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21 Healthy Finger Foods For Toddlers

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The Cambridge English dictionary defines finger food as a food that you can eat without using knives, forks, or spoons, and using only fingers. Isn’t that how toddlers tend to eat food by the time they are around seven or eight months old?

Finger foods can help your child develop independent eating habits. This sounds exciting, but you need to know what type of finger foods you can give to the baby. You need to consider the nutritional wholesomeness of those foods, while making them tasty and interesting enough for the toddler.

MomJunction shares a few such healthy and easy toddler finger food recipes that you can try.

What Are Some Popular Finger Food Ideas For Toddlers?

Toddlers can eat solid foods that they are not allergic to. Here are some finger food ideas (from various food groups) that would suit your toddlers’ palate.

  1. Vegetables are the leading finger food choices for toddlers, as they provide several vitamins and minerals essential for a toddler’s growth and development (1). Your toddler can have finely-chopped, boiled, or steamed vegetables.
  1. Fruits are rich in micronutrients and dietary fiber that are vital for healthy immunity and overall health of the baby (2). Pulpy fruits such as banana, papaya, and mango can be mashed and fed raw. Fruits with a harder pulp, such as apples and pears, may have to be steamed to soften them. However, older toddlers can have these raw fruits as finger foods when chopped into smaller pieces.
  1. Meat is a source of protein and other essential nutrients, such as zinc and iron (3). You can feed your toddler chicken, red meat, or turkey. Prefer boneless varieties as it would be easier for the toddler to eat and digest.
  1. Fish like salmon and herring are a source of vitamin-E and DHA. Both these vital nutrients are important for the brain and cognitive development of the toddler (4).
  1.  Eggs contain minerals (like iron) and vitamins (like vitamin D). They have the highest biological value and all the essential amino acids. Eggs also have bioactive compounds such as lutein, which strengthen immunity and help fight diseases (5).
  1. Cereals can be made from grains such as rice, wheat, and oats. Choose whole-grain cereals over processed ones as whole grains are rich in fiber, iron, and minerals (6). Also, only choose unsweetened and preservative-free versions of cereals.
  1. Nuts are rich in micronutrients that play a significant role in a healthy metabolism, which is vital for toddlers (7). Nuts are a good source of vitamin-E, polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids, and proteins that a toddler needs in the phase of rapid growth and development. You can add nuts to your toddler’s diet by crushing or powdering the nuts into tiny pieces and mixing them with other foods so that they can be easily ingested. The powder can be added to recipes to thicken their consistency and increase the nutritional value.

You can combine the above foods in several ways to make exciting toddler finger foods. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Note: Be cautious of allergic reactions as the chances of cross-reactivities increase when an array of foods are introduced to the baby (8). Also, introduce only one new food at a time.

21 Toddler Finger Food Recipes

We have divided the toddler finger food recipes into five categories, so that they are suitable for all the meals of the day.

Breakfast Finger Foods For Toddlers

1. Oats and Apple Pancake with Yogurt

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Pancakes are soft and have an easy to chew texture, which makes them an ideal choice of finger food for breakfast. Adding fruit and yogurt to this recipe can increase its nutritional value.

You will need:

  • 1-1.5 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (coarsely powdered)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 cups fresh buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 apple (peeled and sliced)
  • Whole fat yogurt (as serving)

How to:

  1. Take a large bowl and put whole wheat flour, baking powder, oats, chopped almonds, salt, and cinnamon powder in it. Toss and mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Now, take another bowl and whisk egg and buttermilk together, and add maple syrup/honey, and oil to it. Once done, combine it with the flour mix to prepare the batter. Set it aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a flat pan on medium heat, and brush it with the oil.
  4. Place 2-4 apple slices in the pan with some space in between so that they could be easily flipped. Cook these slices until they turn light golden in color.
  5. Pour 1/2 cup of batter (or more if needed) on the pan and spread it enough to place two slices of apple.
  6. Place two slices on top of the pancake and cook until the bottom turns golden in color.
  7. Flip to the other side and cook till it turns golden brown too.
  8. Transfer the pancake to a serving plate. Serve with yogurt and top with some diced apples.

2. Cereal and nut bites

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A healthy mix of cereal and nuts with the sweetness of dates makes this dish a delightful breakfast finger food for the toddler.

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup oat cereal
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup seedless dates

How to:

  1. Transfer all ingredients to a large bowl and mix them well.
  2. Set aside a small quantity of the mix and roll it into a ball. Continue making as many you can with the mix.
  3. Place the cereal bites on a plate and refrigerate them for 10 minutes before serving.

3. Honey toast sandwich

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Honey in combination with toasted whole wheat bread makes a delicious mix, thanks to the naturally sweet flavor of honey.

Note: Do not give honey to children below the age of one year (9).

You will need:

  • 4-5 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1/2 cup honey

How to:

  1. Toast the bread to the desired level of crispiness. Cut the toasted bread into smaller sections.
  2. Spread honey on each slice and cover it with another slice of bread to make a sandwich.
  3. Refrigerate for five minutes, and the delicious breakfast finger food is ready.

4. Oats and bananas muffin

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It is a fiber-rich muffin made from oats and bananas.

You will need:

  • 2 chopped bananas
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup sliced blueberries
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cow’s milk (optional)

How to:

  1. Blend all the ingredients, except blueberries, thoroughly. If you want the consistency of the batter to be thin, then add some milk.
  2. Grease a muffin tray with a little oil and pour the batter into it. Top the muffin with the sliced blueberries.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176ºC) and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  4. Once ready, allow the muffins to cool sufficiently before serving it to the toddler.

5. Scrambled eggs with egetables

Scrambled eggs with breadcrumbs

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A scrambled egg makes an ideal finger food for toddlers as it is easy to make, and have too! You can bump up its nutritional value by adding crumbs of whole wheat bread.

You will need:

  • 4-5 eggs
  • Finely chopped vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

How to:

  1. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix the very finely chopped vegetables with the eggs.
  2. Heat oil in the pan and transfer the eggs mixture into the pan. Use a spatula to scramble into small pieces.
  3. Keep cooking on a medium flame till the eggs are cooked well and brownish. Cool and serve.

Lunchtime Finger Foods For Toddlers

6. Rice and chicken nugget

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A chicken recipe for toddlers with the goodness of rice makes it an ideal Indian-style toddler finger food that can be served for lunch.

You will need:

  • 2 cups sliced boneless chicken
  • 3-4 cups of rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

How to:

  1. Cut the boneless chicken pieces into smaller bits so that it is easier for the toddler to eat them.
  2. Steam the chicken pieces for 10 minutes using a steam grill inside a pan or a cooker. You can also boil the pieces by placing them in shallow water and boiling them for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Remove the boiled chicken pieces from the water and roll them in rice flour multiple times so that there is a thick coat of flour around.
  4. Pour a tablespoon of oil into a pan and fry the chicken for four minutes on a low flame. Turn the pieces around and fry the other side for four minutes as well. Both sides of the nugget must turn golden brown.
  5. Let the chicken nuggets cool, and the delicious meat finger food for toddlers is ready.

7. Potato and peas cutlet

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This vegetarian finger food recipe for toddlers is easy to prepare and convenient to carry for outdoor activities such as camping or a road trip.

You will need:

  • 3-4 cup peas, boiled and mashed
  • 1 large potato, boiled
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup cornflour or chickpea flour
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Water

How to:

  1. Mix the peas and potato in a bowl. Add salt and mix well.
  2. Divide them into small portions, shaped like a cutlet
  3. Mix cornflour with a little water to make a batter of medium consistency.
  4. Heat a pan and brush it with oil.
  5. Dip the cutlets in the cornflour batter and put them on the pan, two at a time.
  6. Cook them, and slip in between, until they turn golden brown on both sides.
  7. Cool and then serve.

8. Mashed potato rolls

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Wheat and potatoes make this recipe nutritious. The rich carbohydrate content makes it an ideal finger food for active toddlers in daycare, where they indulge in a lot of outdoor play that demands extra energy.

You will need:

  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 4-5 cups of wheat flour
  • 6-7 cups of water
  • 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

How to:

  1. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes or use a pressure cooker up and cook until four whistles to make the potatoes tender.
  2. Mash the boiled potatoes. Add water used for boiling to soften the potatoes if required.
  3. Make a dough using wheat flour. Use a rolling pin to roll out a thin layer of dough. Add some mashed potatoes in the center and roll the dough again. Cut the dough into small sections to make mini-rolls.
  4. Heat oil in the pan. Place the rolls, and shallow fry them on a medium flame for four minutes. Turn the rolls and fry for four minutes. You can continue frying till the roll develops a crispy golden-brown crust.
  5. Let the rolls cool, and the toddler finger food is ready to be served.

9. Spinach, cheese, and rice rolls

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Spinach, cheese, and rice, all rolled up together in this delicious finger food suitable for toddler’s lunchtime is packed with nutrition.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of finely chopped spinach
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 4-5 cups of rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

How to:

  1. Mix the rice flour with water to make a thick batter.
  2. Boil spinach for 10 minutes till it is completely soft.
  3. Sieve the spinach and transfer it to a blender. Add fresh water, grated cheese, and blend till it forms a thick paste.
  4. Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Use a ladle to spread a thin layer of the rice batter. Let it cook for 3 minutes on a medium flame. Then spread spinach and cheese on it.
  5. Gently roll the cooked rice pancake, cut it into smaller rolls, and continue cooking till the outer layer becomes crusty. Serve after cooling the finger food sufficiently.

10. Meat and wheat balls

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This is a protein-rich finger food with the added nourishment of wheat.

You will need:

  • 4 cups minced meat (mutton)
  • 3-4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 5-6 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoon oil

How to:

  1. Cook the minced meat by boiling for 20 minutes on medium flame. Alternatively, you can cook it in a pressure cooker for up to four whistles. Sieve out the cooked meat and let it cool.
  2. Make a dough with the wheat flour and mix it with the cooked minced meat. Mix and roll it well so that it develops a homogenous consistency.
  3. Make small meatballs with the dough and meat mixture. Heat oil in the pan and shallow fry these balls till the meatball develops a brownish crust.
  4. Let the meatball cool before serving it to your little one.

Evening Snack Finger Foods For Toddlers

11. Baked sweet potato sticks

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If you are exploring ideas to make finger foods for a toddler’s birthday party, then check this recipe out. It is a simple dish for toddlers that you can prepare quickly and easily. It is sweet and nutritious too!

You will need:

  • 5-6 sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

How to:

  1. Slice the sweet potato into long strips.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Grease the baking tray with a small quantity of oil.
  3. Place the sweet potato on the baking tray, mix well, and bake for 40 minutes.
  4. Once baked, transfer the sweet potato sticks into a bowl, add salt, and mix thoroughly. Wait till the sticks are cool enough before serving it to your toddler.

12. Assorted fruit salad

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This is perhaps the simplest toddler finger food idea to satisfy the preschooler’s hunger pangs in the evening. Since it is an all-fruit recipe, it provides nutrition too.

You will need:

  • 1 cup sliced apple
  • 1 cup sliced pear
  • 1 cup chopped banana
  • 1 cup diced papaya
  • 1 cup sliced orange
  • 1 cup chopped strawberry
  • 3 cups of water

How to:

  1. Boil the apple, pear, and strawberry in water for 10 minutes on a medium flame. Boiling will help make the fruit tender and prevent it from being a choking hazard.
  2. Let the apple and pear cool. Transfer them into a large bowl and to that, add the chopped banana, sliced orange, and diced papaya. Only use ripened varieties of fruits to make them easier for the toddler to eat. It also makes this recipe an ideal finger food for younger toddlers with few teeth.
  3. Mix the fruits together, and the preparation is all set to be served to the hungry toddler.

13. Egg and vegetable muffin

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Combine the goodness of eggs with that of milk and vegetables in this delicious finger food snack for the toddler.

You will need:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup diced cauliflower
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

How to:

  1. Beat the eggs thoroughly and add to it the cauliflower, carrot, milk, and cheese. Mix them thoroughly.
  2. Grease a muffin tray with oil and pour the beaten eggs’ mixture into each mold.
  3. Preheat the oven to  375ºF (190ºC). Place the muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Let the baked muffin cool before serving it.

14. Baked apples with lime

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This finger food dish is easy to prepare, yet healthy enough to be an evening snack for the toddler.

You will need:

  • 4-5 apples
  • 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 4-5 cups of water

How to:

  1. Cut the apples into long slices and bake them so that they turn entirely tender.
  2. Transfer the apples to a bowl and let them cool completely.
  3. Add lime juice to it, and mix thoroughly. The healthy finger food evening snack is ready to be served.

15. Minced chicken finger sandwiches

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A simple sandwich recipe for toddlers, it is easy to prepare and has all the goodness of chicken and whole wheat bread.

You will need:

  • 5-6 slices of whole bread
  • 3-4 cups of minced boneless chicken
  • 2-3 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 5-6 cups of water
  • 1/3 tablespoon salt

How to:

  1. Boil the minced chicken in water for 15 minutes on medium flame.
  2. Transfer the boiled chicken into a blender, add salt, and blend them all coarsely.
  3. Cut the bread into small pieces. Spread the blended chicken onto the bread and make small finger sandwiches.
  4. Heat oil in the pan. Place the mini-sandwiches, and shallow fry them on a medium flame for 3 minutes. Turn the sandwich around and fry the other side.
  5. Once ready, serve this fiber-rich chicken finger food to your toddler.

16. Cracker coated tofu

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This is an easy finger food recipes for toddlers and can be prepared in a few minutes.

You will need:

  • 1 slab of firm tofu
  • 3-4 whole wheat crackers
  • A ziplock bag

How to:

  1. Cut the tofu into cubes that are small enough for a toddler to hold and eat.
  2. Finely crush the crackers and transfer them to a ziplock bag. Transfer the tofu cubes into the bag as well.
  3. Shake the bag vigorously so that the crushed crackers stick to the tofu cubes.
  4. Once ready, place the tofu on a tray, and the finger food is ready to be served.

Dinner Finger Foods For Toddlers

17. Vegetable and rice momo

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Momos are dumplings made from wheat and rice and filled either with vegetables or meat. It makes an excellent finger snack for toddlers owing to its soft and easy-to-chew consistency.

You will need:

  • 3 cups boiled of rice
  • 4-5 cups wheat flour
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup finely-chopped beans
  • 1 cup peas

How to:

  1. Steam the vegetable so that they are completely tender. In a separate vessel, cook rice.
  2. Add water to the wheat flour and make dough with it.
  3. Flatten out a small piece of dough, add some boiled rice, and boiled vegetables. Roll the dough in the shape of a momo.
  4. Place the momo on a steaming grill and cook for 5-6 minutes. To keep the momo extra moist, you can steam them directly in shallow water for 5 minutes.
  5. Let the momo cool sufficiently so that the rice and vegetables also cool inside. Once, cooled, this fun finger food for toddlers is ready to be served.

18. Baked cauliflower

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Cauliflower is a good vegetarian finger food option. Make this in combination with wheat flour, corn, and garlic.

You will need:

  • 1 cup thin-sliced cauliflower pieces
  • 1/2 cup refined wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

How to:

  1. The cauliflower should be cut into thin slices. Use only the white section and not the leaves and stalk.
  2. Combine the two types of wheat flour, corn flour, garlic paste, and salt with water. Mix them to make a thick batter.
  3. Dip the cauliflower slices in the batter, and bake them until they turn light brown.

19. Applesauce chicken loaf

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A delicious chicken finger food that is filling and excellent for picky toddlers who would love to have something unique every time.

You will need:

  • 4 cups ground chicken
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup pureed carrots
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • Water as per requirement

How to:

  1. Transfer all the ingredients except olive oil in to a large bowl and mix them well. Make a thick batter and use a bit of water for some dilution.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Grease a loaf pan with olive oil and transfer the batter. Bake for 45 minutes.
  3. Once ready, remove the loaf from the pan and cut it into thin slices. Cut the slices further into small tiny cubes and serve to the toddler.

20. Broccoli and cheese cutlet

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Cheese and broccoli make a great combination in this delicious veggie finger food recipe for the toddler.

You will need:

  • 2 cups finely chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup toddler cereal
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1.5 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

How to:

  1. Put all the ingredients except vegetable oil in a large bowl and mix them well. Add extra refined wheat flour to thicken the mix if required.
  2. Shape the batter in the shape of a cutlet. Add a few spoons of oil in a pan and toast the cutlets until they develop a brown crust all around.
  3. Let the cutlet cool enough before serving it to your toddler.

21. Carrot and wheat sticks

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Blend carrot and wheat to make a nutritious dinnertime finger food for your preschooler.

You will need:

  • 1 cup long-sliced carrots
  • 3 cups of wheat flour
  • 4-5 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

How to:

  1. Mix water and wheat flour to make a dough.
  2. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough and then cut small sections of it. Roll a slice of carrot in the dough so that it entirely covers the carrot.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Grease the baking tray with the oil and place the dough-rolled carrots on it.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes. Bake up to an hour if you want to make the slices more crispy.
  5. Once baked, let the slices cool, and they are ready to serve.

Those were some easy-to-make finger food options for toddlers that would get them sufficient nourishment while also keeping their taste buds satisfied. If you know any more toddler finger foods recipes, then tell us about them in comments section below.

Reference:

1. Feeding Your Baby: The First Year; Cleveland Clinic
2. Fruits and Veggies More Matters; Georgia Department of Public Health (2008)
3. Why is it important to make lean or low-fat choices from the Protein Foods Group?; ChooseMyPlate.Gov
4. Ryota Hosomi et al.;Seafood Consumption and Components for Health; National Centre for Biotechnology Information (2012)
5. Yanni Papanikolaoul and Victor L. Fulgoni; Egg Consumption in Infants is Associated with Longer Recumbent Length and Greater Intake of Several Nutrients Essential in Growth and Development; National Centre for Biotechnology Information (2018)
6. Michelle Klerks et al.;Infant Cereals: Current Status, Challenges, and Future Opportunities for Whole Grains; National Centre for Biotechnology Information (2019)
7. Nuts and seeds; Better Health; Victoria State Government, Australia (2019)
8. If Allergic to One Food, Do You Have to Avoid Related Foods?; Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
9. Foodborne botulism; CDC
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