Your Ultimate Guide to Baby- and Toddler-Friendly Finger Food Recipes

This Ultimate Guide to Baby- and Toddler-Friendly Finger Food Recipes is your go-to resource when you’re looking for healthy recipes for your little one(s). It’s a comprehensive round-up that’s updated frequently, so you’ll never run out of ideas!

Title graphic for Your Ultimate Guide to Baby- and Toddler-Friendly Finger Food Recipes.

As a busy mom and entrepreneur, I know all too well the struggle to consistently have healthy meals and snacks on hand for our little ones. Heck, I even develop recipes for a living and still struggle with it! That’s why I’ve created this Ultimate Guide to Baby- and Toddler-Friendly Finger Food Recipes featuring creative, nutrient-packed recipes from some of my favorite mom bloggers.

This is a fantastic collection of both savory and sweet recipes that are easily portable and hand-held, because as moms I know we’re all about convenience. I will be updating this recipe collection regularly as I stumble across more great recipes, so be sure to keep checking back.

To start, I’ve broken the recipes down into two sections: Sweet and Savory. At this point, I hesitate to break them down further as I feel there are so many that can fit into multiple categories, but I’ll continue to break them down as I add more links if I feel it’s necessary.

If you like the looks of these and want more recipes ASAP, be sure to check out my e-book where I have 30 additional recipes that are all freezer-friendly.

Here’s my list so far!

SAVORY BABY- AND TODDLER-FRIENDLY FINGER FOOD RECIPES

Baked Butternut Squash Fritters with Parmesan
A stack of Butternut Squash Fritters on a plate. The perfect baby- and toddler-friendly snack!
by The Clever Meal
Breakfast Egg Muffins
Breakfast Egg Muffins are laid out on a table with a wholesome breakfast spread.
by Hungry Healthy Happy
Green Monster Crackers
Green Monster Crackers overflowing from a bowl. Another great snack for toddlers!
by Love in My Oven
Quinoa Frittata Muffins
A stack of Quinoa Frittata Muffins - a great baby-friendly finger food!
by My Kitchen Love
Mini Turkey Apple Meatloaf Muffins
A stack of three Turkey Apple Meatloaf Muffins - a great toddler-friendly snack!
by Haute & Healthy Living
No-Fry Crispy Quinoa Bites

by The Belly Rules the Mind

Cheesy Zucchini Tots
A plate of Cheesy Zucchini Tots with a side of dipping sauce is the perfect toddler-friendly finger food snack!
by Lemons and Zest
Baked Lentil Veggie Nuggets
A plate of Baked Lentil Veggie Nuggets - a healthy, baby-friendly finger food!
by This Healthy Kitchen

SWEET BABY- AND TODDLER-FRIENDLY FINGER FOOD RECIPES

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Cookies
An overhead shot of a stack of Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Cookies on a wooden cutting board.
by CaliGirl Cooking
Mini Sweet Potato Muffins
A stack of Mini Sweet Potato Muffins next to a glass carafe of milk. A perfect finger food for babies or toddlers!
by Love in My Oven
Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins
These one-bowl Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are super simple to make, freezer-friendly and naturally sweetened. They're both adult and kid-friendly!
by CaliGirl Cooking
Banana Blueberry Fritters
Hands holding a plate of Banana and Blueberry Fritters - a great finger food for babies and toddlers!
by Healthy Little Foodies
Air Fryer Apple Chips
An overhead shot of a plate of Air Fryer Apple Chips - a fun snack for babies and toddlers!
by Recipes From a Pantry
Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes
Make a batch of these Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes the next time you do food prep and you'll have healthy kids' snacks for the rest of the week!
by CaliGirl Cooking

Do you have a favorite baby- and toddler-friendly finger food recipe?? Share it in the comments below and I may add it to this list!

My Go-To Meal Prep Hack: Instant Pot Shredded Chicken

Instant Pot shredded chicken is the ultimate meal prep recipe. It takes less than 30 minutes to make and is versatile enough to use in different dishes throughout the entire week.

The Easiest Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is perfect when combined with some whole grains and roasted vegetables in a bowl for a healthy meal.

I’m letting you in on a little secret today! That’s right, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from my e-cookbook that will set you up for meal prep success throughout the entire week. This Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is sooooo easy and takes almost no ingredients to make. And because it’s so simple, you can dress it up in a multitude of ways – no repeat meals here!

The simplicity of this chicken also makes it a great first food for baby if you’re following baby-led weaning. You can easily control the sodium by simply not adding any salt and season it with whichever herbs and spices you have a hankering to introduce to your child on any given day.

How to Make It

Seriously guys, I can’t think of any recipe that is easier than this one. And for all my Dish Density fans, this is pretty much the LEAST amount of dishes you’ll find in any of my recipes. (ICYMI, I introduced the exciting Dish Density feature on this post last week.) That deserves a lot of celebration, am I right?

All you need to do to make this super simple recipe is throw all of the ingredients into the Instant Pot, turn it on and set a timer [*affiliate link]. That’s it! The real fun comes after the chicken is made, when you get to come up with how you’re going to use it all up.

Two hearty bowls of Easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken loaded with vegetables and whole grains are the perfect healthy meal!

But don’t worry, I have some ideas for you!

  • Throw it on top of a seasonal salad.
  • Use it as part of a filling for enchiladas.
  • Make tacos.
  • Stir it into a soup.
  • Put together a simple protein, veggie and grain bowl and top with your favorite healthy dressing.
  • Pile it on top of a bun with some BBQ sauce for tasty sliders.

These ideas right here are enough for almost an entire week’s worth of dinners, but I’d love to hear if I missed any creative uses you can think of!

The other great thing about this Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is you can totally freeze it! So make it some evening or weekend where you have a 30-minute block of time, and pop it in the freezer for a go-to weeknight meal in the very near future.

If you can totally get down with the freezer meal idea (I mean, what busy parent can’t?), be sure to check out my e-cookbook for 29 more freezer-friendly recipes!

A bowl of the Easiest Instant Pot Shredded Chicken complete with veggies. A great option for baby-led weaning!

Easiest Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Instant Pot shredded chicken is the ultimate meal prep recipe. It takes less than 30 minutes to make
and is versatile enough to use in different dishes throughout the entire week.

Course: Main Course
Keyword: baby-led weaning, chicken, Instant Pot, meal prep
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 121 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound each boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs (2 pounds total)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
Dishes needed:
  • Instant Pot
  • 2 forks
  • Tongs
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in an Instant Pot. Make sure the valve is set to sealing. Hit the “Pressure Cook” button and select High pressure for 10 minutes.

  2. The Instant Pot will take a while to warm up, then it will
    start counting down. Once the timer is done, make sure the valve has switched
    to vent to release all the pressure.

  3. Once all the pressure has been released and the chicken has
    cooled slightly, use two forks to shred it. After shredding, pour out any
    excess liquid.

  4. Once shredded chicken has cooled completely, place in a
    resealable glass container or plastic bag and freeze. You can also separate the
    chicken into individual portions before freezing if desired.

Recipe Notes

DISH DENSITY: Low

When Is My Baby Ready to Start Solids?

These are some of the primary signs to look for when determining if your baby is ready to start eating solid foods.

A cute baby eating some of her first solid foods (and getting them all over her face) in her highchair.

**As with all of my posts related to baby-led weaning, I kindly remind you that I am sharing my experiences as a mother who has recently gone through this process and found great success in getting my little one to enjoy a wide variety of foods. I am sharing tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way in hopes that these posts will be another source of information you can gather from in the VAST array of research I’m sure you’re already doing to formulate whatever personal parenting style you choose to use with your children. I am not a doctor, registered dietitian or nutritionist and the information I provide should never take the place of or override that provided by these professionals. For more information on baby-led weaning, I urge you to read Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods – and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett [*affiliate link].

Okay, now that that’s all out of the way, I’m excited to share with you today three signs we looked for when deciding if our baby girl was ready to start on solid food.

Before I get to the list, though, I think it’s important that I give you a little background on our breastfeeding and formula journey (yes, we used both!)

A dad feeding his baby girl a bottle in a rocking chair.

OUR BREASTFEEDING (AND FORMULA) JOURNEY

I don’t think enough people get real about just how TOUGH breastfeeding is. Man, it is HARD WORK and something that requires intense concentration to get right, especially when you’ve suddenly had a tiny human thrust into your arms that you’re responsible for keeping alive. Lactation consultants are in high demand and it’s no wonder why. I am so grateful that my mom is a retired NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurse and also happens to have a good friend who is a lactation consultant, otherwise I have no idea what I would have done!

My little one had a strong latch from the very first time we tried to breastfeed, and that was a primary reason for why the nurses encouraged me to use a nipple shield right away [*affiliate link]. They didn’t want her destroying me before I’d even had a chance to meet with a consultant!

I ended up continuing to use the shield for a couple of reasons as time went on (until about 4 months old) and, even though it was yet another thing to juggle when I was trying to stay somewhat decent breastfeeding in public, I got the hang of it and it turned into no big thanggggg.

Mama breastfeeding her baby in bed with a cup of coffee in hand.

Things were going well for a while, but around month 5 it seemed like baby girl just wasn’t satisfied after we’d finish a nursing session. And let me tell you, it wasn’t because I didn’t give her enough time…She was a suuuuper slow nurser and would always happily nurse for a solid 20 minutes each side.

I’m sure you can imagine if you’re a mom, but this was stressing me out, and I can bet that wasn’t helping with my supply. This was the time my mom recommended we start thinking about introducing some rice cereal, and after clearance from our doctor to do so, we tried it.

Now, my little one has always loved food, but even though she seemed INTERESTED in the small amounts of rice cereal I started feeding her, the majority of it was ending up everywhere EXCEPT her mouth, and it still seemed like she was hungry. This was when we made the decision to start introducing some formula, for a couple of reasons:

  1. I was finally able to convince myself of the fact that I shouldn’t let my pride about “exclusively breastfeeding” get in the way of my daughter’s happiness and wellbeing.
  2. I need to start thinking of MY wellbeing, too. Was forcing myself to exclusively breastfeed when it was becoming really stressful the best choice for me and my mental state? That was a big, fat NO.
  3. I would continue to breastfeed, but would give her formula to SUPPLEMENT. Then it was a win-win: she (and I) both continued to reap the benefits of breastfeeding, but I would be confident in the fact that she was getting the nutrients and calories she needed through formula.

If you are familiar with baby-led weaning, then you know that your babe’s calories from solids are not intended to take the place of his or her calories from formula/breastmilk until they are around one year old. Rather, solids are meant to be a fun exploration for your little one. If they eat what you serve, great! But don’t worry about them NOT eating because their primary source of calories and nutrients is still formula.

I ended up continuing to breastfeed in some way or another until Raia was 10 ½ months (we would have gone longer but I had a trip to go on and was SO over bringing my pump with me), at which point we weaned to straight formula until 12 months, when we introduced dairy milk. Her milk intake had steadily dwindled the more she got into food, so it was an easy transition and, looking back, I have no regrets.

A cute baby stripped down in a highchair enjoying some of her first solid foods.

I promise I’m about to get into the “signs to start solids,” but before I do so I want to leave you with this little nugget:

It’s so easy to get caught up in society’s idea of the “perfect” way to raise your child, whether it be through exclusively breastfeeding until at least 12 months or putting your child in full-time childcare (and a million other examples). I want you to absorb the societal noise – don’t ignore it – but then take a step back and look at YOU and your family. What is best for YOUR overall wellbeing? We can’t forget ourselves. Screw society. We need to take care of US just as much as we need to take care of our littles.

That all being said, here are the three main signs we saw that told us Raia was ready for solids – and the signs you may want to look for in your little as well:

#1 Sitting Up Unassisted

You want to make sure your little has enough strength to hold him- or herself in a position that they can safely consume solid foods. This is crucial with baby-led weaning as you move straight to solid solids – not purées – and you don’t want them to choke! You can tell if your baby is at this point by placing them in their highchair and seeing if they support themselves or lean forwards or backwards (or sideways) to help prop themselves up.

A baby sitting up unassisted to show she is ready to start exploring solid foods.

#2 Genuine Interest in What You’re Eating

I mean, this video kind of says it all. Am I right?

Those mouth noises just crack me up! It was pretty obvious to us when Raia was starting to have an interest in solid foods. We’re talking, mouth open, ready for us to drop something in as soon as we took a bite. Another common sign of this might be them reaching towards food. Every baby is different.

#3 Adequate Motor Control

You don’t have to worry so much about their oral dexterity (they will learn this through the baby-led weaning process – it’s why gagging happens) but you want to make sure they have the manual dexterity to at least pick up properly prepared “sticks” or other larger pieces of food. You may have heard about the gagging that is often associated with baby-led weaning, but if you read the book I recommend [*affiliate link] you’ll see why gagging is a perfectly normal part of baby’s oral motor skill development. You can also watch YouTube videos on it to learn what to look for and the difference between “gagging” and “choking.”

And there you have it! Short and sweet, but you can see these are all pretty significant landmarks to look out for.

Mom letting baby nibble on a whole apple.

I hope this is helpful for you, and I also hope you’ll reach out with any additional questions.

If your little has reached all of these milestones and you’re ready to embark on your solid foods journey, check out this other related post on what I recommend for baby’s first foods!

10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes

These easy, healthy recipes are baby- and kid-friendly and perfect for baby-led weaning. They can also all be made ahead and stored in the freezer for meal-prep convenience. 

These easy, make-ahead baby-led weaning recipes are freezer-friendly and perfect for meal prep. Healthy meals for your babe in minutes!

No matter how much I want to flex my recipe creativity muscle and make cool, irresistible adult food, it’s been hard to ignore the fact that there’s a HUGE need out there for more baby-friendly and baby-led weaning recipes. There seem to be a lot of other mamas out there looking for healthy recipe inspiration for their little ones and I want to help!

I’ve got quite a few of my own baby-led weaning recipes I’ve been working on perfecting for all of you mamas out there – which you’ll be seeing soon – but, in the meantime, I reached out to some of my other mama blogger friends for their favorite baby-friendly and baby-led weaning recipes.

Disclosure: We chose to follow baby-led weaning when introducing our now 14-month-old to solids and couldn’t be happier with the results. If you’re unfamiliar with the method and want to learn more, I highly recommend reading Gill Rapley’s book, Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods — and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Healthy and Confident Eater

That being said, here are 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes!

1.Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes
Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by CaliGirl Cooking
2. Sweet Potato Lentil Tater Tots
Sweet Potato Lentil Tater Tots | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by Haute and Healthy Living
3. Salmon and Veggie Balls
Salmon and Veggie Balls | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by Kidgredients
4. Chickpea PancaKES
Chickpea Pancakes | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by Healthy Little Foodies
5. bROCCOLI tOTS
Broccoli Tots | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by White Coat Pink Apron
6. oAT mILK cHIA pUDDING WITH bLUEBERRY oRANGE cOMPOTE
Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by CaliGirl Cooking
7. sAVORY bEET zUCCHINI bREAD
Savory Beet Zucchini Bread | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by MJ and Hungry Man
8. sUPER sIMPLE pUMPKIN cARROT mUFFINS
Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by CaliGirl Cooking
9. qUINOA bITES

by The Belly Rules the Mind

10. bABY’S fIRST pANCAKES
Baby's First Pancakes | 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
by Eat Real Live Well

Essential Baby Products Months 6-12

A list of what we considered were the essential baby products for months 6-12. The perfect reference to start your baby registry or Christmas list!

A list of what we considered the essential baby products for our little one's months 6-12.
This post contains affiliate links.

I hope you’re ready for Part II of my roundup – what we consider to be the essential baby products for months 6-12!

I’m sure I accidentally left out something, but this list is comprised of the things I considered “must-haves” during those second six months of our little babe’s life, and now is the perfect time to make your purchases with so many great sales going on at the end of the week.

So, without further ado…

Items are listed clockwise from top left.

Raia is still getting comfortable using the walker part of this VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker, but she loves the little activity panel. We feel safe with her on this one since our house is all one level with absolutely no stairs, but do use caution if you live somewhere that is multilevel!

These bibs are seriously the only bibs you’ll need once your little one moves on to solids. I love that they cover so much of them, can be wiped dry but are also machine-washable. Plus, can we talk about how cute all the designs are?

This swim seat was the hit of the summer. We don’t have a pool and didn’t want to run up our water bill with a kiddie pool, so I found this simple seat that takes hardly any water but is still a blast for the babes, even if they’re not completely sitting upright on their own yet. I highly recommend it!

Hands down the best decision we ever made in purchasing baby products was this $25 Ikea Antilop highchair. It’s not too big and clunky and so easy to clean. Nothing fancier needed.

Long story short, these Ezpz Mini Mats are the only plates you’ll need for your little once they start eating solid food. They’re dishwasher and microwave safe and – extra bonus – quite difficult for the littles to toss on the ground!

We were lucky to borrow a couple of friends’ bouncers to try with Raia, and she loved this one! It was a great step up from the bouncer chair and rock-and-play once she got too big for those, and is great for starting to build up those leg muscles.

Once Raia started rolling over, we transitioned her to these armless sleep sacks which we still use to this day. They’re not too restricting but still make them feel like they’ve got a little extra comfort.

I know there is a lot of controversy on the safety of walkers like this Joovy one, but again, we live in a one-story home with absolutely zero stairs and lots of open space, so we felt safe getting this for Raia to run around in. She loves it! I liked the Joovy one in particular because it was much simpler and had a lot less stuff going on than many of the other walkers out there. We couldn’t be happier with this choice.

In the same vein as not wanting a walker with too much “stuff” going on, I also didn’t want a play mat that was loud and obnoxious looking. I had been eyeing the Little Nomad mats but, honestly, they were a bit out of our price range. I was so excited to find this Emma + Ollie one for practically half the price and we love it! I’ve actually been thinking about investing in another one soon as Raia’s toys continue to take over our living room.

This Play & Kick Car Seat Toy was a lifesaver for long car rides with the babe once she stopped sleeping most of the way. She loved kicking it to make music and playing with the little toys hanging down. I’m so sad that she’s outgrown it a bit now because it was endless entertainment!

This VTech activity cube is just the type of toy I love – one that will entertain the babe for many, many months! It has a lot of fun stuff for the younger babes, but will also continue to challenge them as they get older. Very multi-purpose if you ask me.

And that’s all I have for you today! Be sure to check in tomorrow because I’ll be sharing what we considered to be the essential baby books to get us through the first year. 

Also, be sure to let me know if there are other products that you consider “baby essentials” in the comments below!