The Awesome List of Baby Led Weaning Best First Foods
Are you interested in trying baby led weaning for your child?
Have you given it a shot before but been unsuccessful due to choosing the wrong kinds of foods?
Or have you never tried it but heard good things about how easy weaning can be when you go this route?
Whatever your reason, if you’re looking for information about how to choose the best foods to start baby led weaning, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ve got a lot of information for you that’s sure to make the baby led weaning process much easier—whether you’ve had experience with it in the past or not! In the first part of the article, we’ll break down some basics on how to choose the right types of foods depending on the age and progress of your little one. We’ll give you plenty of tips to make the decision much simpler.
After that, we’ll offer suggestions for what foods to start baby led weaning no matter what age your child might be. We’ll give you some ideas based on the different stages of weaning your baby might be going through, so you can best figure out which foods to start offering your baby as soon as possible.
The weaning process is never an easy one, but when you practice baby led weaning, you may be able to enjoy a much smoother and simpler transition for your child overall. And your baby is sure to be happy with this decision, too!
Read on to learn more.
How Important is Choosing the Right First Foods?
Picking the right first foods for your baby is incredibly important. It may mean the difference between a successful weaning experience and one that goes sour for you and your baby both. It also may make a difference in providing the right nutritional and safety values for your baby, both of which should be your top priority with any type of weaning experience!
Picking the right foods involves finding the right balance between what’s healthy, what’s safe, and what your baby enjoys eating. There isn’t a lot of evidence to support weaning with pureed foods anymore, but if your baby likes purees or you feel safer using them for the first few weeks of the process, you can always make your own at home and move to true baby led weaning from there.
Picking Foods for 5 to 6-month-old Babies
Before we get started talking about choosing foods for these stages, it’s important to note that it’s not often recommended to begin the weaning process at five months old. With that said, however, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just remember that some babies haven’t developed enough to eat on their own safely by this point, and some babies may not have fully developed digestive systems by this time, either.
Follow these tips to help you pick the right foods for very young babies who are beginning on the baby led weaning process:
- Always offer breastmilk or formula along with solid foods. As time goes on, you’ll be able to taper off from the amount of milk you give your child, but especially early on, your baby will still need to get nutrients this way instead of only from solid foods.
- Always choose foods that have been cut into small strips or bite-sized pieces.
- Always choose foods that are soft naturally or have been cooked until they are very soft and mushy.
- Avoid foods that may cause allergic reactions.
Choosing the Right Finger Foods for Older Babies
As your baby gets older, a baby led weaning first foods list that he or she can enjoy safely will grow almost monthly. This is exciting because it means your baby will be able to try a lot of new foods and start to develop his or her own personal palate! However, this also means you’ll need to take extra care in choosing the healthier options for your baby, especially as he or she starts to pick favorites among the foods you serve.
Here are some tips that can help you figure out the best and safest foods to offer to older infants on the baby led weaning journey:
- Offer proteins after six or seven months of age. Chicken is a great first protein, but babies can have just about any type of protein as long as it’s cooked soft and offered in bite-sized portions.
- Don’t add salt or sugar to the foods you prepare for your baby. Take care not to cook them in fats like oil or butter, either—although a small amount of olive oil (around 1 tsp) should be fine in some instances.
- Stay away from processed foods. Your child shouldn’t be given candy, potato chips, fast food, sugary foods, or any cereal other than plain rice cereal even as he or she ages.
Best Foods to Start Baby Led Weaning
A baby led weaning first meal can be an exciting time for you and your little one. This means your child is ready to start moving away from bottle feeding or breastfeeding, depending on how things have been going so far. While you may feel a little apprehensive about the weaning process—and your baby may, too!—don’t worry. This is a natural step in your child’s growth, and baby led weaning can help make the transition even easier for everyone involved.
Lots of baby led weaning infants get started with avocado as a first food, and it remains an excellent choice for most babies. Choose a very ripe, but not over-ripe, avocado that can be easily mashed with a fork before serving it to your baby. Letting your baby deal with a small bowl of mashed avocado with no assistance is a good start to the weaning process.
a. As your baby ages, you can spread mashed avocado on all sorts of foods to make them more interesting. Try it on toast strips or serve it with soft cooked chicken mixed in for some baby led weaning favorites!
2. Soft cooked carrots
This is another popular choice for a first solid food for babies. Carrots can be either full-size or baby carrots, but they should always be cut into very small bite size pieces that your baby can pick up with his or her fingers and eat without causing a choking hazard.
a. Always cook carrots until they are very soft. Carrots are naturally not soft at all, so even though it seems soft to you, your baby still may have a hard time munching on a piece of carrot. Steam carrots in a small amount of water for best results.
When practicing baby led weaning banana is usually one of the first foods offered to most children. Even babies who are weaned the traditional way often see a banana as a first food! This is a very nutritious fruit that can be served without having to cook it first. It also doesn’t usually cause a lot of allergic reactions and it’s very mild on the stomach and easy to digest, too.
a. Bananas should be chosen when they’re very ripe but haven’t turned completely brown yet. Mash them with a fork and give them to your baby in a bowl, with or without a spoon. This could get messy, but your baby will love it! Later on, you can mix mashed banana into just about anything you might want to serve your little one.
4. Soft cooked green beans
This is yet another favorite among babies who are just learning to eat solid foods. Green beans can be cut into small pieces and should be served to younger infants with the “skin” parts removed. Older babies can handle both the inside and the outside of green beans easily.
a. When preparing green beans for babies, steam them in a small amount of water until they get very soft. Alternately, you can boil them in water until they get even softer, which may be a better choice for very young children. You should always cut green beans into smaller pieces before serving them to babies. Do not serve infants canned green beans, as they contain too much sodium and will be very unhealthy for your child.
5. Soft cooked apples
In baby led weaning apples are a staple! They are popular with babies because of their naturally higher sugar content. However, because of this, it’s important to remember not to overdo it when giving your baby apples. Never serve your baby any apple recipe or applesauce that has had additional sugar added, since there’s already so much in apples, to begin with.
a. When preparing apples for infants, first peel them completely. Babies will be unable to handle the skin of apples for a while, as it’s harder to chew and even harder to digest. Choose red delicious apples for best results, as green or yellow apples may be too sour for babies to enjoy.
b. Steam apples in a small amount of water or roast them in the oven until they are very soft and mushy. You can either cut them into diced pieces and serve them as-is or mash them up into a sort of homemade applesauce before serving to your baby.
Baby Led Weaning First Foods 5 Months
When you choose baby led weaning first foods 5 months may feel a little early to get started. However, depending on the development of your baby, you may find that he or she is ready to start with some solid first foods at this point. Only begin this process at this age if your baby has developed enough to sit up without assistance and hold up his or her head successfully with no support. Otherwise, you may need to wait another month—and if so, you can check out the following section for tips on what to give your baby then, too!
In baby led weaning pear is a real treat! Even the smallest of baby led weaning infants can enjoy small pieces of soft pear. Pear is a naturally soft fruit, but when your child is still very young, you should steam pears in a small amount of water to ensure that they aren’t a choking hazard and will be easy to gum if your child doesn’t have any teeth yet.
a. Pears are very flavorful and your child will probably develop an interest in eating them again and again. This can be a tasty treat for your baby, but take care to offer a balanced diet that doesn’t focus on one food alone.
2. Sweet potatoes
If you’re just getting started with baby led weaning sweet potato can be a good solution, depending on how it’s prepared. In their natural state, sweet potatoes are very hard and fibrous, so it’s important to prepare them correctly before you give them to your baby. No matter how you prepare your sweet potatoes, always peel them entirely before giving them to an infant, as the peel can be hard to eat and tough to digest, too.
a. The best way to prepare sweet potatoes for babies is to cut them into cubes and steam them. However, you can also roast them in the oven and then cut them into cubes afterward. You may also choose to boil and mash them before serving. In any of these cases, do not add butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, or any other ingredients. Always serve sweet potatoes to babies with no additives.
3. Butternut squash
Butternut squash is a lot like sweet potatoes. This vegetable should be prepared and served correctly to ensure that your baby has a safe eating experience with it. As with most baby led weaning foods, do not add butter, salt, or any other fats or seasonings to the squash before giving it to your baby.
a. Cut butternut squash in half and roast it in the oven until it’s very soft and mushy on the inside. Scoop it out of the “shell” and let it cool before serving it to your baby. You may also choose to dice it into small bite-size cubes before serving instead.
4. Rice cereal
There are some baby led weaning fans who believe rice cereal should be avoided at all costs, while others still think it’s a great first solid food for babies. There are pros and cons to choosing it, but if you want to give it to your baby, there’s no reason not to. Just remember to closely monitor your baby for any choking hazards, and don’t give too much rice cereal without balancing it with other types of food.
a. Some people believe rice cereal can lead babies to develop a reliance on sugary foods or grains too early. If you’re worried about this, you can hold off on rice cereal until later on in the weaning process if you choose.
5. Cooked oats
Baby-safe oatmeal is a quick and easy way to give your infant something soft and nutritious to enjoy. Simply prepare oatmeal with a little bit of breastmilk or formula and serve it to your baby, with or without your assistance with a spoon. You may also choose to mash a soft banana into the oatmeal before giving it to your child.
a. As your baby ages, you can add more to cooked oats to make them appetizing and keep them interesting. Try them with just about any type of soft cooked fruit as your baby gets more and more capable of eating solid foods. Be careful with sticky ingredients such as mango, however, as this could cause the oatmeal to form into larger pieces that may not be as safe for small babies.
Baby Led Weaning First Foods 6 Months
When considering when to introduce baby led weaning first foods 6 months is often considered the best starting point. This is when most children are ready to begin weaning by any process, and baby led weaning is a little bit safer at this age. Listed here are some of the most popular foods to offer to children who have reached this stage in the weaning process. Since this may be near the beginning of your baby’s weaning adventure, be sure to take extra care when choosing safe foods for your little one.
Apricots are a good choice for baby led weaning because they’re very soft and can be gummed easily if necessary. However, as with any fruit, it’s always very important to ensure you cut it up into small and manageable pieces before giving it to your baby. You may want to heat apricot pieces in the microwave for a few seconds to soften them, but be sure to let them cool before giving them to your child.
a. Although purees are generally frowned upon by the baby led weaning community, you can still always consider mashing your apricots and serving them as a sort of spread on top of small pieces of toast for a tasty breakfast-style treat for your baby.
Mangos are a popular first food choice for a lot of baby led weaning infants. These are soft and mushy fruits by nature, and they don’t have to be cooked before they’re given to babies. They don’t pose much of a choking hazard, but they do have a stringy texture, so you should always monitor your child with a mango piece even if it’s a small one, just in case.
a. Mango can be a very gooey and syrupy fruit by nature, so this could be a messy food for your baby. If your infant is still very young, it’s a good idea to cut the mango into small strips to make it much safer and more manageable for your little one to enjoy. You can also mash a soft piece of mango up and let your baby enjoy eating it in an even softer form.
3. Yellow squash and zucchini
If you’re interested in letting your baby try vegetables for the first time, yellow squash and zucchini are both excellent options. These vegetables are very closely related to one another, and both of them are very mild and easy on little tummies. Never add salt, butter, or oil to these veggies when preparing them for your baby to enjoy.
a. Yellow squash and zucchini are popular because they can be cut into small sticks and cooked until they are very soft. They become almost soggy when steamed, which makes them an excellent choice for small babies who need to be served something that isn’t a choking hazard.
4. Plain yogurt
When your baby reaches six months of age, he or she may be ready to try dairy for the first time. However, if you’ll be serving your infant plain yogurt, it’s important to start with very small servings and wait a few days in between each serving to ensure that your child doesn’t have a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance.
a. Always choose plain yogurt that is made with whole milk and doesn’t contain any added sugars or flavors. As your child ages, you can add extras to the yogurt you serve, such as fresh fruit pieces or vegetables for dipping purposes.
5. Soft cooked chicken
This is a great time to start your child on proteins, and soft cooked chicken is most baby led weaning infants’ first protein. Choose good-quality chicken breasts when you’ll be preparing chicken for your baby, and be sure not to cook them in olive oil or butter. Your baby doesn’t need any additional fats, so just bake your chicken in a non-stick cooking spray for best results.
a. When serving soft cooked chicken to your baby, always tear it into small pieces that are bite-sized and manageable for your child. You may also choose to cut the chicken into cubes instead, but smaller babies may do better with shredded chicken instead.
Baby Led Weaning Finger Food Ideas
Baby led weaning first finger foods can be exciting for you and your baby both! These are foods your child can easily pick up and eat without your assistance at all, although you still should cut these foods into pieces that are manageable and safe for your baby. In this section, you’ll find a lot of excellent ideas for what to let your baby eat when he or she is ready to get on to true finger foods.
1. Broccoli cheese muffins
In baby led weaning cheese should be introduced later on, but when your child reaches the point where he or she can eat it, it can make for a great option in a lot of different finger foods. You can easily make a batch of baby-safe broccoli cheese muffins combining flour, grated cheddar, chopped broccoli florets, milk or breastmilk/formula, and 1 beaten egg. There’s no need to add any salt or other seasonings to this muffin recipe.
a. If you like, you can make a batch for the older members of the family that does contain other seasonings, and put together a second batch for baby. This way, your little one will be able to feel involved in what the whole family is eating.
2. Scrambled egg
Although you do want to wait a little while to offer eggs to your baby, you can start introducing them a month or so into the baby led weaning process. While scrambled eggs may not seem like much of a finger food in terms of portability, they can be a great way for your baby to start practicing picking up and chewing on softer foods.
a. Scrambled eggs are a good option because they don’t pose very much of a choking hazard. However, since eggs can be an allergen, pay attention to potential signs of allergic reaction for a few days after the first time you introduce them.
Toast is a fun and simple way to give your baby a tasty finger food that can be topped with just about anything. Toast should always be a little bit soft when offered to younger babies, and it should always be cut into fingers or small cubes, depending on the age of your child.
a. Top toast with almond butter, mashed banana, or mashed avocado for some delicious snack ideas. As your baby gets older, you can try adding a little bit of cream cheese to the toast as well.
4. Yogurt with fruit
Plain whole milk yogurt is a yummy way to introduce more dairy options into your baby’s diet. Once again, this may not be a portable finger food, but when served with pieces of fresh fruit, your baby can learn to pick up and “dip” the fruit in the yogurt for a tasty and refreshing snack.
a. In baby led weaning strawberries can be a nice option but may need to be avoided for a while. They are a common allergen and may cause a rash to break out on your baby’s face after eating them for the first time. For the first few times you serve yogurt, stick to apples, mangos, and pears, or other fruits your baby will enjoy that aren’t known to cause allergic reactions.
5. Black beans
If you want your baby to learn to pick up individual small pieces of food and manage them easily without assistance, black beans are a great solution. You can prepare a small cup of these beans and give them to older babies who have progressed somewhat in the baby led weaning process.
a. Do not give black beans to very young babies, as they may pose a choking hazard. Always thoroughly cook black beans before serving them, and do not serve canned black beans without carefully rinsing them to remove additional sodium first.
Baby Led Weaning Snack Ideas
On any given baby led weaning first foods chart, snack ideas are sometimes overlooked or don’t have as much detail as meal ideas do. It can be a little more challenging to come up with nutritious and safe snacks for your little one, but with some creativity, you’re sure to come up with some excellent ideas that make you and your baby both happy.
1. Fresh fruit
There’s nothing quite like a snack of fresh fruit to make things easy for you and tasty for your little one! While your baby will probably be eating fresh fruit from the very beginning of the baby led weaning experience, you can start to introduce more and more options for your child as he or she progresses through the process.
a. When baby led weaning grapes should be avoided until your child is much older, as they may pose a significant choking hazard even when cut into pieces. However, otherwise, as your baby ages and learns more eating abilities, he or she can be introduced to a lot of other types of fruit. After one year of age or so, fruit may not have to be cooked before serving it.
2. Baby oatmeal bars
There are a lot of great recipes available for baby oatmeal bars, and they’re very quick and easy to make too. They usually only contain a few ingredients and are almost always sugar-free. Sometimes, you can include fruit into the mix to make these snacks even tastier for your little one.
a. These bars can be easily made by stirring 4 tbsp of rolled oats into a mashed ripe banana. You may also choose to add raisins if your child is able to eat them without causing a choking hazard. These bars can then be rolled out and baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes for a quick and tasty treat.
3. Quarter of a “sandwich”
If your baby is up to eating bread or toast as well as proteins, you can serve a baby-safe “sandwich” quarter when your child is old enough to pick it up and eat it without assistance. Put slices of sodium-free turkey or chicken breast lunchmeat or pieces of cooked soft chicken between two slices of toast.
a. You may also want to add some tasty mashed avocado as a spread. There are also a lot of baby-safe hummus recipes available that can make for a nice alternative to fattier options such as mayonnaise on a sandwich.
4. Boiled egg
When your child gets a little bit older, he or she is sure to enjoy a tasty boiled egg for a snack. This is a fun option because if you like boiled eggs yourself, you and your baby can have the same snack together! This is also a great, healthy way to give your baby some extra protein and vitamins throughout the day.
a. Boiled eggs should be served to babies either cut into small cubes or, for older infants and children, sliced in half lengthwise so they can be picked up and bitten easily. Do not add any salt, pepper, or other seasonings to a boiled egg for baby led weaning purposes.
5. Sugar-free pancakes
Babies and toddlers both are sure to love the taste of a warm and filling sugar-free pancake for a snack! While these can also double as excellent breakfast (or any meal) options, they make for wonderful snacks because they can become portable very easily.
a. For your baby’s health, refrain from using syrup on pancakes until your child has grown to several years old, at least. If you want to give your baby something to munch on along with the pancakes, try fresh fruits or some mashed banana to spread on top of the pancake pieces.
5 Considerations When Choosing Foods for Baby
While the right food for your baby depends on the stage of his or her weaning progress as well as his or her specific tastes, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when you’re looking for solid foods to offer your child. Keep these tips in mind when you’re trying to decide whether or not your infant is ready for the next step in the baby led weaning process. In baby led weaning best first foods may differ greatly from one baby to the next, but the same general rules still apply.
1. Choose foods that are nutritionally good for your baby.
When it comes to baby led weaning first food ideas, nutrition should be one of the first two considerations you keep in mind. You don’t want to give your baby something that will cause him or her to gain unnecessary weight, and you do want to provide your child with a balanced diet so his or her bones and body can grow strong and healthy from day one.
2. Choose foods that don’t pose a choking hazard.
This is the other most important consideration to keep in mind, along with nutritional value. Your baby is developing quickly, but he or she might not yet be ready for solid foods, depending on how well he or she can swallow. If your baby cannot hold up his or her own head for too long or cannot sit up without assistance, it’s too early to start baby led weaning. Even when your baby reaches these milestones, be very careful not to offer foods that could be a choking hazard.
3. Choose foods that are low in sugar content.
Sugar can become addictive to babies from very early on, and this can cause bad food habits into older childhood and even throughout your child’s life. Starting your baby on healthy foods that are low in sugar content is a great way to set up your child for success in terms of healthy eating in the future. Natural sugars, such as those found in fruit, are fine in moderation.
4. Choose foods that don’t usually lead to allergic reactions.
Eventually, you will need to introduce these foods to your child, but they aren’t good options for the first few foods you offer. Stay away from eggs, dairy, shellfish, soy, peanuts, strawberries, peanut butter, and other common food allergens until you’ve established a few things your baby can eat with no trouble. Always pay close attention for any sign of allergic reaction in your baby.
5. Choose foods that can be prepared and served with no additives.
Baby led weaning finger food ideas come in all shapes and sizes, but the best options are those that don’t need to be prepared with salt, sugar, butter, or any other additives. Early on, your baby can handle a small amount of olive oil if necessary, but for the most part, it’s better to give your child foods that can be served as-is or cooked without any of these extra ingredients.
Wow! Did you know there were so many excellent baby led weaning starter foods out there? If you’ve never looked up much information about this topic before, you might not have realized how many incredible choices you really have when you’re trying to decide what to start with. No matter which stage of the weaning process your baby is in, there’s a perfect set of foods out there just waiting for your little one to discover them.
When it comes to baby led weaning what foods to start with can be a tricky decision to make, but as long as you keep the tips from this article in mind, you’ll be able to succeed with no trouble. Working with your baby to determine the right options for his or her needs can make a huge difference with this weaning process.
Disclaimer: As with any decisions you make about your baby, talk to your pediatrician first before you begin baby led weaning. There are potential hazards with baby led weaning, and it is possible for your infant to choke on improper foods for his or her age. Always monitor your baby closely while eating. If you feel that a food is too difficult for your child to eat, wait to offer it at a later time. All babies progress differently and some may take longer than others to reach weaning milestones.