Are you thinking about trying baby led weaning with your little one?
Do you find yourself wondering how to tell your baby is ready for each new stage of the baby led weaning process?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find a quick and thorough list of developmental milestones your baby should reach before introducing new types of foods and textures into his or her diet?
In this article, we’ve got you covered!
Below, we’ve broken down your baby’s milestones month by month and listed plenty of information to help you figure out just where your child is on the baby led weaning process. You’ll be able to look up motor skills, developmental changes, and nutritional needs for each month of the weaning process, and you’ll be able to better choose which foods to start serving along the way, too.
With this guide, you’ll find that the baby led weaning process doesn’t have to be as complicated or overwhelming as it may seem at first. You’ll also have access to more information about which foods are baby-safe every step of the way.
Whether you’re trying to raise a baby led weaning 5 month old child or starting even younger, or if you’re thinking of starting the process a little later on, we’ve got information to help you figure out where your child is on the path to weaning success.
Every baby is different, and your baby may not reach these milestones at exactly the same months we’ve listed, but this is a good framework to help you get started. Read on to learn even more about baby led weaning 1 year old and younger!
When it comes to baby led weaning 4 months may be a little young to start the process. It’s important to carefully watch your baby for signs of weaning readiness at this stage. If you don’t notice these signs showing up just yet, it’s okay to wait a little while before you get started with true weaning. You can always start introducing your baby to his or her baby utensils without any food on them at this stage if you want your child to get used to the idea of holding and maneuvering spoons, cups, and other dishes. Just remember that it’s okay if your child hasn’t gotten to the point of weaning readiness just yet. It’ll happen!
Fine Motor Skills:
- You’ll notice your child starting to rake things toward himself or herself more frequently from this point onward. This is important in developing the skills to self-feed later on down the line. When trying baby led weaning, this may be one of the only methods your child has for reaching food at this point, so expect some extra messes!
- Your little one can hold lightweight toys without assistance at this point. You should also notice your baby moving toys and objects from one hand to the other. Once again, this is a crucial skill to develop for self-feeding purposes.
- When you bounce your baby, you should notice your child supporting his or her weight a little bit more as your baby’s legs strengthen. Although your little one is still some way off from walking at this stage, the motor skills needed for this important milestone are starting to develop, and that can be exciting.
- Your baby has started smiling and laughing by this point in most situations, and you’ll notice your child becoming more and more interested in the rest of the world too. At this stage, your baby is just starting to realize that there’s more to life than just the two of you, and that’s important in terms of eating experiences, too.
- Your baby may start responding to the word “no” at this point, or at least show signs that he or she knows what it means. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will always be heeded, however!
- Your child should recognize his or her name by this point and should turn around to look in the direction of someone who says it. This increased attention is setting your child up for great success when weaning, too.
- Most of your baby’s nutrition still should be coming from breastmilk or formula at this point. Introducing solid foods at this stage is more about getting your baby used to seeing them and handling them and less about supplementing his or her dietary needs.
- Remember that your baby has a very small stomach that isn’t used to solid foods yet. Your child will probably only eat about ½ to 1 tablespoon of solid food per meal at this point. Don’t force your baby to eat more at 4 months.
Foods to Serve:
- You don’t have to begin with rice baby cereal, but you certainly can if you want to. Although baby led weaning is about skipping purees, you still need to choose something that’s very soft, mushy, and poses zero choking hazards for your baby.
- Try starting with avocado or banana for something soft that’s easy for you to mash with a fork on your own. Be sure to get rid of any lumps before serving it.
- You may also try offering very soft and small pieces of toast for your baby to gnaw on at this stage, but be cautious with toast as it can be more of a choking hazard than banana or avocado.
If your child isn’t ready for weaning at four months, you may want to try again at five months. However, many parents at this stage simply wait to try baby led weaning 24 weeks or later instead. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you think your child is ready for weaning at this point. If you feel like your baby is a little bit behind this schedule, that’s okay—you might be better off waiting until the next stage to get started. However, if your baby is keeping up with the milestones listed below, there’s no reason not to give baby led weaning a try!
Fine Motor Skills:
- Your baby should be able to hold his or her head up well without wobbling by this point. If your child hasn’t reached this stage yet, do not begin the weaning process, as food can pose a problem when your baby doesn’t have a clear airway.
- Your baby should be able to sit up without support for a short amount of time by now. Some children may not reach this milestone just yet, but many will.
- Your baby should also be able to roll over by now as well.
- By now, you’ll notice your baby turning around to look at new sounds he or she has never heard before. You should notice even more recognition of his or her own name, too.
- If your baby hasn’t already started putting unfamiliar objects in his or her mouth, you’ll notice it happening a lot by now. This is important for the self-feeding experience, but be sure to keep an eye on things so your baby doesn’t put anything unsafe in his or her mouth.
- You’ll notice babbling by this stage, too. Your baby will feel as though he or she is having a conversation with you, so be sure to respond in an engaging way!
- This is still a stage at which almost all of your baby’s nutrition is coming from breast milk or formula. You shouldn’t be replacing any meals completely at this point with solids, but instead just working on introducing more solid foods as supplements to your child’s diet.
- Your baby should not need any protein or extra calories for now. Because of this, it’s best to stay away from meat and other protein foods, such as tofu, for the time being. Stick to vitamin-rich fruits and veggies to give your baby a little boost without interrupting the nutrition he or she is already getting from liquid food.
Foods to Serve:
- At this point, you should still be sticking largely to bananas and avocados as the foods you’re offering your baby. Continue mashing them completely before serving them to your child.
- If you started serving your baby these fruits at 4 months, you may be able to leave very small lumps at this stage to start working your child toward handling more varied food textures. Take care, however, not to serve anything that could choke your baby.
- Very soft cooked sweet potatoes and butternut squash can be a fun new food to add to your baby’s mealtime fun at this stage, too. Make sure these foods are roasted until they’re extra soft, then peeled and served in bite-size diced pieces after cooling completely.
- Rice cereal for babies or baby oatmeal are also popular options at this stage. Serve these foods as-is for now without adding anything to them. Later on, you can make oatmeal and baby cereal a little more interesting for your child by including fruits or veggies, but for now, one food at a time is best.
When baby led weaning 6 month old infants, it’s important to keep in mind the nutritional needs that are changing at this point in your child’s life. This is a point when your baby is going to begin developing much more quickly and in new and surprising ways almost every day. As a parent, you may feel a little overwhelmed by all the changes that are taking place for your child throughout this crucial stage in his or her infancy, but don’t worry! This is totally normal. Six months is usually the point at which most parents encourage the weaning process to begin if it hasn’t already.
Fine Motor Skills:
- Sitting up should be a lot easier for your baby around this stage, and you’ll notice longer periods of time in which he or she can do so without support. This is important when it comes to safe baby led weaning, because sitting up without assistance means safer and easier food experiences.
- If your baby hasn’t started rolling over already, you’ll probably notice this happening by this stage. You’ll also notice “push-ups” if your baby hasn’t started to do this by now, too.
- Your baby should be able to control his or her head and neck movements very well by this stage, which is another great sign it’s time to start weaning if you haven’t begun the process already.
- By this point, your baby will become more and more interested in what the rest of the family is doing. You’ll notice your child paying close attention at mealtime, especially when he or she gets to sit in a high chair at the dinner table with the rest of the family.
- Your baby should also have lost his or her strong gag reflex by this stage, too. This means solid foods won’t get immediately pushed back out of your child’s mouth as easily, so weaning should come a little more naturally from this point onward.
- Calories should still be coming from breastmilk or formula at this stage, but by now, your baby needs a little more iron in his or her diet than these sources can provide. This is why baby cereal and baby oatmeal are both fortified with iron, and why you should consider including iron-rich foods from here on out.
- Your baby should start being able to handle two types of food at once from this stage, so you might want to try mixing bananas into oatmeal or finding other fun combinations that encourage easier eating experiences.
- If you’re just starting weaning at this stage, remember that your baby will probably only be able to eat ½ to 1 tablespoon of solid foods at a time for a while. If you’ve been weaning for a month or two already, you may need to increase this slightly.
Foods to Serve:
- Rice cereal and soft mashed banana and avocado should still be important staples of your baby’s diet. However, you can start to combine these and add more unique flavors every four days, too.
- Try green beans and carrots at this point in your child’s weaning process. Make sure they’re steamed until very soft and are served in pieces that are small enough not to pose a choking hazard.
- Yellow squash and zucchini can also be fun new ingredients to incorporate into your baby’s diet at this stage. Once again, steam them until they’re very soft and soggy before serving them to your child. You may want to peel them for the first few servings if your baby seems to struggle with the skins.
For your 7 month old baby led weaning is sure to be an exciting experience! From this stage onward, your baby is going to be developing lots of new motor skills and working on his or her mental development much more, too. As your baby’s body changes and your child becomes more active, nutritional needs will continue to change as well. The closer your baby gets to that important first birthday, the less frequently you’ll probably be serving formula or breast milk, so remember that you’re going to need to supplement your child’s diet with more solid foods at this stage if you haven’t already started to. Make sure to ask your pediatrician for more info.
Fine Motor Skills:
- You’ll notice your child picking up objects between his or her thumb and forefinger around seven months or so. This is a vital skill in moving toward successful self-feeding. This pincer motion means your child will be much better at picking up small pieces of food and moving them to his or her mouth.
- Your baby is probably also starting to communicate using gestures, even though he or she still isn’t saying much more than babbling syllables. You’ll notice your child wanting to be more involved with dinnertime as this skill develops, too.
- Your baby is probably crawling pretty successfully by this point, and you might notice the all-important standing up skill developing around now, too. As your baby’s muscles strengthen and motor skills develop, this will eventually progress into walking, but probably not just yet.
- Your baby wants to be part of the family by now. He or she should show recognition of family members that are around much of the time, including siblings instead of just parents. Your baby is becoming more and more inquisitive and interested in the surrounding world every day.
- Food preferences should be becoming apparent, and your baby may start becoming fussy when you offer foods he or she doesn’t like. You can persevere through these budding taste preferences, but make sure your baby is getting plenty of supplemental nutrition if he or she is getting picky about food.
- Your baby’s nutritional needs haven’t changed a lot since the six-month stage, but remember to provide your child with plenty of supplemental iron in his or her diet. Cereal and oatmeal continue to be great sources of this, but you can also introduce a few more iron-rich fruits and vegetables at this stage, too.
- Your baby still relies heavily on breastmilk or formula for nutrition at this stage. Do not plan to wean your child completely off of formula or breast milk until one year of age, since these are vital nutritional sources for your little one.
Foods to Serve:
- You may want to introduce barley into your child’s diet at this stage if you haven’t already. Rice and oats can get boring after a while, so having a third grain option can make things a little more exciting!
- This is a good point to start serving apricots and mangos, too. Make sure to peel them and cut them into pieces that are small enough to be baby-safe. You should also steam them until they’re very soft and easy for your baby to enjoy without any teeth to help chew them.
- Try adding parsnips into your child’s diet by this point, too. Parsnips may be an acquired taste, so don’t be surprised if your baby doesn’t like them at first. You may have better luck combining them with some other favorite vegetables to encourage your child to eat them more easily.
- Peas can be another fun addition, but be careful with them, as they can be more of a potential choking risk than some other types of foods you may be serving at this point.
With baby led weaning 8 months can be a fun time with a few new nutritional needs to keep in mind. If your baby hasn’t started sitting up unassisted yet by this stage, this may be when you notice this crucial motor skill finally coming into place. You may also notice your child getting a lot more dexterous with his or her fingers, and that means self-feeding is going to get a lot easier from here on out, too. Your baby’s personality should be truly shining by now as well, and you’ll notice more and more of your child’s likes and dislikes becoming apparent at mealtime. Be sure to include your baby at the table with the rest of the family!
Fine Motor Skills:
- Your baby is probably starting to cruise by now, or may at least by standing while holding onto furniture or other people for support. Your child’s legs and arms are getting stronger every day as he or she learns to control his or her body more and more, too.
- Your child should be able to pick up objects using his or her fingers against the thumb. This is a little different than the pincer skill developed in the previous stage, but it’s just as important for self-feeding as it means a progression toward the ability to use utensils without help.
- Your baby can also release objects now and should be reaching for items more frequently too.
- Your baby knows what “no” means by now and should show you plenty of signs of recognizing that word, even if he or she doesn’t always listen to it. Depending on your baby’s developmental abilities, he or she might even be saying “no” back to you by now!
- Your child should also be showing signs of preferences more and more frequently. You’ll notice fussiness when it’s time for a diaper change or bedtime, and this fussiness may work its way into the weaning process, too.
- Iron is still your primary concern at this point, but you’ll want to start thinking a little bit more about supplementing the protein your child gets every day, too. For this reason, you can begin to offer small amounts of meat and tofu at the eight-month mark, as long as they’re served in very baby-safe forms.
- Your baby will start to need a little more calcium from this point as well, but you should never give your child straight cow’s milk to drink until after one year of age since it can cause a lot of digestive issues in babies. Your pediatrician may encourage you to try giving your child soft, mild cheese or yogurt at eight months, however.
Foods to Serve:
- Peaches and pears are great new foods to introduce at this stage. Make sure to steam pears until they’re very soft and easy for your baby to eat. Peaches may be able to be served as-is depending on how your baby is doing with chewing and swallowing. You should consider offering some of the softer fruits raw from this stage.
- Pumpkin and butternut squash are sure to bring some exciting new flavors to your baby’s palate now, too. Roast these squashes until they’re very soft and can be scooped out of their skin with a spoon. Let them cool before serving them to your child. You might want to combine them with other vegetables to give your baby new texture experiences.
- Try serving very small, soft bites of chicken, turkey, or tofu at this stage. Do not give your baby fish, pork, or red meat yet. Chicken is a common first protein choice for baby led babies.
Your baby is changing almost every day at this point, and when baby led weaning 9 months is an important time in the process. Nutritional needs will be taking another turn around this point, and your baby will start to get even more of his or her nutrition from solid foods than ever before. You’ll want to start thinking about really varying what you’re offering your child every day, as the more he or she eats, the more easily it is for your child to become bored with the same few flavors or textures all the time. Keep in mind the foods that your baby is capable of handling at this stage and remember, as always, to only offer options that are soft, safe, and easy to chew without causing a choking hazard.
Fine Motor Skills:
- Expect your baby to be crawling by now if this skill hasn’t already started to be developed. You might even notice your child holding a toy in one hand and crawling with the other!
- Cruising will probably begin at this stage if it hasn’t already, as well.
- Your child should be an expert at moving objects from one place to another and into his or her mouth by now, too. This will make self-feeding even easier in the coming months.
- Your baby should start playing with toys that encourage him or her to figure out which pieces go into which part of the toy. This can encourage finger and hand motor skills, as well as critical thinking and reasoning, as your baby’s mental abilities develop.
- Listen closely to your baby’s babbling, because you may notice “hi” and “no” cropping up more and more frequently.
- Your baby should also start to understand what you’re saying more now. For example, if you ask a baby “where’s the cat?” he or she may point to a picture of a cat (or to the family pet).
- Protein should start to become a little more of a concern by now, but remember that breast milk and formula are still a part of your baby’s diet even if you’re starting to work them out of the schedule slowly. However, you can introduce more varied forms of protein from this stage onward, including egg yolks, which are sure to become a quick favorite.
- Dairy is a little more important now, too, as your baby needs more calcium to support good bone growth and development. Stick to the yogurt and mild cheese plan from previous stages, but you can also incorporate cream cheese into your meal plans now, too. Babies are sure to enjoy this new addition!
- Your baby should be on chunky food by now, but it should still be soft enough to be swallowed easily without any risks.
Foods to Serve:
- You can bring a lot more to the table in terms of grains from this stage onward. Try wheat, flax, quinoa, and sesame, and don’t forget to give your baby some pasta now, too! This is a fun time for those photos of baby’s first bowl of spaghetti.
- Bring on some new fruits at nine months, too. Try blueberries, cranberries, and cherries, but always cut them into small, bite-sized pieces instead of offering them whole. You can do this with grapes from this stage, too, but always be careful with foods that could be a choking hazard when served whole.
- Introduce broccoli and cauliflower at nine months, too. Steam these veggies until they’re soft and dice them into small florets for your baby to self-feed. Your child might also enjoy eggplant and mushrooms at this stage, too.
- Egg yolks and beans can be added to the protein options for your baby at nine months and beyond.
When you’re trying baby led weaning 10 months may seem like it’s not a lot different from the previous stage, but it really is! Some babies may develop a lot of pickiness at this stage, but if your child seems to be getting truly picky about what he or she will or won’t eat, don’t get discouraged. You may feel like the weaning process is taking several steps backward at this stage, but this pickiness probably won’t last long! As long as you continue to offer varied foods and try not to spoil your child by only giving the foods he or she wants at every meal, you’ll be able to work through this hurdle with no trouble.
Fine Motor Skills:
- Babies may enjoy walking around the room while holding onto your hands at this point, even though walking unassisted is still a little way away.
- Your child’s coordination should be much better now, and you should notice this especially at mealtime. Your baby should be a pro at self-feeding by hand and should be moving toward improving with utensils by now, too.
- Your baby should have teeth by now, and this means you can offer more unique food textures. However, you’ve probably already started experiencing the pains of teething, so you might need to prepare for a fussy baby for a little while longer, too.
- Your baby should understand what utensils are food at this stage and should at least be mimicking the proper way to use them, even if he or she hasn’t quite grasped it all yet.
- Your baby may know how to wave at this stage.
- As your child’s preferences come to light and teething pains cause certain textures to feel better than others, you’ll need to adapt your mealtime schedules accordingly without necessarily giving in to spoiling your child with his or her favorites. Remember that your baby doesn’t need a lot of sugar in his or her diet, even from fruits!
- Your busy baby needs more protein and carbs at this stage as he or she starts moving around more throughout the day. Encourage your child’s daytime play by supplementing the nutrients in breast milk and formula with plenty of protein-filled snacks.
- A diet packed with calcium is a great way to ensure your baby’s new teeth will be strong and healthy. Keep up with calcium-rich foods in your baby’s solid meals.
Foods to Serve:
- Try cheddar and Colby cheese if you haven’t already introduced these to your child. If you do serve cheddar, make sure to stick to mild for now, especially since the strong taste of sharp cheddar probably won’t be a favorite with your little one.
- Cottage cheese can also be a fun new way of introducing dairy into your baby’s diet.
- If your baby has trouble with dairy, you may want to speak to your pediatrician about trying more soy-based products from this stage onward. Since soy is a common allergen, however, it’s always important to proceed with caution when introducing it, and you should always work with a medical professional when doing so. If you’ve introduced tofu already with no trouble, however, this should go just fine.
- Bring fish and pork into the mix, but be sure both are cooked thoroughly before serving them to your child. Be very careful not to offer any fish that hasn’t had all the bones removed. As always, serve pieces of food that are soft and small enough for your baby to chew and swallow.
- Give your baby onions and fennel at this stage, but go slowly, since these flavors may not be popular at first. You can also incorporate them into baby-safe recipes.
That oh-so-exciting first birthday is just around the corner! While you’re probably making plans for your baby’s big day already, remember to pay close attention to what you’re feeding your child on the baby led weaning path, too. Your baby may be on the go a lot more frequently at this stage, so make sure you’re working toward that sippy cup, too, if you haven’t already introduced it. It will be a lot more convenient to plan meals and plenty of liquids for your child when he or she is on solids and sippy cups both!
Fine Motor Skills:
- Your baby should be getting the hang of self-feeding with a spoon by now if he or she hasn’t already. If you haven’t started introducing a sippy cup by now, this is also a great time to do it, since your child has all the motor skills needed to drink out of it by now.
- You may notice your child standing on tiptoe or on one leg to try to explore what he or she is capable of. This is a sign that your child may be ready to start walking soon, too.
- Your picky baby may still be refusing certain types of food, but you’ll notice your child asking more often for his or her favorites by now too. You may see your baby pointing to the foods he or she wants to eat or otherwise communicating to you that there are strong flavor preferences.
- Temper tantrums may start showing up at this stage, so it’s important to stay patient and work through them as best as possible.
- Your baby can point at items and people when you ask about them much more easily. You may surprise and delight Grandma or Grandpa by asking your child to point to one of them and showing off your baby’s new skills.
- Vitamins are getting more and more important as part of your baby’s diet. By now, you should be down to one or two breastfeeding or formula feeding sessions per day, so you’ll need to be sure you’re giving your child a more balanced solid food diet to make up for this.
- Keep up with protein, calcium, and iron in your baby’s solid foods, too. These will remain important throughout childhood.
- Make sure you’re increasing the amount of food you serve your baby per day to make up for caloric content in the milk or formula you’re cutting out of the feeding schedule.
Foods to Serve:
- If you’ve never introduced citrus before, you can do so without cause for concern at this stage. Bring oranges and grapefruits into the mix, or try serving your baby fish with a little bit of lemon juice squeezed on it for flavor.
- Your baby can handle a variety of spices by now, too. Almost any spice is safe for your baby at this point, but take care not to overdo it with salt, since too much sodium isn’t good for anyone!
- Add tomatoes to your baby’s diet if you haven’t yet, too. Be prepared for them to potentially cause some stomach upset since they’re a bit more acidic than what your child may be used to.
There’s a lot going on when your baby reaches one year of age! If you started baby led weaning at 4 or 6 months, your child should be completely weaned by this point. Even if you started a little bit later, chances are good your baby is ready to be completely on solid foods by now. This is also an important time in terms of bottle and breast weaning, too. Your baby should be drinking from a sippy cup at this point if he or she hasn’t gotten there yet, especially because this is better for your child’s teeth and gums from this point on.
Fine Motor Skills:
- Your baby may have started walking by now, but if not, don’t worry! Some children are happy to begin walking by one year while others are a little more cautious about it. If your baby isn’t walking yet, it’s bound to happen soon.
- Your baby should also be self-feeding by hand very successfully by now, and working a spoon and sippy cup pretty well, too. Your baby’s dexterity has improved a lot, and he or she should be able to help turn pages of a favorite book during reading time as well.
- By now, your baby understands a lot more about what certain items are used for. You’ll notice your child pretending to talk on the phone, for example, or you may see your baby mimicking the use of other household objects. As your child continues to grow, he or she will start to get the hang of all of these soon.
- Your baby should be eating with everyone else at the family table already, but by this point, he or she may be a lot more excited about it. You’ll notice your child getting ready for mealtime and being happy when it’s time to eat. That picky stage should be drifting away soon if it hasn’t already.
- As your baby starts to walk and become more active, carbs and protein will be even more important.
- From this stage, you can give your baby cow’s milk. You should be moving away from breast milk and formula if you haven’t already, as the nutrients in cow’s milk will become more important for your baby’s healthy growth in the following years of life.
Foods to Serve:
- You can safely serve corn to your little one at this stage, and your baby is sure to love it. You can also incorporate spinach and cucumbers into your child’s diet, and as your baby develops all of his or her teeth, these should not be a chewing problem.
- Whole eggs can be introduced at this stage if they haven’t already been.
- You can give your baby softer cheeses with higher dairy content after the twelve-month mark, too. Just make sure you’re careful about the fat content in your baby’s meals.
Do you feel a little bit better about working through the baby led weaning process with your little one now? By now, you should have plenty of information to help you make more educated decisions about which foods to offer at which points throughout the process. And if your baby is a little bit slower or faster than these milestones, don’t worry! You can simply adjust your planning accordingly. Always remember to serve foods that suit your baby’s developmental milestones rather than his or her age in numbers at this point.
But what’s the right baby led weaning age to get started? Most parents begin moving their children toward the weaning process around six months of age. Even though with baby led weaning six months is the most popular starting point, some babies are ready to start weaning as early as four months. You should never, under any circumstances, give solid foods to a baby who is younger than four months of age. If your baby reaches four or even six months and cannot hold up his or her head without help yet, wait until this important function has been mastered before beginning weaning.
You should also try to start the weaning process before one year of age if possible. It’s widely recommended by many health professionals that children should start moving away from bottles and breastfeeding by one year of age, so try to work through the rest of the weaning process by this point if possible, too.
Remember, however, that your child is an individual and may need a different plan than some other children. It’s always important to do what’s best for your baby in terms of his or her developmental signs and what your child’s pediatrician recommends.
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