As a new mother, weaning your child can be daunting. There are many decisions you’ll need to make.
One of those decisions will be to decide which foods to introduce to your baby to first. The foods you decide will set course for the coming weeks, so choosing wisely is imperative.
Typically the first baby led weaning foods will be the same as spoon-led feeding with purées. These foods include: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, avocado, bananas and so on.
It’s important to introduce vegetables before fruits as babies need to get used to the taste of non sweet food items. In this article we will discuss the different types of foods that can be introduced if you choose the baby led weaning method.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The links below may be affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
How Do You Know Your Baby Is Ready To Be Weaned?
Up until your baby is six months old, it is advisable only to give them breast milk or formula. Your baby will be ready to wean around the 6 months mark, this is when medical professionals advise you should introduce solid foods.
Ideally, the only thing your baby needs to survive and thrive in the first six months is breast milk. However, we understand it is not possible to always have a successful breastfeeding experience.
In this situation, where exclusive breastfeeding is not possible in the first six months, it is still advisable to give formula exclusively instead of introducing solid foods sooner.
Reason for this is, being breastfed or formula fed exclusively for the first six months will give babies greater immunity from illnesses. Their digestive systems will have time to mature and your baby will be developmentally ready to eat solid foods.
Once you introduce solid foods that does not mean that you drastically decrease feeding your baby breast milk or formula. Milk is still their main source of nutrition and food until they are 10 months and over.
In order to prevent your baby from lowering their milk intake, some breastfeeding consultants advise mothers to feed their baby milk first and then offer solid food.
There are three signs to look out for:
- They are able to sit in a sitting position holding their head steady without support.
- They are able to swallow food instead of spit it straight out
- Their hand eye mouth co-ordination is good and they are able to pick up finger foods bring it up to their mouth using their fingers.
Some parents mistake their baby chewing their hands and asking for extra night feeds as cues they are ready to wean. This is incorrect as these are normal baby behaviors that shouldn’t be mistaken for hunger cues.
What Is Baby Led Weaning
This is a style of technique used to introduce foods to a baby when they are ready to wean. Unlike spoon feeding where mothers prepare their baby’s weaning food by making a purée, with baby led weaning it couldn’t be more easier and convenient.
Whichever food you’re looking to offer you baby, you should cut it in a way that they are able to pick it up using their fingers independently. So for an avocado, you would cut it long ways as finger foods which allows your baby to pick it up and take the avocado to their mouth and bite easily.
This is a popular method for weaning as it means less preparation for mothers, in terms of blending purées and spoon feeding. With baby led weaning, the most important rule is to keep the food in front of them and let them eat it themselves.
This is why, if you choose this method to introduce solids to your baby it’s crucial that you invest in a high chair that’s comfortable, has an adequate tray attached or a high chair that can be conveniently pushed right up against the table.
This is so that it’s easy for your baby to pick the food up from their plate or tray in the same manner as we pick up food from our plates. Be warned momma – it will get messy! Purée feeding has its disadvantages, but the biggest advantage is you get to avoid the mess!
It’s also important to note here that with baby led weaning you follow your baby’s lead. If they just take a nibble or a taste you can not force or push them to eat more.
It’s literally baby led – so they decide and choose how much they consume. This is different to purée spoon feeding as the mother usually keeps feeding their baby until the purée is finished.
So Which Foods Should You Introduce First?
Remember the goal is to get your baby comfortable with the idea of solid food going into their mouth. It is not about filling their stomach. Breast milk and formula will continue to be their main source of food for many more months to come!
It’s vital to start with savory flavors first namely vegetables so that your baby doesn’t develop a preference for sweet foods like fruits over vegetables. If you introduce an apple first and then offer a broccoli – chances are your baby will not be interested in the broccoli at all!
Offer the same food for three days before you offer them something new. This is so they get used to and comfortable to one type of flavor, texture and smell before moving on to a new type of food.
Please note the foods should generally be soft enough for your baby to be able to squish between their fingers and chew with their gums. These can include:
This is nutritious, sweet and textured perfectly for a first weaning food. Simply cut the sweet potato into chips 1/2 inch thick and bake them in the oven until they’re roasted. Add some olive oil on top.
This makes for an ideal first weaning food with a sweet nutty flavor as well as being nutritionally dense. You can either steam it or roast it with some olive oil similar to the the sweet potatoes. Remember to cut the squash in big chunks easy for your baby to grip.
Steamed so they’re soft enough where your baby can’t choke on any hard pieces, carrots are an ideal first finger food with a pleasing flavor and texture. High in vitamins, it is also nutritionally beneficial for your baby’s developing diet.
You can offer a floret of broccoli to your baby. You can either steam it until it’s cooked and soft enough to chew or roast it in the oven.
A popular finger food for weaning – cut your toast into strips. You can spread cream cheese on top or peanut butter.
Cut the avocado up into straight strips. The texture is soft enough for your baby’s gums to chew and swallow.
Whilst these are thinner than other foods you’ll be offering, it’s easier for baby’s to pick up and take to the mouth. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they’re not swallowing large pieces all at once.
Lamb / Beef / Chicken
If you are offering a non vegetarian diet to your baby, then cooked meat strips are ideal for your baby to chew and suck on especially to get used to the different textures.
Boiled penne pasta is a good finger food to offer. At first maybe drizzled with olive oil and no sauce. Try to opt for whole wheat organic pasta.
Omelette cut into strips or large pieces are a good nutritious option. Fried in butter will give if some flavor as well as softness.
As with sweet potatoes, these can be cut into strips as chips and baked in the oven with olive oil drizzled over. High in fiber, this starchy food will make for a nutritious and delicious first food for your baby.
You can also introduce soft fruits once you’ve introduced the non sweet food items. These will include:
An extremely nutritious combination is banana and avocado – once you start introducing more than one flavors at a time it’ll be good to offer both banana pieces and avocado since the texture is similar.
These can be steamed or roasted as to soften them for your baby’s gums to chew and swallow.
These are easy to grasp and soft textured making them easy to chew making them a great choice for first weaning foods.
Similarly, to the fruits above – the soft juicy texture allows the baby to suck the juice and bite into the melon with ease.
As discussed, there’s plenty of information here to get you started on your baby led weaning journey with your baby! Enjoy this milestone as it’s a special time in you and your baby’s life.
If you’ve decided to go down the baby led weaning route then make sure you are cutting the foods in the correct format. Without any pressure, follow your baby’s lead on how much they want to eat and taste the food you have offered.