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If you’re planning on starting your tiny foodie on solid foods you may be wondering – what are some good first foods for baby-led weaning to start with?
I have put together a list of 18 different food ideas that you can offer your baby-led weaning beginner that is easy on their tummy and soft enough for them to gum.
I also have this awesome cheatsheet below you can snag that will help you know what foods to introduce to your baby throughout their baby-led weaning journey 👇🏼
What Is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is when you allow your baby to self-feed by serving them the same foods you eat at mealtime.
BLW is becoming an increasingly popular method of introducing solid foods to your baby because there are so many benefits, such as:
- Encourages baby to wean themselves on their own time
- Introduces baby to different tastes, textures, & smells
- Teaches your baby to self-feed
- Allows your baby to participate at mealtime with the rest of the family
Related: 10 Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning
When Can You Start Baby-Led Weaning?
The current recommendation, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, is to start your baby on solid foods between 4-6 months of age – as long as they are meeting all the signs of readiness:
- Sitting up on their own or with little support
- Holding their head up and steady
- Opening their mouth when offered a spoon
- Showing interest in the food you are eating
When deciding when to start BLW with your baby I always recommend parents to wait closer to 5-6 months of age.
Your baby needs to be able to self-feed – grab onto food and bring it to their mouth. Most babies won’t reach this developmental milestone until closer to 6 months of age.
3 Tips to Get Started With Baby-Led Weaning
#1: Keep the same breastfeeding or bottle-feeding routine.
When you first start offering your baby solid foods and allowing them to self-feed they are likely going to explore and play with the food – not much is going to end up in their mouth or actually eaten.
All of your baby’s nutrition will still come from breastmilk or formula until your baby reaches 9 months of age.
#2: Offer easy to eat, easy on the belly finger foods cut into sticks or slices.
Your baby will likely not have developed the pincher grasp just yet – when your baby can pick up pieces of food with their pointer finger and thumb.
To make it easy for your baby to self-feed cut the food you offer into sticks or slices.
Sticks and slices should be long enough that part of the food item sticks out from the top and bottom of their fist – about the size of your index finger.
Read below for 18 first foods for baby-led weaning that are easy for your baby to eat when starting out.
#3: Offer a variety of foods.
Introduce your baby to new textures, tastes, and smells by offering a variety of different foods.
You can offer foods you are cooking at mealtime if they are soft and can be cut into strips or slices, so your baby can self-feed.
Let your baby explore new foods.
18 First Foods for Baby-Led Weaning
You want to start with fruits and vegetables that are easy on your baby’s tummy and easy for your baby to manage.
Your baby likely doesn’t have any teeth yet, so it is important to make sure the food you offer is soft enough for your baby to mash with their gums.
- Cooked apple slices
- Nectarine slices
- Pear slices – if the pear isn’t super ripe you can steam them
- Peach slices – make sure the peach is ripe and soft enough
- Plum slices – if the plum isn’t super ripe you can steam them
- Steamed broccoli florets
- Cucumber sticks – make sure they are peeled
- Cooked peas – you can smush them a bit before offering them to your baby if you feel they aren’t soft enough for your baby to gum
- Cooked sweet potato sticks
- Cooked butternut squash
- Cooked yellow squash
- Cooked zucchini sticks
- Steamed green beans
- Steamed carrot sticks – baby carrots or matchstick carrots work best
What If Your Baby Gags?
This is about to be a suuuuper hypocritical section of this blog post because I was the absolute WORST at freaking out every time my son gagged when he started eating solid foods – and I clearly knew better 🙄
So I am going to tell you to relax. I am going to tell you it’s natural. But…it’s also natural for you to have a reaction to your child gagging and choking – it’s a mama instinct.
Let’s at least get educated on why your baby gags and what to do.
Why Your Baby Gags
Gagging is normal!
Your baby gagging is not the same as your baby choking. Gagging is actually your baby’s natural reflex to protect them from choking.
Their gag reflex can be triggered by foods that are too large for your baby to swallow – causing that choking hazard to come back up to the front of the mouth.
What To Do
Make sure your baby is upright when feeding that way when they do gag the food can travel back up to the front of the mouth and avoid choking.
I’d highly recommend first aid training for infants so you know what to do in the event that your baby does choke. Tiny Hood offers an online course, Safety 101: CPR and Choking (0-12 Months), for only $29!
Knowing infant CPR and what to do if my son did actually choke gave me a little bit more peace of mind at mealtime.
How to Know If Your Baby Has An Allergy
It is very unlikely that your child will have an allergic reaction to the foods you feed him or her – not impossible, but I wouldn’t stress.
According to the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is now recommended to introduce common allergens early on. The old recommendation used to be to wait until one year of age.
If you, your spouse, or another child in the household has a serious allergy to food in the household. Consult with your pediatrician on when maybe a good time to introduce this food. They may even opt to perform an allergy test when your baby is of age instead.
If no immediate family members – you, your spouse, or other children – have a serious food allergy, then introduce one new allergen at a time to a baby.
When you introduce common allergens – eggs, nuts, dairy – make sure to introduce in small amounts and introduce no other new foods for at least 3-5 days.
Your baby is more likely to have an intolerance to a certain food – gas or acid reflux – than an allergy. If you suspect any type of allergic reaction to food consult with your pediatrician.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Remember to offer foods in a way that is easy for your baby to manage – cut into sticks or slices – and that is easy for your baby to gum.
Introduce a variety of foods – new foods spaced out 3-5 days – including common allergens. Let baby play and explore at mealtime.
Remember they don’t need much-added nutrition from the solid foods they eat until around 9 months of age. They will continue to get most of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula until then.
Gagging is completely normal and expected, so try not to stress! Take an infant CPR course, so you know what to do if the event occurs.