Are you wondering: How do you serve food with baby led weaning? What finger foods can I give my 6 month old? What are good baby led weaning foods?
You’ve come to the right place!
I’m sharing a list of baby-led weaning food ideas and a guide on how to get started. Safe, easy, and healthy first foods for your baby!
Why We Chose Baby-Led Weaning?
With my first son, we started purees at 4 months old and then transitioned to a combination of purees and baby-led weaning (BLW) a little later. If you are interested you can check out that post here: How To Combine Purees and BLW
We thought we would do a similar approach with our second son, and with the blessing of our pediatrician we plopped him in the high chair at 4 months old and brought out the baby food and spoons.
With the first bite I could tell this was not going to be the same experience as my first. My second kiddo was just not into purees.
We tried for 6 weeks, offering purees at different times of the days, many different foods, both my husband and I feeding him. He just hated the spoon being put in his mouth and the taste and/or texture of the purees.
We gave it a few weeks rest and then at 6 months old we tried a different approach, baby-led weaning!
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-led weaning is an approach to weaning (or starting solid foods) that emphasizes following your baby’s lead instead of spoon feeding, since that is parent-led. This means skipping pureed food and allowing baby to self-feed solid food at a relatively young age.
Before beginning baby-led weaning, it is generally reccomened that your baby be sitting independently or very close so they have the proper head and neck control to support themselves while feeding.
They should also be showing interest in your food by watching you eat and leaning towards or grabbing at your food or spoon. For most babies this is around 6 months old.
Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning
Because BLW is literally “baby-led” there are many benefits of BLW that a baby doesn’t get when they are spoon-fed purees.
Don’t get me wrong, some babies and parents just do better starting with purees and that’s definitely okay! With my first baby I did a combination of purees and BLW. However, there are some undeniable benefits of jumping directly to solids.
- Less meal prep. For the most part, your baby eats what the family eats and you don’t have to take time to make purees or feed the baby store-bought purees before family meal time.
- Emphasizes family meal time. Because you are eating together as a family, your baby gets to watch you eat and be a part of family meal time.
- May reduce picky eating. With BLW, a wide variety of foods, tastes, and textures are introduced early on in your baby’s life.
- Self awareness. Because your baby self-feeds they are able to choose what they eat and how much. They learn to choose what foods taste good to them and how to stop eating when they are full at a very young age.
Should You Worry About Choking with Baby-Led Weaning?
For many parents, the idea of giving your 6 month old baby a large piece of solid food can seem a little intimidating. Won’t they choke?
When done appropriately, choking during BLW is very rare! With my first son we did a combo of purees and BLW and he never choked. My second son also hasn’t choked and he is now 7 months old.
One thing to note is that there is a difference between gagging and choking.
Gagging is very common with babies, especially when just starting out. Gagging is a reflex that happens when an odd textured food or too large of a piece of food gets to the back of their throat; its actually a safety mechanism to avoid choking if the food is too large.
How to tell the difference between gagging and choking? With gagging they will often make a lot of weird noises, cough, and be very animated. With gagging there is silence and a look of sheer panic on the baby’s face. When properly educated on the correct foods and food shapes, choking is very rare with BLW.
How to Choose Foods for Baby-Led Weaning?
Most who do BLW will say that their babies eat what they eat. And to a point, this is true with us too! One of the main benefits of BLW is not having to prepare different meals or feed your baby separately than the family.
There are some guidelines, though, when choosing foods for BLW. Especially baby’s first foods.
- Foods that are soft enough for baby to gum (i.e. it can be squished between your fingers fairly easily)
- Foods should be big enough so that baby can easily hold it in their hand and gnaw or gum the food (i.e practice biting and chewing).
- Foods should be cut appropriately in strips (i’ll go into more detail below!)
Foods to avoid:
- Foods that are too hard –like raw carrots and other veggies– because they are a choking hazard.
- Foods that are too small, they are also a choking hazard.
- No honey (or nothing with honey as an ingredient even when cooked) under 1 year old.
Besides the big red flags above, when cut appropriately (almost) any food can be good for BLW!
How to Cut Foods for Baby-Led Weaning?
Most babies start BLW around 6-7 months of age. At this age most babies don’t have their pincer grasp to be able to pick up small pieces of food and also don’t have many teeth (or ANY teeth, that’s okay!).
A great rule of thumb for BLW foods is to choose foods or cut foods into the shape of your pinky finger.
Foods cut into this shape or “fry shape” are long enough that your baby can easily pick up the food, and when grasping it in a closed fist there is still some sticking out for them to eat. It also means that even if they take a fairly big bite the food is still narrow so they are less likely to have trouble swallowing it.
This shape isn’t a requirement as long as your baby can easily pick up the food and bite off small pieces so they don’t choke. Other examples of foods that are okay and not necessarily this shape are spaghetti, bananas (although you can cut them), or smushed beans or peas.
What About Allergies when Starting Solids?
Many peds will recommend introducing one single food at a time and waiting a few days before introducing any new foods to check for a reaction. If you are concerned about allergies that run in your family definitely consult your pediatrician!
However, based on my research this advice is a little outdated. I personally like to go a little slow with foods and try to do one single food each day (instead of jumping right into meals with multiple ingredients).
Do your research, consult with your pediatrician, and use your mom gut to do what is best for your family!
Favorite BLW Supplies
Crinkle Cutter Knife // To help cut foods into the “fry shape” I love using this crinkle cutter. It can help with foods that are slippery to hold, like avocado and some fruits.
Baby Feeding Chair // we have loved this baby seat for BLW. It comes with its own tray so your table doesn’t get too messy. I also love how easy it is to wipe down an clean. I have learned that with BLW and even into toddlerhood easy to clean is a MUST!
Silicone Bibs // with BLW things will get messy! We love these silicone bibs to keep our baby’s clothes clean during meal time. Then we just rinse them off and hang to dry until the next meal time. The scoop is an added bonus since it catches all the extra solid foods.
Purees & Baby-Led Weaning
While most people thing of purees and baby-led-weaning as opposite approaches, they can definitely be used in combination! My favorite way to practice self-feeding with purees is to let your baby feed themselves instead of the caretaker directly spoon feeding them or sucking out the pouch directly.
Purees can also be a great way for your baby to try new foods they might not otherwise eat (like Bison shown below)!
If you are looking for some clean baby foods, here are some ideas:
- Serenity Kids Pouches (Use JESSICA20 for 20% off)- meat and veggie pouches sourced from small family farms. We love the unique foods and that they are clean and organic.
- Amara Baby Food – organic, no-sugar-added, baby food packets made with superfood ingredients!
Baby-Led Weaning Food Ideas
Okay, now onto the fun part! Baby-led weaning food ideas. These are my son’s first 20 foods that we did using BLW, not necessarily in this order 🙂
- Avocado – avocado slices are a great first food for baby! Make sure they are rips so they are nice and soft. Cut into strips using a knife or krinkle cutter. If you think they are still too slippery, roll in infant rice cereal for a better grip.
- Sweet Potatoes – I like to use homemade for babies because store bought sweet potato fries can have a lot of weird ingredients. I cut up some sweet potatoes into fry shape and cooked them until tender in the air fryer (you could also bake them).
- French Toast – when my first son started solids this was one of his favorite foods and my second son followed suit! Dip your bread in egg and then fry on the griddle. This makes the bed the perfect consistency for beginner eaters. For a super yummy treat, add banana to the batter before cooking.
- Banana slices- one way to serve banana is cut into the classic “fry shape”. Here I coated them with baby rice cereal so they were easier to grasp.
- Cooked Bell Peppers – peppers cut into strips and then cooked can be a great way to introduce new flavors. We tried some red and yellow pepper and steamed them.
- Zucchini – as long as veggies are soft enough, nothing is really off limits! We had grilled zucchini as a family so I cut some up for our baby to try. They are pretty milk tasting and he loved them.
- Strawberries – choose strawberries that are fairly ripe and slice into long pieces. If they seem a little firm you can also cut out the white part in the center to make them softer and easier to gum.
- Banana with Peel – another way to serve a banana for BLW is to cut it roughly in half or thirds. Make a slit around the peel about 1 inch from the cut end of the banana and peel away the peel. This makes it easier for them to hold the banana (bananas are slippery) and also makes sure they don’t take too big of a bite.
- Green Beans – we like fresh green beans since they are often longer than canned or frozen, but either will work. Cook a little extra until they are pretty tender.
- Scrambled eggs – if you are concerned about allergies it is often reccomened to start with just the egg yolk, as the egg white tends to be the part most babies are allergic to. We just jumped right into the full egg and he did just fine! Cook in coconut oil or grass-fed butter to add some healthy fats.
- Waffle strips – I find that waffles are a great texture for BLW; they are a little stiffer than pancakes so they are easier for babies to hold and gum. We love the pumpkin waffles by Kylee Cooks! I used applesauce instead of brown sugar 🙂
- Cucumber – cucumbers can be fairly slipper so they are another great food to cut using the krinkle cutter. Another tip would be to leave the skin on since it can also be used as a grip to make them easier for baby to hold.
- Pasta – choose longer pastas like pene or rotini and boil a little extra until soft. Here he just had plain noodles by themselves, but you can also add pasta sauce!
- Watermelon – watermelon was one of my first son’s favorite first foods and still is! Watermelon basically melts in your mouth and is full of water so its great for BLW. Be sure to remove any seeds.
- String cheese – string cheese or thick cut shredded cheese is a great way to introduce cheese to your baby. I like to choose whole milk string cheese when I can find it for extra healthy fats.
- Pear – this has become our go-to breakfast side dish. Choose pears that are ripe and soft; if they are harder like apples they can be a choking hazard. I like to leave the skins on to help give baby some grip when holding the fruit.
- Shredded Chicken – the first meat we introduced was shredded chicken from the instant pot. Cook it long so it is nice and tender.
- Rotini pasta with red sauce – after we tried pasta by itself, I decided to add some red sauce and my baby loved it! This was a great bridge food to eating pasta with meat sauce that we had as a family dinner one day (he loved that too!).
- Kiwi – kiwis are pretty flavorful and can be a great way to introduce your baby to new flavors. I like to remove the skin, slice, and then cut length wise to get the longest pieces possible.
- Mandarin oranges – we sometimes buy canned mandarin oranges because they are quick and easy. Make sure to buy oranges in 100% juice to avoid artificial sweeteners. Drain, rinse, and dry before serving for BLW.
Thanks for stopping by!
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