about all the great fresh and unprocessed foods out there that are great for learning how to eat and chew too! Today we are reviewing the delightful STRAWBERRY. What age should you be giving this slippery little sucker to your child?
Recommended age: not provided
Age you could probably offer this: 8-9+ months
Shape: whole strawberry shape, or little wedges if cut up
Size: I like to recommend them chopped up into small blueberry sized pieces, or leave it whole
Texture: soft bite & chew
Strawberries are such a delight for babies to eat. They are sweet, juicy, and tend to leave a lovely rash all over their mouth and chin when babies first eat them (just to make sure that their parents have a mild panic attack about allergies, why not?). I’ve had many parents ask over the years about what age would be appropriate to give strawberries, because the slippery nature of strawberries means that often babies can have trouble with manipulating the fruit in their mouths. This means that it slips and slides all around the mouth, making it tricky to chew. And slippery foods that are tricky to chew have a habit of slipping back down the throat before they’re ready to swallow and this makes a child gag (and sometimes choke).
To combat this, I like to recommend waiting a little while before offering strawberries. Once a child has some early chewing skills (usually around 8-9 months) they find it a bit easier to handle from an oral motor perspective. I recommend chopping the pieces up into smallish bits (eg cutting in half lengthways, then half again lengthways, and then half again across to make ‘cubes’ of fruit) because then if a piece does slip back before it’s chewed at least it will be easier to swallow whole.
You can give babies whole strawberries to munch on, and I will leave this up to you to decide if this will suit your baby. If your baby is a biter then they will probably be fine – they love to bite down into the strawberry, and it’s so soft and easy to practice biting on. But if you have a stuffer (you know, the kids that think that a whole shoe can fit in their mouth at once) then be warned. Strawberries are just another challenge for them! Can they fit a whole strawberry in their mouth at once? You betcha! If you have a stuffer, then stick to the small pieces and wait until closer to 12 months before offering the whole strawberry at once.
Lots to love about this slippery but delicious fruit. Have you got a stuffer or a biter?
(no star rating today because how could you compare strawberries with anything else?!)
And remember, always supervise your baby when they are eating, no matter how easy you think the food might be to eat.