You and your baby are ready to try some solids, so the next step is figuring out which baby-led weaning foods to try first. The truth is, there’s no hard and fast rule for which food is the easiest or best baby-led weaning food to introduce. This will vary from baby to baby. That’s half the fun of this feeding stage! You and your baby will figure out together what works for them. You let them choose their foods and how much of it.

Most babies are ready to begin trying solids at around six months. If your baby is sitting up, you can start the BLW process. They don’t even need to have teeth! Their gums are plenty powerful and can mash down a lot of foods. Your baby will get their chewing and swallowing skills in order. And increase their fine motor development too!

So let’s dive right in.

Healthy & Safe Baby Led Weaning Foods

While you can try a number of foods from the lists below, do keep in mind your baby’s age during meal prep. If you’re at the beginning of your baby-led weaning journey, start with softer foods that are dissolvable or squishable. They need to be able to gum or chew through it. Once your baby develops their pincer grasp, usually around 9 months, you can step up to more solid foods. At this point, you can also cut food into smaller pieces.

Feel free to keep up formula feeding or breastfeeding as needed. Some babies take to new foods right away, and some don’t. Keep in mind that nutrition is still part of the goal. You want to make sure your baby is getting adequate vitamins and minerals, particularly iron. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to your pediatrician.

Especially as your baby gets older, you may be able to have their meals more closely resemble yours. A bit more deconstructed, but try using the same ingredients. This can simplify meal prep and make mealtimes a family affair.

Fruits

Fruits that are softer can be served raw while crunchier fruits should be cooked until tender. Including the peel, particularly for younger babies, can help them get a better grip.

Apples: You can grate and bake (or steam) these or create chunky applesauce. Keeping the peel here can be helpful, but babies typically can’t gum through this—so remove the peel when the flesh is gone.
Avocado: Cut thin strips or cubes of avocado. Leaving the peel will prevent complete smooshing.
Bananas: Slice these into thirds for easy holding. You can use the peel here too.
Berries: Try sliced strawberries, slightly smashed blueberries, or halved blackberries.
Mangos: Cut into long strips. Be prepared for some slipperiness.
Melons: Cantaloupe or honeydew can be sliced and served. They can be a bit slippery so a crinkle-cut may work well here if you aren’t keeping the peel.
Oranges: Wedge and remove the membrane and pith.
Pears: If they’re very soft and ripe, feel free to serve them raw. If not, steam or bake.
Watermelon: Cut into chunks and use the peel as a handle.

Veggies

With veggies, you have a lot of options. If you’re prepping for yourself and your baby, add salt or more fat to your portion after. You don’t want to give your baby too high of a sodium intake, and it may not be to their taste anyway. Herbs and spices though are lovely for your foodie-in-the-making.

Asparagus: Steam or roast until tender and cut into two to three-inch chunks.
Beets: Roast or steam in thin strips.
Broccoli & Cauliflower: The florets offer a great handle for babies so simply cut them into smaller pieces. Steam until tender.
Butternut Squash: You can roast, grill, steam, or even serve these halved and let your baby go to town. A versatile option.
Green Beans: Cut off the ends and steam. Slice into two to three-inch chunks as needed.
Potatoes: Who doesn’t love a good fry? You’ll want to roast or bake these. Sweet, gold, or purple—dealer’s choice. (Remember to salt yours separately.)
Zucchini: You can treat these like squash. When tender, the peel should be gummable. Or you can grate baked zucchini as well.

Dairy

If your baby has not shown any signs of lactose intolerance, dairy is on the table as a baby-led weaning food. Like other foods, you’ll want to start soft and progress to firmer cheeses as your baby gets older.

Cheese: Cheddar, Jack, Mozzarella, or Swiss, Ricotta
Skip the Limburger for now, and aim for less stinky options. Cube it up.

Plain yogurt: Less sugar and additives than some of the other options. Try using yogurt as a binder for other foods.

Meat, Fish, & Proteins

Proteins are, of course, key to a healthy diet. Meat and fish should be served tender and shredded or flaked. Remove bones, skin, and excess fat.

If you and your family are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, pay attention to protein intake. There are many wonderful vegan baby-led weaning food options too.

Beans: Smashed beans are a great source of protein and fiber.
Beef: Shred and boil beef. Tacos for you, finger food for your baby.
Chicken: Poach, bake, or steam chicken and shred. This can help develop fine motor skills.
Eggs: Although some doctors previously recommended avoiding eggs as a potential allergen, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released new research stating that early introduction to allergens could reduce allergies. So hard boil (and quarter) or scramble away!
Fish: Bake or grill a low-mercury fish and flake. Make sure to remove all the tiny bones!
Hummus: Like yogurt, this can also be used as a binder or a dip.
Meatballs: Halved and tender, these are a great option for you and your baby to be eating the same thing.
Tofu: Raw or cooked, tofu is a great finger food. Use firm or extra firm tofu as soft tofu can be too slippery for tiny baby hands.

Grains

With grains, whole grain is best. If you’re a baker, this can be a place to shine. Homemade baked goods will likely have less sugar, trans fats, and other additives than store-bought.

Cereal: Once your baby has the pincer grip down, cereal like Cheerios or puffs. They can also easily mix with saliva and break down.
Muffins: With whole-wheat flour and some fruit or vegetable ingredients, you and your infant can have healthy, tasty breakfasts. Cut into strips or chunks.
Oatmeal: Bake your oatmeal and slice into strips. You can also serve in clumps.
Pasta: Cook whole-grain pasta until very tender. Small shapes are easier. Start plain and build up to sauces as your baby begins trying more foods.
Toast: Slice into two to three-inch strips. You can add a nut butter for more protein. Or mashed fruits and veggies for other vitamins and minerals.

Baby-Led Weaning Cookbooks

If you need more ideas for how to prep your baby’s meals, there are several cookbooks with helpful tips and recipes. Here are a few options:

The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley PhD and Tracey Muskett
This book is a comprehensive guide to baby-led weaning and includes over 130 recipes for you and your infant to try. In 2019, the authors published a second volume with 99 more recipes.

Starting Solids by Annabel Karmel
Karmel offers 50 recipes and thoughtful advice for handling a variety of feeding issues from her experience as a children’s nutritionist. The book also includes menu planners and more practical tips.

Parents Need To Eat Too by Debbie Koenig
While this book is inclusive of the entire eating process, it’s an excellent resource for a parent who needs to save some time. From one-handed recipes to tips for how to batch cook for the whole family, Koenig helps new parents lower the stress around mealtime.

Remember, there’s no specific order you have to try these foods. It’s baby-led weaning after all! So let those taste buds explore. Starting them young with a varied diet can promote healthy eating habits in the future. You’ll still want to watch out for signs of an allergic reaction and supervise your baby during mealtime. Wondering what else you should be thinking about as a new parent? Finding child care help. When you’re ready for a break, Sittercity can help you find the care that you and your baby need.

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