When it comes to baby led weaning foods, there are a lot of options out there let us help you navigate better by helping you figure out safe foods for baby led weaning, baby led weaning food size and how to cut food for baby led weaning as well as foods to avoid in BLW and more!
Baby Led Weaning Foods
When starting BLW one of the most nerve wracking things for most parents is figuring out safe foods for baby led weaning. The thing they fear the most is BLW choking, but what if I put your mind at ease and actually told you BLW is actually pretty safe to do with your baby. With the right baby led weaning essentials, and following some basic BLW tips you and your baby will successfully navigate learning to eat using baby led weaning.
So, if you are committed to BLW, you should know about the best baby led weaning foods, as well as ways to prepare food for your baby. Preparation of food for your baby can easily be safe, simple, and jar free!
Follow these tips and tricks to help you get started with your BLW food preparation!
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Baby led weaning first week
The first week of baby led weaning is such an exciting time! Your baby is going to experience a wonderful sensory experience and get to start their journey with solid foods. Be sure you have the camera handy because you are going to want to take lots of pictures!
During the first week of BLW, you will likely want to test out lots of foods, but you should really stick to 1 or 2 to help pinpoint any allergies. Introduce 1 food to them for a couple of days. Once you know that your baby does not have an adverse reaction then introduce another one. (You can still give them the first one during this time) Slowly every few days introduce a new food for your baby to try! Tracking it in a baby led weaning planner is a great way to keep track of everything.
Your baby may not even be interested in eating the food you give them the first week or so. They may just want to play and that’s okay! Let them explore and go at their own pace.
Baby led weaning starter foods
There are some really great baby led weaning starter foods out there! You can really start with any food that you want, but some good first foods for bab led weaning include:
- Sweet potato
- Butternut squash
- Slices of peaches
- Mashed Potatoes (be sure to grab a BLW spoon!)
Your baby can safely eat many foods, but you may want to try a bland food to help ease them into solid foods. You can add more flavor in as they try more foods and their taste buds develop.
Baby led weaning food size
Essentially, you have two main things to think about when it comes to baby led weaning food size.
The first is their age and development stage and the second is possible choking or safety risks in that age range.
6-8 months – wedges & sticks
Right when your baby starts BLW, they are still going to be working on their grabbing skills.
So, your baby led weaning foods at this stage should be cut into larger sticks or wedges. That way your baby’s growing hands can easily navigate their food. As long as the food is soft and can be chewed with their gums, these sticks are safe and easy to eat for your baby.
We love using a crinkle cutter to help our babies grib the food better.
8+ months – weaning finger foods
Sometime around 8 months, your baby should start developing their pincer grasp. This is the cute pinch between thumb and forefinger that will allow the baby to handle smaller pieces of food.
When your baby can use those smaller finger movements, you can give them food that is smaller (think cheerio size). Just make sure the food is still soft enough once it’s in your baby’s mouth.
How to cut food for baby led weaning
How you cut food for BLW depends on what type of food you are preparing.
For fruits and vegetables that are too hard for your baby to mush up with their gums, you are going to want to cut them into the right size based on their age and then cook them!
You want to be sure to cut them before cooking because once they are soft it may be a little more difficult to cut them into an easy shape to handle.
For instance if you are making sweet potatoes, grab the crinkle cutter and precut the foods and then cook it.
Cooking fruits and vegetables will soften them perfectly! Most vegetables you can easily roast in the oven. For hard fruits like apples, pears, etc. you can try steaming or boiling them or cooking them quickly in an instant pot.
Another thing to remember with fruits and vegetables is to remove any skins that can be difficult to process. Skins may be easy to bite through with your teeth, but gums may not be up to the challenge quite yet making them a choking concern. For most skins, you are going to want to remove them altogether.
If you want your baby to experience a raw apple you can always put it in a mesh feeder to protect them from any choking concerns.
For other foods, you will just have to use your best judgment! Use your lips to test out foods and if it’s too hard or tricky, try preparing it a different way.
Baby led Weaning Foods to Avoid and Food Safety
BLW allows for a greater variety of safe foods for your little one, but there are still a few things you want to be aware of.
Baby led weaning meat
If you are going to introduce your baby to baby led weaning meat, you need to make sure you fully cook the meat and cut or ground in a way that prevents choking hazards. Most meats take teeth to breakdown, so ground meat is a great option. Again, placing meat in that mesh feeder allows them to taste the flavors and helps to prevent choking.
Chicken and turkey may be able to be served without grinding, but cut on the grain and keep in manageable pieces for your baby to grab and chew.
Most bread products are safe for babies, but be aware that they all break down differently. White bread may give your baby trouble when trying to break them down.
Try adding a spread onto the bread to help with the breakdown process for your baby.
Honey, citrus, cow’s milk, and other risks
When it comes to baby led weaning foods to avoid, honey, citrus and cows milk are usually at the top of the list. You should always talk to your doctor about foods that are unsafe for various reasons.
Honey, citrus, and cow’s milk are good examples of things you may be tempted to serve but might be best kept until after your baby turns one.
Skins, pits, & bones
Some other BLW foods to avoid include foods with skins, pits, bones, and other chokable pieces. These are probably not be the best option for baby led weaning.
Of course, you can remove skins and pits and chop the food up, but be aware of the risks of choking if you decided to serve these items with the skin or pit intact.
Common food items with these hazards are grapes, blueberries, tomatoes, plums, peaches, apples, cucumber, dried fruits, and more.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to baby led weaning foods to avoid is, If the food can break it or snap it, keep it off the baby’s plate.
Some nutritious foods like carrots, apples can be tempting, but unless they are cooked or prepared in a way that softens them up, it’s best to skip them and avoid choking risk.
Other Foods to Avoid in Baby Led Weaning
Here are some other foods to avoid in baby led weaning:
- Cow’s milk
- Added Sugar or Salt
- Hot Dogs
- Foods that break off easily
- Raw Pea Pods
- Raw Carrots
Choking vs. Gagging
You may notice your baby starts to gag on a new food or texture. This is normal. BLW gagging is actually fairly normal. This article teaches you more about baby led gagging as well as baby led choking and different signs of choking to look for.
The most important thing you can do to ensure the safety of your baby while trying BLW is to be there watching them.
Just because your baby is eating on their own doesn’t mean they don’t need you. Pay attention and look for signs of choking and other risks. With you right by them, you can assist with anything that they need.
There you have it! Everything you need to know to be prepared when it comes to baby led weaning foods! Share some of your favorite baby led weaning foods in the comments!
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There are more great articles in our baby led weaning series! Check out these BLW posts:
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Don’t forget to save the best baby led weaning foods on Pinterest so you can find them easily!
Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!