Once a baby turns six months, many mommies feel that they can now introduce foods other than milk. There are two approaches you can use to wean your babies, traditional and baby-led weaning. We’re going to focus on the latter and also cite some of the best foods for baby-led weaning.
So the first question you might as is, what is baby-led weaning? It was Gill Rapley who made the term popular in the early 2000s. While it began in the UK, it soon spread all over the world as more mommies found it to be an effective way of introducing solids to their babies.
Unlike traditional weaning where babies are spoon-fed purees of foods, baby-led weaning has babies using their fingers and feeding themselves.
When should you start baby-led weaning? There is no one right answer when it comes to this question. Although mothers usually start introducing solid foods by six months, some wait until they are seven or even eight months.
If you are going to go to baby-led weaning, there are some milestones that your baby needs to achieve before you should give them solid food, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The first is that they need to be able to sit up by themselves. Having neck support is also very important so make sure that they can already hold their head.
Another milestone to watch out for is that they actually look interested in food. Observe them while you are eating and see if they like watching you or even getting food from your plate. Also, if the tongue-thrust reflex is no longer present, then they are ready.
Baby-led weaning has many benefits, including healthy eating habits and improving their dexterity. Of course, there are also some downsides to it. It can be really messy, and there may. be concerns for safety especially choking.
Now that you know some things about baby-led weaning, it’s time to introduce some of the best baby-led weaning foods. We’ve divided them into four categories so you can have a lot of variety for your baby’s diet.
Best Foods for Baby Led Weaning
- Sweet potatoes
- Rice Balls
- Hard-boiled eggs
There are many ways you can give to your baby. But first, you need to make sure that the carrots are cut up into sticks so that your baby can pick them up easily. Two inch-strips should be okay for your baby.
You can steam the carrots for around ten minutes so that they will be very soft. If you are roasting them, make sure to add a little olive oil to the pan so that they will not be dry after cooking. 30 minutes in a 400-degree oven should be enough to tenderize them.
Broccolis are not just good for adults but for babies too. Although some would say that you might want to introduce them to your babies when they are around 8 or 10 months old. Also, if your baby has had some digestive issues, it is best to hold off on giving them broccoli as this vegetable causes gas.
But if you feel that your baby is ready, broccoli is a great source of vitamin C. A cup of this will also yield other minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Cut your broccoli into smaller florets and then sautee in olive oil or steam until they are completely cooked and tender. We would not advise cooking them using the microwave as this can cause the loss of lots of nutrients.
Sweet potatoes are not just tasty but provide many benefits for your babies. It is very rich in nutrients like beta-carotene and vitamin A, which is good for the eyes. If your baby has had trouble with constipation will help because of the high fiber content it has.
Because it also contains high levels of vitamin C, adding sweet potatoes to their diet can also help boost your baby’s immune system. You can serve them in a variety of ways. Form grilled, steamed, mashed, or baked, the important thing you just need to remember is that it should be cooked well.
If you are wondering if it is possible to introduce your baby to greens even when they are young, you’d be glad to know that with baby-led weaning, it is very much possible. After you buy your kale online, you can turn them into kale chips for your baby to enjoy.
Wash your kale and then dry them with towels or your salad spinner. If it is not properly dry, it will not have a good texture. Preheat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius.
Take the leaves from the stem as they might be too chewy for your baby. You can just save them for another meal. Meanwhile, the leaves should be coated with some olive oil and sprinkled with your seasoning of choice. You can go simple and just use a dash of salt or you can be creative and add other herbs and spices. You only need to nake them until they become crispy, which can take just 25 minutes.
Most mommies give bananas to babies as their first solid food. It’s great because ripe bananas do not need to be cooked because they are already soft enough.
You can also leave some of the peel behind so that your baby can grasp it instead of the fruit itself. This is a great transition food especially if you are going to follow baby-led weaning.
This is another fruit that does not need to be cooked, as long as you choose the ones that are already ripe. If your baby is not able to grasp things well yet, make sure to leave some of the peel on so that it will not slip from their hands.
Avocados are one of the most nutritious fruits you can give your baby. Some of the vitamins and minerals they contain include vitamins E, C, and K. They also have a lot of fiber and contain good fats which babies need. As they get older, you can begin to explore other ways of eating avocados.
Watermelon is a refreshing fruit that offers a lot of benefits for babies. It can help keep your baby hydrated as it is composed mostly of water. So make sure to have plenty of these during the summer months. It is also a great source of vitamin C and vitamin A, which can help strengthen your baby’s immune system and eyesight.
When giving watermelon to your babies, make sure to cut them up into smaller chunks and remove any seeds as they might choke on it. You might also want to leave some of the peel so that your baby will have something to grasp. As they grow older and can already finger grasp, you cut them up into cubes instead.
Another fruit that can be served raw is melon slices. Honeydew has lots of vitamin C which has many benefits for babies. They are also good for helping with constipation. But don’t give too much as sometimes babies can experience diarrhea when they eat too much.
Now because they are slippery and contain seeds, there is a risk of babies choking on them. So make sure to cut them into large enough pieces for your babies. Don’t use a melon ball scooper because that size can increase the risk of choking.
Babies also need carbs in their diet and pasta is perfect. You can serve the usual varieties like spaghetti and macaroni but you can also use fun shapes like wheels and bowtie pasta. If you are going to be serving them wheat pasta, make sure that they are not allergic to gluten first.
The important thing is that the pasta has to be cooked well. It cannot be al dente as that might be too firm for them still. The pasta needs to be easy to swallow.
Serve the pasta with some vegetables, so that it would not only be more colorful but also more nutritious. This Five Veggie Pasta is a great way to incorporate pasta and vegetable in one dish.
When serving toast, cut them into long pieces so that they can be grasped properly by your baby. Make sure to toast them just enough so that it is not too soft but not to dry either or else your baby might find it unappetizing.
If you want to add more flavor, you can add a little bit of butter or even olive oil to the toast. Some mommies also make use of nut butter.
Pancakes are also a great alternative for breakfast. Try to make them fresh so that you can add more nutritious ingredients like fruits and such. The prepackaged ones may contain too much sugar and that is not good for babies.
You can try these Two Ingredient Pancakes that make use only of ripe bananas and eggs. Your baby will surely love them, and you can make your own stack more special by adding some fresh berries to them.
Babies also need protein and while it may be hard for them to much on meat like beef or pork, chicken would be okay. It can be as simple as boiled chicken meat that has been cut into chunks. But you can also serve some chicken thighs that have been seared in a little olive oil.
If you are sure that your baby is not allergic to dairy, you can have them eat eggs. Aside from scrambling them, you can also serve hard-boiled eggs. The egg yolk in particular is a great source of iron. Serve them chopped up or cut in quarters. For added flavor, you can sprinkle a bit of pepper or some HImalayan salt.
You can cook the salmon any way you want, whether baked or roasted or the like. Just make sure that there are no more bones present. If cooking a whole fillet, flake the salmon into smaller pieces for easier grasping. You can also make salmon cakes which might be easier for babies to grasp, not to mention you can add more veggies for a nutritious meal.
With meatballs, you can use a variety of meat, from chicken to even lamb. Don’t be afraid to add herbs for more flavor s this is safer than just adding a lot of salt. When giving to your baby, you can crumble the meatballs or cut them into quarters.
Tips for Starting BLW
Make sure they reach the milestones
This is very important. Even if you feel that your child is already at that age where they can start eating solid foods, do not attempt to do so if they have not reached the milestones listed above. Trying to give them food when they cannot yet sit up on their own or hold their heads can be dangerous.
Understand what the gag reflex is
One of the things that parents are wary about when it comes to baby-led weaning is the possibility of the baby choking on their food. What you need to know is that there is a difference between choking and what is called the gagging reflex.
The latter is natural. It’s your baby’s way of removing food that they have a hard time eating. This should be a natural skill that you want them to develop.
Know what foods to avoid
If you want to lessen the risk of your baby choking on their food, then you should know what foods they need to avoid. There are some foods that sound to be avoided, like nuts and seeds, sticky foods like candy, popcorn, and grapes.
Honey should also not be given to babies as it can cause botulism poisoning.
Be Prepared for the Mess
In choosing baby-led weaning, you need to know that things can. get messy as your baby transitions to solid food. That is because you are not spoon-feeding the baby but instead allowing him or her to pick up the food and consume them. As they are only learning how to grasp things, expect that there would be food all over the place.