When my twins were babies (they’re 9 now), I did the whole pureed baby food thing. It was fun, I guess, but it required SO much work! That’s because I made it all at home from scratch. There was cooking, blending, even straining at the beginning. And then for each meal I would sit them in their highchairs, and spoon feed mush into their mouths. Actually, I like those memories, and it was a fine way to go! 🙂 If you are going the pureed route, that is just fine! I had never even heard of Baby Led Weaning back then.
Then, when my little guy (now almost 2) reached 6 months, I thought I’d probably do the same thing. I offered him some pureed food, he turned it down. Again, and again, and again. Those pouches? No thanks! He was always grabbing the rest of the family’s food, he wanted no part in “baby food”.
So I started searching and learned about Baby Led Weaning, which is not really weaning, more like Baby Self-Directed Feeding. I was nervous about choking, but he seemed to know what he was doing. So I approached the whole thing very slowly and carefully. And you know what? It was kind of awesome. He has been feeding himself ever since, and he is SUCH a fantastic eater.
I’m not sure if there is any connection, but he is by far my least picky eater. My older son had a really hard time switching from purees to table food. He loved the mush, and then became SO picky when the mush was gone. He loved pureed blueberries, squash, peas, broccoli, but wouldn’t touch the whole food version. So I’m a big fan of this way of feeding babies!
What is Baby Led Weaning all about?
- Baby has the freedom to explore food at his or her own pace. They are offered appropriate finger foods and allowed to explore textures and taste as they desire.
- Baby can choose how quickly (or slowly) to eat, how much to eat and what they want to eat.
- I’ll be honest, it can be very messy! I had to clean the highchair and the floor after every meal for months! But it was worth it. 🙂
You can get the book here: Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide. My only problem with the book and most everything else out there on this topic is that it’s really hard to find plant-based recipes and guidance.
TOP 10 foods for plant-based baby led weaning:
I am by no means a Baby Led Weaning expert, but these were my favorite foods to feed my son when he was just starting to eat. I was not one to give my 6 month old a raw apple, I was very careful to feed him only very soft foods for quite a while, and that’s what I would recommend.
1. Banana: The perfect first food for baby. Make sure to feed your baby ripe bananas, as the greener ones will be too hard for young babies to handle. When baby is young (6-12 months) and before they have mastered the pincer grasp, this is a great way to offer the banana to them. Carefully slice an inch off the peel. This way your baby can grip the banana and munch off the top part. As they eat it, just cut off more of the peel and hand it back to baby.
2. Avocado: This is also a great first food for baby! My favorite way to feed my baby avocado is in slices, without the peel. I saw several videos where people were giving their baby avocado slices with the peel on to help with grip, but I tried it once and he managed to get some of the peel in his mouth which scared me, so I never did that again. This is so messy at first, but babies love it!
3. Pears: Peel the pear for a young baby, and only give it super ripe. If it’s ripe enough, you can also steam it for a few minutes to soften it. Give the pear in slices or even whole with some of the pear peeled.
4. Steamed carrots: Peel and cut the carrots into sticks. Steam for 8-10 minutes until very soft. Let cool before serving. You can also roast the carrot sticks. I would use a little spray of olive oil or water to make sure they stay moist and don’t get super crispy or chewy. Roast at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until very soft.
5. Broccoli: Steam broccoli florets for 8-10 minutes, until very soft. Let cool and serve. This was a favorite of my baby for a long time, then he decided he wouldn’t touch it, and now he likes it again!
6. Cooked Zucchini: Cut the zucchini into half moons and steam for 5-6 minutes. You could also saute in a little olive oil for a few minutes or roast in the oven. Just make sure it’s soft enough for baby.
7. Cooked apples: I know some Baby Led Weaning people are giving young babies raw apples whole, but I would not recommend it. I just started giving my nearly 2 year old raw apple slices and pieces a few months ago. Instead, peel the apple, cut into slices baby could hold, and cook until soft. You can do this on the stovetop and steam them, or place them in a bowl, add a little water to almost cover, and heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. For extra deliciousness, sprinkle on some cinnamon.
8. Sweet Potatoes: Another favorite here! My little one is still obsessed with sweet potatoes. Peel and cut into thick strips and roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and soft. You can also peel and cut into rounds and bake.
9. Watermelon: The best way to serve baby watermelon is in little sticks like the photo above. You can also just do chunks, but I found this way to be the most manageable for a young baby. Make sure there are NO black seeds in there.
10. Oatmeal Fingers: These are just the best thing ever for a baby. See this recipe for detailed instructions. Mash 1/4 of a banana in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1/4 cup quick oats, 1/4 cup almond/soy or even breast milk and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon. Microwave for 2 minutes, let cool, and cut into strips baby can pick up. This is still my son’s breakfast every morning, though I double it now that he’s older and sometimes add hemp/flax seeds, apples and raisins.
- Remember to consult with your child’s pediatrician before starting any solid food introduction and discuss any allergy risks with them.
- Avoid high-risk choking foods such as grapes, cherry tomatoes, popcorn and nuts.
- Don’t add salt to food or feed baby foods with salt in them.
- Don’t feed babies under 1 honey or foods made with honey (like honey wheat bread, for example)
- Understand the signs of choking and how to respond if your baby does choke. Take a class, or at least do some online education.
Hi! I’m really glad I found your site. My daughter is practically vegan and because I’m still breastfeeding her, I became vegan too.
It’s very convenient because we named my daughter Nora so it seems like this site is very suiting. I’m always looking for vegan blw recipes but I struggle because Nora is also soy free, gluten free and oat free. I try my best to switch it up but sometimes I run out of ideas.
Hi! I’ve recently started blw with my 7 month old and wasn’t quite sure if I’m on the right track… This post is really helpful. Thank you!
My problem is that when I offer my daughter soft finger food (avocado for example) and she tries to hold it, it gets completely mashed in her hand and loses its finger shape and size immediately. Did this happen to you too? Any ideas how to avoid this? Of course I dont want to give her food that isn’t as soft because her chewing is still not great…
Hi Sheli! My youngest is now 5 so it has been awhile, but I do remember him smushing soft foods in his hands. 🙂 It was a very messy time! I’m not sure I have any advice, I know some people will give a banana with some of the peel on, but cut, as a handle of sorts, but I personally didn’t do that because I was afraid my son would accidentally eat and choke on some of the peel.
Ugh this was soo helpful and exaxtly what I needed! Gold after a looong search for easy, healthy recipes for feeding my 11 month old. THANK YOU!!!
Hi Sue. I’m thrilled that this is helpful for you! Thank you for sharing and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Thank you for the advice on giving apples! My baby finally will eat apple prepared this way. ❤️
Thank you for this post!!! It has given me the strength I need! My 7-month-old today has been turning her head at purées and feeding her has been such a nightmare for the past month. I’m so sad because it’s been so different than my first baby (now two) who ate purées from day one like a champ. Like you, I also home-made all my purées and I’ve been through several vegetables without any success. Today she turns 7 months and I’m ready to try something new although I’m terrified of the choking. But we just can’t keep failing with purée! This post has given me the push I need to do BLW!
That’s so great to hear!
These are awesome, I have been thinking of trying more “adult-ish ” foods for my girl but wasn’t sure how to start. I’m so happy I found this.
I’m so glad it’s helpful!
My baby is 9 months old and we did purées but I’m introducing her to finger foods – just wondered if the slicing and preparing and such is the same for an older baby? Thanks in advance!
I’m not a baby led weaning expert or baby food expert, but as a mom, I continued to prepare finger foods this way for my baby until he was over a year old, slowly introducing more texture as it felt safe.
Did you purée these foods initially, before giving them in cut up pieces?
No, I did not puree them first.
Just curious if you did one item at a time in the very beginning of BLW intro or did you mix. If mixing, how much did you mix…not reslly bothering about it or did you purpousefully mix?
I didn’t follow an exact pattern, but for the first few foods I waited a few days in between. I don’t have any allergies at all in my family though, so I didn’t expect my son to have any either.