Fé’s First Bites | Step-by-step guide to Baby-Led Weaning

Hey, Everyone! You may have already read my post about Fé’s first bites discussing the difference between baby-led and traditional weaning. We have chosen to do a combination of both. I am feeding Fé some purees while also giving her the opportunity to try finger foods.

If you are just starting your baby weaning journey (like we are) here is my step-by-step guide to baby-led weaning!

Step 1: Is Your Child Ready?

Make sure your child is ready for weaning. The UK suggests that babies should be at least 6-months old before you begin weaning. According to the NHS, they will show signs that they are ready when they can:

  1. Sit. Babies should be able to stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
  2. Coordination. Your little one should be able to coordinate their eyes, hands, and mouth so they will be able to bring foods to their mouths themselves
  3. Swallow Food. Babies Should no longer have their tongue thrust reflex that pushes food out of their mouth instead of swallowing.

Your baby will let you know when they are ready. There is no need to rush baby-led weaning. If your child is not ready, simply try it another time (in a few weeks or so). There is no need to worry that they are not getting enough nutrients. Mothers Milk or Baby Formula provides sufficient nutrition until they are one-year-old.

See This post about choosing which weaning method is right for you!

Step 2: Choose Your Time

Start with one meal a day to sit down with your child and start weaning. BLW encourages family/social eating so choose a time when you will be eating at well. I personally have chosen to share lunch with Fé.

As your baby progresses, you can add in more meals. Since Mothers Milk or Formula provides all of the necessary nutrients, there is no reason for them to need to eat three meals a day. Choose what works and is convenient for you. If you have a busy day ahead, choose to spend breakfast together. If that doesn’t work you may even choose a snack time. It doesn’t matter what time, as long as it is a chunk of time set aside specifically for weaning.

Step 3: Set up your baby’s eating area & Gather products

Check out this list of 50+ Products for Baby’s First Foods! 

For baby led weaning, babies should either sit in a high chair and eat off of the tray or sit on someone’s lap and eat off of the table. I suggest getting a high-quality high chair with a tray. The high-chair should have a belt and harness to keep baby safe and protected during eating sessions.

It will be messy. To account for messes use a bib. Waterproof bib’s with sleeves are great for messy eaters. You may also want to put something underneath the highchair like a painting sheet, newspapers, plastic, or this Plastic Floormat to keep your floors clean =)

Step 4: Choose Foods & Prepare their meal

See below for a HUGE list of baby’s first foods!

The easiest way to do baby-led weaning is to feed your child what you are eating (minus the added salt and sugar). For example, for lunch today, I had a slice of toast with avocado and an egg. I have Fé a bit of mashed up avocado and a few slices of bread with a thin layer of butter.

You may also choose to do a combination of both BLW and Traditional. Is this is the case you may want to start with spoon-feeding? If you are starting with pureed foods, prepare their meal.

Keep in mind that there ate foods that your baby cannot eat.

Foods to Avoid:

To Puree Foods:

  • Wash and chop veggies or fruit
  • Place in a saucepan and cover with water
  • Boil the food until it is soft
  • Strain and blend in a food processor or blender
  • For thinner puree add more of the cooking water

For finger foods, steam, boil, or roast vegetables until soft. (For roasting: roast in an oven at 180C/ 350F) Place food directly on their tray to avoid an even bigger mess!

Step 5: Start Feeding & Go Slow

Led your baby lead the way. If offering finger foods, they may play with it, mash it in their hands, throw it around, explore it, and then MAYBE taste it. At first, no food may actually ever enter the baby’s mouth! Eventually, however, your baby will start to eat =)

If spoon-feeding, wait until your baby’s mouth is open. Don’t force food into their mouths. Offer small bites and give your baby time to discover the taste and texture, and let your baby swallow.

Step 6: Offer Water

Offer water in a sippy cup for baby to drink. When they start eating solids they could become dehydrated and it is a good idea to introduce drinking water from a sippy cup =)

Don’t worry if they don’t eat much at first. They will eventually! Weaning is about exploring, discovering, learning, and most importantly, it’s about having FUN. Your child will get the hang of eating and by the time they are one, they will have no problem eating solids. Take the time to enjoy the experience and take lots of pictures!

Check out this step-by-step guide to baby-led weaning! Plus TONS of foods & Recipes! #baby… Click To Tweet

Tips for Introducing Solids

  1.  Forget Traditional “baby food” Babies can simply eat whatever is in your kitchen. Leftovers from last night are great =) Frozen fruit from your freezer is awesome. Be creative!
  2. Avoid the Plates and Bowls! Plates and bowls are a recipe for disaster, place foods directly on the tray!
  3. Time meals in between feeds. This way baby is neither full nor hungry. They will be more likely to actually eat during their meal!
  4. Offer only a few pieces at once. Too many pieces of food on the tray will overwhelm your baby and may turn them off from eating. Offer only a few pieces of food at once.
  5. Baby may gag but don’t panic! Gagging is a baby’s way of moving food from the back of their mouth to the front. There will be gagging but it is normal and nothing to worry about.
  6. Take lots of pictures. You will not want to forget how funny or cute your little one is when they try their first foods! Get out the camera (let’s be real, just grab your phone) and capture these precious moments!

Note: If your baby is choking perform infant CPR and call your emergency line IMMEDIATELY!

 

Choking baby

Picture was taken from mhealth.org

 Ready to start? Here is a HUGE list of baby’s first foods!

baby-led weaning guide

Fruit (you can also puree any fruit!):

  • Banana Slices Peeled ripe bananas
  • Kiwi slices
  • Avocado Slices  Yes! Avocado is a Fruit! Use this Avocado Slicer to achieve perfectly sliced avocados
  • Soft Sliced Stone Fruit Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines, or Plums
  • Strawberries or Blueberries
  • Melons Cut into sticks
  • Soft Baked Apples Or try making homemade applesauce
  • Orange Slices
  • Tropical fruit Pineapple, mangos, papaya, etc.

Vegetables:

  • Steamed, boiled or roasted Carrot sticks, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, baby corn
  • Peppers Cook peppers slightly and cut them into strips
  • Broccoli of Cauliflower steamed or boiled
  • Green Beans or Asparagus Cooked or boiled
  • Cooked Spinach or Kale
  • Roasted Pumpkin or butternut squash
  • Cooked Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Roasted Zucchini or Eggplant 
  • Raw Cucumbers
  • Sliced Tomatoes

baby-led weaning guide

Starches:

  • Baby Rice Go for Organic!
  • Baby Cereal made with pasteurized whole milk, breastmilk, or formula
  • Oatmeal made with pasteurized whole milk, breastmilk, or formula
  • Porridge made with pasteurized whole milk, breastmilk, or formula
  • Quinoa
  • Bread with butter Offer whole grain bread with little preservatives or additives. Serve with a thin slice of butter
  • Organic Rice Cakes
  • Organic Teething Biscuits Try Happy Baby Organic Teething Wafers
  • Cooked Pasta Serve with or without sauce or cheese
  • Bagel
  • Whole Wheat Toaster Waffle

Protein:

  • Cooked Chicken Breast Cut up into pieces or shredded
  • Cooked Turkey Breast Cut up into pieces or shredded
  • Cooked Beef
  • Cooked Lamb
  • Cooked Pork
  • Cooked Fish Be Sure to remove all bones
  • Scrambled Egg Make sure egg is fully cooked
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas Try Pureeing them to make hummus!
  • Beans 

baby-led weaning guide

Dairy:

  • Full Fat Pasteurized Plain Yogurt
  • Full Fat Pasteurized Greek Yogurt
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Cheese Sticks

First Food Combos:

  • Pureed Pumpkin & Banana
  • Porridge & Banana
  • Fruit Smoothie Strawberries, Bananas, Blueberries, Full Fat Yogurt, Whole Milk. Blended until smooth
  • Blended Banana & Avocado
  • Pumpkin, Banana, Applesauce
  • Banana & Applesauce
  • Mango & Yogurt Blend full-fat yogurt with Mango
  • Tropical Fruit Blend Chop up pineapple, mango, and melon
  • Blueberries, Peaches, & Oatmeal Make 1/4 Cup Oatmeal and add blueberries and 1 ripe peach.
  • Fruit Puree & Full Fat Yogurt
  • Potato & Spinach Puree
  • Lentils & Butternut Squash Cooked lentils mixed with roasted or boiled butternut squash

More Mature Combos:

  • Pasta with Sauce Skip the added salt!
  • Pasta with Mozzarella Cheese
  • Toast with cheese
  • Rice with meat
  • Chicken and Steamed Veggies
  • Beans and Rice
  • Beans, Rice, and Tomato Cooked rice served with beans cooked with chopped tomatoes
  • Bagel with Cream Cheese
  • Toaster Waffle with Cream cheese and Jam
  • Beef & Green Beans
  • Lentils cooked with coconut milk
  • Chickpea & Coriander Stew Chickpeas cooked with 1 can chopped tomatoes, coriander, and onion
  • Cucumber Sandwiches Cucumber sandwich with cream cheese

These are just a few examples of all the meals you could serve your baby! The possibilities are endless! For more recipe idea check out the following books!

baby-led weaning guide
baby-led weaning guide
baby-led weaning guide
baby-led weaning guide
baby-led weaning guide

Fé’s First Bites | Introducing Solid Foods

Fé just had her 6-month birthday (check out her 6-month old check-in) so we have officially started introducing solid foods! There are a lot of different techniques on how to introduce solid foods. Here in the UK, they promote baby-led weaning, which basically means you give them finger foods and serve them the same sorts of foods that we eat. Traditional weaning methods have babies eat pureed foods that gradually get chunkier until they are able to eat normal adult foods.

I really like the idea of baby-led weaning. Basically, you start feeding your baby the same foods that you eat from a very young age (6-months). For example, we have (tried) given Fé a half a banana, slices of avocado, cucumber slices, carrot slices, and more.

6-month baby update

The idea is that they are able to pick up the food and eat it themselves. They first get used to different textures and tastes before they start feeding themselves full meals. Many of the other moms in my baby group have had a lot of success with baby-led weaning. Fé, on the other hand, isn’t too keen on the idea. She doesn’t quite understand that the food has to go into her mouth. After a couple of failed attempts at trying to get her to eat solids, I turned to a more traditional weaning method. I served her pureed pumpkin and she really enjoyed it!

Anyway, I wanted to share a comparison between baby-led weaning and traditional weaning!

Baby-led weaning

What is Baby-led weaning?

The method of letting your child feed themselves from very early on. The method was originally created by UK health visitor and midwife Gill Rapely. The idea is that babies can feed themselves normal adult foods from the beginning of weaning. That means no mush, purees, or food preparation, and makes it very easy for mommy and daddy.

I totally agree the idea that Fé will start eating normal foods seems so easy! In practice, however, Fé just doesn’t eat. I have found that traditional weaning (at least for now) works best for Fé.

Advantages

  • Baby learns to eat on their own/ becomes an independent eater
  • Easy, requires very little preparation (baby eats the same foods as you!)
  • Encourages social eating and family eating
  • Research suggests it reduces the chance of ending up with a picky eater

Disadvantages

  • Gagging or choking hazard
  • Messy
  • Child may not eat very much at first
  • Hard to gauge how much child is eating

Baby-led weaning

What is Traditional Weaning?

Also known as the five-step-weaning plan. This is where you slowly introduce solids in different stages. Start with pureed foods, then mush, then add some chunks. By the time they are one they should be eating proper solids.

I have found that Fé enjoys eating pureed foods much better than trying to figure out finger foods.

Advantages

  • Easier to gauge how much baby is eating
  • Easier to introduce Iron Rich foods
  • No choking or gagging
  • Less messy

Disadvantages

  • Time-consuming, meal preparation
  • More of a hassle (if you are out and about it may be difficult to prepare a meal)
  • May have a more difficult time transitioning to full solids later on

Baby-led Weaning

What we are trying…The Mixed Method

I am trying to do a combination of both baby-led and traditional weaning. I am feeding her pureed foods while also slowly introducing solids. I have found that for Fé (and myself) this seems to be the best approach.

She is able to experience different tastes and textures by exploring food on her own while we also spoon feed pureed or mashed foods. This makes it easier for us to actually feed Fé while she gets the same experience (or similar) as children who are exclusively Baby-led. I am not very strict on how pureed the food is. I am not necessarily following a traditional method of started with very pureed foods, then mushy, then more chunky. She is also still eating many of the same foods I eat. For example, we serve her oatmeal, smoothies, applesauce, yogurt etc. These are normal “adult” foods that are easily spoon-fed! I also let Fé play with her own spoon while I use another spoon to feed her foods. This allows for her to get used to the idea of feeding herself by using utensils and practice her fine motor skills =)

At the end of the day, it is all about what works best for you and your baby! Some baby’s in my baby group LOVE solid foods and their moms have had no problem introducing solids to them. Some moms love the traditional weaning method. For many, doing a mixture of both works well! Good luck on your baby weaning journey!

Baby-led weaning

More Information on Baby Weaning

For more information on baby-led weaning and traditional weaning check out these websites and books:

Websites/ Articles:

Books:

Products for Weaning

Bowls, Plates, Spoons, & Cups:

Storage & Feeding Kits

 

Food Preparation:

Bibs & Accessories:

Furniture

 

 

Baby-led weaning
Baby-led weaning
Baby-led weaning
Baby-Led Weaning
Baby-led weaning