Learn the best first foods for baby, and why it’s perfectly okay to use a combined approach of using baby led weaning and purees.
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First Foods for Baby
Baby led weaning (often called BLW) and purees are both perfectly acceptable ways to introduce a baby to solid foods, but the topic gets heated among moms—and many of us feel the need to insist that there’s just one right way to approach this milestone. In our latest podcast episode, we talked through why this might be, whether you can combine the methods (spoiler alert: you can!) and we’ll get into some basics of BLW with our guest Megan McNamee, MPH, RDN, CLT, and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in pediatric nutrition who runs Feeding Littles.
Tips for Starting Baby Led Weaning
In the episode, Megan shares a bit about the gag reflex, which is something to be aware of when starting blw. Gagging is different than choking though and is most often a sign that baby is learning to move food around in their mouths—and to get it out of their mouths, which is a skill you want them to have! And definitely brush up on the basics of how to know when baby is ready to start solids.
Best First Foods for Baby Led Weaning
Here are some of our favorite first foods to offer baby led weaning style. You want foods to be finger sized so they are large enough that baby can’t force the whole piece into their mouth, and a shape that’s easy for a 6 month old to hold with their chubby little hands. These are some of our favorites.
- Roasted sweet potato wedges
- Roasted apple wedges, skin on to help them hold together
- Roasted or steamed broccoli florets (big enough for baby to hold)
- Toast sticks with mashed avocado
- Avocado spears
- Lamb, on the bone or a large piece for baby to suck on
- Dark meat chicken, on the bone or a large piece for baby to suck on.
Will my baby actually eat much food with BLW?
Probably not at first. There will likely be more tasting of the food than eating of it and that is totally fine. They will still rely on breast milk or formula at this age for their main nutrition, so don’t expect them to suddenly start eating full meals. (They’ll get there in a few months, but it takes time!)
Best First Foods for Purees
Here are some of our favorite purees to start offering baby when they’re ready to start solids. Remember: There’s no evidence that says that you need to start with vegetables versus fruits, so go with something that tastes good to you. Start with single foods pureed smooth and offer just a little at a time on a spoon.
- Mashed roasted sweet potatoes
- Mashed avocado
- Mashed banana
- Applesauce, unsweetened
- Mashed butternut squash
- Mashed peas
How to Let Baby Self Feed Purees
I love offering purees on a preloaded spoon. So you, the parent, puts some of the food on the spoon and hands it to baby. Then baby can bring the food to their mouth all by themselves. This gives you some of the same advantages of baby led weaning, but can be more comfortable for many parents.
Remember, you can mix what you offer, going back and forth between purees and blw finger foods, so you can offer the same food two different ways to let baby explore. The main goal is to avoid forcing baby to take more bites than they want to, which can sometimes happen with purees.
How do I know when baby has had enough?
If your baby is eating and then starts to turn her head away or just refuses to open her mouth, she’s done! Babies may also start to fuss if they’ve had enough. Learning this new skill takes time and babies can become tired fairly quickly into the process, so don’t expect them to always eat very much or to last very long at the table. This stage is about exploration!
Learn How to Start Solids the Easy Way
Feeding Littles has an amazing video course with step-by-step info on how to start solids. It’s a self-paced video course so you can watch (and rewatch!) all of the videos at your own pace. They include videos of real babies eating so you can see what’s normal and the content is in depth and reassuring.
Take $10 off with the code YUMMYTODDLERFOOD at Feeding Littles.
Recipes for Every Stage of Starting Solids
If you’re ready to start solids with baby, or you’re just curious what it looks like to do a mix of baby led weaning and purees, check out my Yummy Baby Food cookbook. It goes stage by stage with specific foods to start in each, with simple recipes and easy feeding tips.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this podcast episode, so please comment below or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you have feedback on meal planning or have a general feeding kids question for us, we’d love to hear from you!