Roll up your sleeves, because we’re about to wade into some serious parent stuff: baby-led weaning. I like to think of baby-led weaning as more of an introduction to solid foods than a regular source of a nutrition for my babies. The idea is to get them used to food, and exposure is the first step to having a kid who loves to eat! Touching is encouraged in this phase, too. Just go ahead and stock up on cleaning supplies now, actually.
Baby-led weaning can be really intimidating, and sometimes downright terrifying, but it’s worked really well for our family, so I thought I’d share our experiences with you.
Helpful Tips Before Getting Started
• Introduce new foods one at a time to help identify potential allergens.
• Always introduce new foods at breakfast or lunch so you can watch for signs of reaction.
• Cut food into the shape and size of a french fry. This makes it easier to hold and helps prevent choking.
• Cook everything just enough so that it’s firm enough to grab but will easily mush between your fingers, or toothless gums.
Typically, the introduction to solid foods can begin anywhere from five to seven months. We found the magic age to start weaning for us was six months, and while that’s a very normal time to begin, you’re obviously the best judge of when your kid is ready to start checking out real food.
The number one most important thing to know before starting this process is there will be gagging. Like, so much gagging. Just remember, gagging is completely different from choking. Their gag reflexes are much closer to the front of their mouth than ours, so while it super scary for us, babies can usually work the food back out on their own. I recommend being up to date on baby Heimlich and CPR at all times for the rare — and I mean very, very rare — chance they do choke. It’s a good idea to be up to date on these, anyway, so you’ll be prepared for anything.
With both my boys, I’m not sure they actually swallowed much food at first. It was mostly just exploration and getting used to new textures for them, and a huge exercise in patience for me. In the beginning, Lee would make the worst face every time he put food in his mouth. Three months later, he’s eating everything we put on his tray and loving every bite (you can tell from those chunky thighs!).
Weaning Foods My Babies Loved
• all fruit (bananas especially are the perfect texture)
• steamed broccoli
• steamed cauliflower
• broccoli rice casserole
• scrambled eggs
• toast with peanut butter
• meatloaf or meatballs
• deli meat
• ground chicken
• ground turkey
• rotisserie chicken
• shredded cheese
• Kashi Organic Autumn Wheat cereal soaked in either breastmilk or regular milk
• bagels with cream cheese
• 3-ingredient banana pancakes (1 brown banana, 1 egg, 1 Tbsp flour)
My Go-To Resources For Baby-Led Weaning Advice
I’ve learned so much about weaning from trial and error, but I’d be crazy not to mention my a few of my favorite sources on this subject. The two books below have given me guidance, reassurance and some fun, new ideas to make this transition to solid foods as easy on everyone as possible.
The first book I read was “Baby Led Weaning,” and it taught me so much about how to approach this stage of their lives.
My second book suggestion is “Baby Food Universe.” It’s been beyond helpful, and I’m not sure I could live without it. I also love following her on Instagram @BabyFoodUniverse and checking in on the Facebook group for inspiration when I get into a baby food funk.
I highly recommend reading both these books, but if you can’t — I know you probably have zero time — here’s a list of some of my favorite online resources:
What are your go-to sources for this topic? Do you have any tips or tricks I should know?