Around six months of your age, your baby is gaining good control of their head, and can sit upright without support in a chair. They are also beginning to lose their reflex known as the “tongue-thrust,” where they instinctively push solids out of their mouths with their tongue. Your baby’s sense of curiosity is beginning to develop as well. All of these developmental milestones come together to make it the perfect time to start introducing your child to solid foods.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
With baby led weaning, you let your growing and developing baby lead the way. In the past, weaning your baby mean pureeing foods and feeding them to baby with a spoon, or buying expensive jars of prepackaged processed baby food. When you let your baby lead the way, you simply cut up meats, vegetables, and fruits into smaller portions that are easy for baby to grasp on their own.
Preparing Solid Foods for Weaning
Some of baby’s first foods can be served raw, such as sliced bananas that have been gently smashed. Other first foods will need to be lightly steamed or otherwise cooked until they can be easily smashed into pieces between baby’s fingers, such as slices of apple and sweet potato cut into sticks or strips.
Getting Started with Finger Foods
To get started with baby led weaning, place your baby in their high chair and place two or three bite-sized pieces of food directly on the tray. Starting out with just a little bit of food will prevent baby from feeling overwhelmed.
You will also want to skip the use of bowls, plates or utensils to make it easy for baby to reach and grab hold of the food with their fingers.
You may want to place a washable, or disposable plastic tablecloth beneath the high chair to make clean up easier and quicker.
11 Additional First Food Choices for Baby Led Weaning
In addition to bananas, apples, and sweet potatoes, the following are 11 additional great first foods to let your baby try out as you introduce solids into their diet.
In the past, parents often served finely milled versions of rice as porridge to their young babies. In baby led weaning it’s perfectly fine to allow your child to get used to the texture, taste, and feel of whole grains of cooked rice. Start off with white or brown rice that has been boiled or steamed.
Slice the carrot into short, skinny sticks and then steam them so that they are soft and easy to chew, but also easy for baby to grasp and hold in their hand.
The cooked yellow yoke of the egg is safe to eat between 6 and 12 months of age. After 12 months, the entire egg can be consumed once it’s cooked. Eggs are also a great source of iron and when scrambled the yolk or whole egg is easy for baby to pick up between their fingers.
Meats such as Chicken and Beef
Slice beef or chicken into sticks and boil until soft to help baby enjoy a protein-packed boost that’s also a good source of iron. You can also prepare meals such as pot roast, or grilled chicken or fish, for the whole family. Be certain to remove any bones, and then simply slice some of the meat into sticks for baby.
If you prefer to avoid meats, firm tofu that has been sliced into sticks is easy for baby to grasp and chew.
Green beans are a great choice for first foods because they are already stick shaped, and are easy to either boil or steam until they are soft, which will save you a bit of prep time.
Whole Wheat Toast
Lightly toast the slices of bread and then slice them into smaller sized sticks. These are great by themselves, and perfect to help soothe baby’s gums when teething begins. You can also top them with healthy spreads made from fruits and vegetables, such as applesauce, or hummus.
Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse of healthy oils and several vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin K, Folate, and several B vitamins. Serve it raw, in slices, or smash some up and spread on toast.
Elbow macaroni and similar pasta are perfect baby’s small fingers and hands. You can serve them plain, or with a sauce made from cheese, tomato, or even some healthy yogurt!
Beets are a great source of many vitamins and minerals including phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium and fiber. Cut beet slices into sticks and then gently boil or steam.
Ripe Fresh Fruit: Pears, Peaches, Plums and Melons
When ripe, fruits such as plums, pears, and peaches as well as melons such as cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon, can be sliced into sticks or triangles and served raw to your baby. You can also use a crinkle cutter tool to cut edges into the slices and make it easier for baby to hold.
As you begin to introduce your baby to solid foods, don’t forget to make meal time a family affair. Allowing baby to eat in their high chair as the family is gathered around to the table next to them will help to encourage your baby to want to try new foods. For safety, remember to always offer solid foods while your baby is sitting, preferably in their high chair, to decrease the risk of gagging or choking on their food.