Starting with finger foods is recommended from 7 months in typically developing children. However, information on which finger foods are appropriate and accepted for which age is largely lacking. The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine whether chewing skills, hand motor skills, and other personal and food characteristics influence the intake of finger foods in early life. Thirty children aged 12 to 18 months participated in this study. All children were offered four finger foods in a fixed order on four consecutive days at their home. Two finger foods varied mainly in texture (fresh banana vs. freeze-dried banana) and two other finger foods mainly in shape (stick vs. heart shaped cracker). The intake was measured after ten minutes of exposure to the product. Chewing skills were measured with the Mastication Observation and Evaluation instrument and fine motor skills with selected items of the Bayley-III-NL scales. The results suggest that texture but not shape was found to affect intake, as fresh banana was eaten more than freeze-dried banana and the consumed quantity of the two crackers was not significantly different. Hand motor skills affected the intake of fresh banana only and chewing skills did not affect intake of any of the finger foods. Age and experience with chewable foods were associated with an increased intake of some of the finger foods. In conclusion, the intake of the four finger foods in this study was found to be mainly affected by texture, hand motor skills, age and experience.
Remijn, L., da Costa, S., Bodde, C., Gerding, R., Weenen, H., Vereijken, C., & van der Schans, C. (2019). Hand motor skills affect the intake of finger foods in toddlers (12–18 months). Food quality and preference, 74, 142-146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2019.01.019