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.