We’re getting into a groove of baby led weaning with Hannah. We also did baby led weaning with Camryn and really enjoyed that child feeding method.
Since people have shown interest in our experience with introducing solids, I figured I’d share our story of how to start blw (baby led weaning).
Note that while I am a Registered Dietitian, I am not giving specific feeding advice and always advise consulting with your pediatrician for your child’s specific needs.
Some people may be intimidated by the idea of how to do baby led weaning at 6 months because it’s scary to watch your child possibly choke. Also, it’s messy. Very messy.
I do recommend having some equipment to help with the mess. You can see a list of some of my favorites here!
Many people have asked about our baby led weaning 6 month schedule and right now, it varies. I try to offer Hannah solids at least once a day. Sometimes it works out to be twice if I can sit down with her at breakfast.
But, typically it’s dinner time since we’re all sitting down together.
It’s really important to me that she experiences sitting down with all of us – and that’s a core component of baby led weaning.
Baby watches what you are eating, and try to model it. Baby eats what you eat.
One book which has been an amazing resource for baby led weaning is Born to Eat.
It’s written by two dietitians who did baby led feeding with their children, but it also talks about the benefits outside of just introducing solids, such as their relationship with food later in life and reducing picky eating.
How to Start Baby Led Weaning
We typically do three things before starting baby led weaning!
- Check with your pediatrician
- Ensure signs of readiness are met (see earlier)
- Take an infant CPR class
In my experience, the best way to start BLW is to just start! Have your little one sit at the table with you, even before they are showing signs of readiness.
This can start to introduce them to family meals and watch us eat and chew. Babies are really smart and are observing everything!
Once your babe has shown signs of readiness and you’ve checked with your pediatrician, choose a first food to offer baby.
We’ve done sweet potatoes, avocado or oatmeal as first foods but honestly, there’s no right or wrong answer. We love this sweet potato spinach baby food recipe.
Must Have Equipment for Baby Led Weaning
Everyone may have their own forms of these things that work for them, but this is what we love!
- Born to Eat book
- Sturdy high chair – Since your baby needs to be sitting independently, you want something sturdy for them to be sitting in. It is not safe to feed them on your lap. You want to be looking at them always. I’ve used a Graco with both of mine.
- Long sleeved waterproof bibs with a pocket (you’ll be surprised at how much food goes in that pocket!) or any bib with a pocket (I find silicone bibs easiest to clean)
- Splat Mat – essentially to make clean up easier below the high chair (or a good dog 🙂 )
- Mesh Feeders – These can be great for those who want a modified BLW or just some easier to swallow options before doing full on solids
- Silicone plates and bowls – this works great for feeding oatmeal
- Tiny cup – This is great for starting to introduce water
- 360 Cup – One baby can hold and tip the cup, this is wonderful and will last until toddler years.
Can You Start Baby Led Weaning Before 6 Months?
It’s not really recommended to start baby led weaning before 6 months. I know you can be excited to introduce solids, but you want to make sure your little one is ready.
Signs of readiness include:
- sitting up independently, with little or no support
- hold head up
- show interest in food, usually by reaching or grabbing
- baby has lost tongue thrust reflex and doesn’t push solid food out
I would definitely check with your pediatrician (babies usually have a 6 month old checkup anyway) about signs of readiness.
You can also review this research review about developmental readiness in infants and progressing from breastfeeding to the introduction of complementary foods.
How to Introduce Allergens to Baby
I know that introducing allergen foods to baby is scary, for the fear that they will have an allergic reaction and you’ll have to rush to the pediatrician.
That is why you should always consult with your pediatrician first before starting. Especially if you have a family history of allergies or eczema.
There still remains confusion about the early introduction of peanuts and other allergen foods, for fear of causing adverse food reactions.
However, the latest research actually encourages the early introduction of allergen foods (even the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines recommend this).
For instance, for introducing baby to peanut butter, we will probably mix some no sugar added peanut butter powder with breastmilk.
I talk about when to introduce eggs to baby in this post as well.
Baby led weaning eggs recipes don’t have to be complicated.
Here’s how to cook eggs for baby led weaning:
- Coat the eggs with chia or flax seeds to make them easier to pick up.
- Cut a scrambled egg into strips to serve to baby.
- Offer a hard boiled egg, which is often easier to grip
When making scrambled eggs, I’ll usually mix a little breastmilk in there too. I don’t want it to be too dry for her to pick up.
Can allergies be prevented?
Hard to say! But the latest research does show that introducing allergen foods earlier may decrease the risk of food allergies.
This article does a great job of breaking down the evidence.
If you have specific questions about dairy and egg free baby led weaning, I would consult with your pediatrician, especially knowing that the risk of allergies is decreased offering these allergen foods early.
However, every family is different and family history of allergies is important to consider!
6 Month Old Baby Led Weaning Foods
Here are some of the foods we’ve introduced so far:
- oatmeal (good iron source)
- baby led weaning meatballs
- sweet potato (several recipes for sweet potatoes for babies and kids!)
- baked parsnips
- thinly sliced steak (great iron source)
- beans (great iron source)
- salmon (salmon patties can be great too)
When possible, I’ll offer two foods, generally an iron source and Vitamin C source food. The reason for this is because Vitamin C helps enhance iron absorption.
I also prefer to offer vegetables first since fruits are sweeter. I don’t think there is definitive research on that, or how introducing certain foods before others may develop certain taste preferences.
But, the way I see it, it’s very likely that kids will like fruit because they are sweet.
So, I want to encourage them to like vegetables as well, so I try to introduce those more often right now.
What size food to serve for baby led weaning likely depends on the age and development of your child.
As they progress, you can likely serve less things in finger shapes and more in small shapes, like beans and small diced shapes since they can pick up easier.
Those seem to be easier baby led weaning foods for 8 months. You can also start serving mixed meals then, like casseroles.
How to Cut Food for Baby Led Weaning
In the beginning, as baby is developing hand-eye coordination and grabbing food, it’s probably easiest to cut food into long strips or finger shapes. It’s usually easier to pick up this way!
Some food that can’t be cut (ie – oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes, berries), you can preload onto a baby spoon for them to self feed.
As baby advances, you can start offering smaller sized foods that they can pick up.
Baby Led Weaning Breakfast Ideas
Here are some of my favorite baby led weaning breakfast ideas for 6 months.
- eggs cut into strips with sliced raspberries or avocado slices
- baby french toast sticks (easy to grasp and fun)
- baby pancake (can mash eggs and banana and cook) or make your own
- mashed sweet potato or sweet potato fries and beans
- asparagus quiche
- oatmeal with breast milk and a sliced fruit
- lots of baby muffin recipes (perhaps as they get a little older)
- tropical chia pudding
- apple pumpkin baked oatmeal
What Foods Should You Avoid Giving to Babies?
Here’s some foods you’ll want to avoid in baby led weaning.
- You want to avoid anything hard or anything the same shape as their windpipe, which could lead to blockage or choking. Again, taking an infant cpr class is vital so you do understand the difference between choking and gagging and know what to do if your baby is choking.
- Also, avoid anything overly crunchy or sticky.
- Honey is also not recommended for children under age 1 due to the risk of botulism.
- Avoid added sugar and high amounts of salt, as babies kidneys’ are not equipped to handle high amounts of salt yet.
- Cows milk until age 1 – Baby just needs breastmilk or formula
For the most part, though, baby CAN eat what you eat.
Did you do baby led weaning? What was your babies’ favorite foods?
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