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Baby Led Weaning Foods

Baby Led Weaning Foods: What's the Best Foods to Use When Starting?

If you’ve heard about baby led weaning (BLW), you might be interested in this new (old) method of weaning baby onto solid food. (After all, our ancestors didn’t have blenders to create purees or refrigerators to keep them in!)

Baby led weaning simply means that you let baby explore feeding himself while he still gets most of his nourishment from breast milk or formula. Start at around six months or so when he’s physically mature enough to sit up on his own and pick up bits of food. Ideally he would then put them in his mouth and eat them, but let’s be real here – most of the food will end up anywhere and everywhere else, especially in the beginning. That’s okay. It’s all part of the process.

Baby Led Weaning Foods: What's the Best Foods to Use When Starting?

What to feed baby

So baby led weaning sounds like a great idea – but what do you feed him? Depending on your baby’s age he can eat almost anything older children can. (Remember, baby led weaning should start at six months or older.) If you’re breast feeding, baby is introduced to the flavours of your favourite foods through your milk, so that will make things easier. In general you should start with soft, easily gummable foods. Cut them into batons the right size for little hands to hold, lay out a selection on his high chair and let him figure it out. He’ll probably see them more as toys than actual nourishment, but if you let him eat with the family he’ll soon learn to copy what the big people are doing. It’s a good idea to let him have his milk in a sippy cup first so he’s not that hungry. Feeding himself will be difficult at first, and hunger will just make him frustrated and upset. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
  • Soft fruits like banana, avocado and melon
  • Steamed hard fruit such as apples, pears and mangoes
  • Steamed vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and broccoli
  • Boiled egg yolks
  • Chunks of soft pasteurised cheeses
  • Roasted sweet potato or pumpkin
  • Steamed asparagus
  • Pieces of cooked liver (lots of iron)
  • Soft cooked pieces of whatever you’re having for dinner (minus the salt)

If you can squish the food between your finger and thumb, it’s probably fine for baby. And don’t be afraid to introduce baby to grown up food. If you’re having pasta you can give him a few pasta shapes in sauce. As baby gets older, give him thick cut cucumber chips and pieces of tender meat.

Baby led weaning foods to avoid

Baby’s digestive and immune systems are still developing, so wait until he’s older to introduce more difficult foods.
  • Foods that might lead to choking, such as grapes, cherry and grape tomatoes, nuts, and whole sausages
  • Foods cooked with salt or sugar
  • Unhealthy and processed foods like lollies, chips, popcorn and soft drinks
  • Honey (wait until baby is 12 months)
  • Foods that have a stimulating effect, like chocolate

Potential allergens

Advice has changed on when to introduce potential allergens. Studies show that it's best to introduce foods that cause common allergies earlier, rather than later. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy recommends introducing foods like egg, peanuts, shellfish, soy, sesame, wheat and dairy before your child's first birthday. Give it to your child in an age appropriate form, like smooth peanut butter on toast, or well cooked egg pieces. To maintain tolerance to these foods, give them to your baby twice a week. It's important to note that if your baby does have a reaction to any food, stop giving it and seek medical advice.

Helpful accessories

Baby led weaning is a messy process, but there are some tools that can make things easier for you.

Find this article helpful? Want to know more about BLW? Read our article on the pros and cons of Baby Led Weaning here

Main image: Deposit Photos

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