Starting your baby on solids can be an exciting yet confusing time. My husband and I decided to skip purees and spoon feeding altogether and instead opted for baby led weaning with our little ones.
Baby led weaning is the process whereby children feed themselves from the very start. There are basically two schools of thought: some believe that giving your baby large food is best to prevent choking while others claim that small pieces are best. There is no right or wrong answer; just use your discretion.
Regardless of your stance, all proponents of baby led weaning state that it is important to wait until your baby is at least six months old before starting them on solid foods. Baby should be able to sit up without assistance, have lost the tongue thrust reflex, and ought to be able to grasp and hold on to foods.
Here are eight foods to kick start your baby led weaning process.
Avocado makes a great first food for babies. It is soft and creamy but not squishy, allowing babies to easily grip slices in their hands.
Besides its texture, the mono-saturated fat found in avocado aids baby’s brain and physical development.
Avocados contain valuable nutrients including fibre, potassium, vitamin E, folate, and iron. They are also free from sodium and cholesterol.
Bananas are great for baby led weaning. They have a natural handle, making it easy for little hands to grasp.
They are also very soft and smooth in texture, allowing babies to easily mash them with their jaws.
For babies just getting a handle on eating, leaving the peel on is perhaps the best way to serve them banana. Simply chop the banana in half (with the skin still on), peel down the skin about an inch and a half, and let baby eat/play with one half. Leaving the peel lets baby get a firm grip on the otherwise slimy banana.
There is also a delightful recipe for two-ingredient banana pancakes that are great for baby led weaning and older children as well.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Pardon me for my bias, but what is there not to love about sweet potatoes? I mean, really! They’re nature’s perfect food.
Their nutritional value is out of this world, and their taste is irresistible. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, potassium, and beta carotene. They are also a good source of vitamin E, calcium, and folate, and due to their high fibre content, they help the digestive tract and promote bowel health.
There are many ways to cook sweet potatoes, including steaming or boiling. However, my preferred method is also the easiest. Baking sweet potatoes brings out their natural sweetness and fantastic flavour while retaining most of its nutrients.
All you have to do is thoroughly wash the potato, cut off the ends, and stab the potato several times with a knife. Then, wrap the sweet potato in aluminium foil, and pop into a 350-degree oven for 60 minutes, though more time may be required if the potato is large.
4. Green Beans
Green beans are similar to other beans; the only difference is that both the seed and the pod can be eaten because they are picked during the green, immature stage.
Green beans are packed with nutrients that are vital for your developing baby including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, calcium, fibre, manganese, and the list goes on.
Fresh green beans are the best option for baby led weaning. To prepare them, simply wash in cold fresh water and remove the stem end. The beans can be boiled or steamed for around four to five minutes or until they are tender.
One of the apple’s most important nutritional attributes is the fact that it contains two types of fibre: insoluble fibre and soluble fibre. This helps to maintain bowel regularity. Research also shows that apples promote cardiovascular health by lowering LDL cholesterol.
We were always a bit iffy about letting our babies feed themselves raw apple slices, to be honest. Apples don’t dissolve, so babies can easily choke on them. However, baked apple slices with cinnamon are absolutely delicious (for baby and us, too), and a peeled and whole raw apple is too large for young children to actually rip a chunk out of.
6. Cooked rice
Brown rice is one of the foods that is least likely to cause an allergic reaction for your baby.
It is highly nutritious and inexpensive. One cup of cooked brown rice contains five grams of protein, folate, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and many other minerals.
Brown rice can be boiled for several minutes until soft and tender. Babies will love getting to eat and play with a plateful of rice.
Beets are nutritious, but boy are they messy! It’s probably best to strip baby down to his diaper if you’re going to let him feed himself beets.
They are highly nutritious and contain a large amount of calcium, potassium, and vitamin A.
The bright colour is sure to engage your little one’s eyes and pinching fingers. Roasted beets are great finger foods. Simply slice the beets thinly, brush lightly with olive oil, and bake for approximately 10-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
This relative of the cucumber is great because it requires so little preparation. The entire vegetable—skin, seeds, and all—is completely edible and packed with nutrients including vitamin C, protein, folate, and manganese.
Roasting zucchini is a great option because it brings out the vegetable’s natural sweetness. Simply cut off the ends of the zucchini, slice into strips, drizzle with olive oil, and pop into a 375- degree oven for about ten minutes. Flip, and put into the oven for another ten minutes.
Baby led weaning is a fun way to introduce solids to your little ones. This allows your infant the ability to eat as much or as little as they want and provide them with a sense of autonomy, enhancing self-esteem.
It is our hope that these 8 foods to kick start your baby led weaning process will help you on your journey.
How is your baby led weaning going? Leave us a comment below!