What’s the deal with baby-led weaning?

by Heather Flett on October 30, 2012

in Eating,How to,Month 9

babies with a pumpkin

If you’ve heard about baby-led weaning or baby-led solids, the premise is that by six months old, babies are ready to chew their own food and skip purees altogether. Toothless babies can handle more than mush. Anything that can be gummed into oblivion or melted by saliva is a contender.

I’ve compiled my been-there-tried-that lessons learned along with more inspiration for baby meals. The book, Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods – and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater, offers a detailed guide into this method of feeding if you want even more info.

6 lessons learned from research & testing on my new eater:

  1. Offer big pieces. For the youngest eaters, start with larger wedges of food that a baby can easily grip with his fist. Once your baby can easily pinch food with fingers, move onto smaller pieces (around 9 months).
  2. Offer small quantities. More food means more to clean up. I like to offer no more than I can count so I’m not wondering,”Oh where did that fifth raspberry end up?!” then squish it.
  3. Crispy = good. By 10 months old rocking 4 teeth, Sawyer was happy with toast, breadsticks, O cereal, and Mum Mums. Yeah, it’s a carb-heavy diet sometimes but it seems to feel good on his gums.
  4. Share what you’re having. I give him pieces of steamed or roasted veggies like sweet potato, broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, and butternut squash. He’ll noodle over pasta too. And then throw it on the floor.
  5. Little things for bigger babies. I make small piles of little things like rice, lentils, and shredded cheese. See photo above of Sawyer chucking his shredded cheese onto the floor. Did I mention small piles?
  6. Coat slippery foods. To make avocado and banana easier to grasp, coat them with crushed up O’s or baby cereal.

More mealtime ideas?

My friend Alissa’s daughter, Emily (pictured above with Sawyer and the pumpkin) is a very adventurous eater. She also has a lot of teeth. I interviewed Baby Emily a couple months ago and this is what I learned.

A 10 month-old’s favorite foods:

  • Cooked broccoli florets and baby carrots, not falling apart, but pretty soft so I don’t choke
  • Yogurt + applesauce + cinnamon (I think this is from you, right??)
  • Eggs/omelet with veggies like tomatoes, mushrooms sautéed with olive oil then cooked with the eggs and sliced up with fresh spices so I don’t become a bland eater, either basil or CILANTRO!
  • Pupusas or cut up tamales of any kind from Whole Foods
  • Diced up fruit that I can pick up like mango, nectarine, cantaloupe, strawberry
  • Beans that I can pick up, either black or pinto
  • Tortillas spread with spicy black bean dip from Trader Joes; I also like goat cheese on top of that. Pieces cut up small.
  • Leftover salmon or chicken pieces; I ate leftover chicken tikka masala the other day and couldn’t get enough
  • Tortellini with tomato sauce, pieces cut up a bit
  • All of the normal baby bread-y stuff like cheerios, puffs, breadsticks. Sawyer likes to steal my Happy Munchies rice cakes.

Brittany from A Healthy Slice feeds her baby fresh and beautiful combos.

She also collects photos and meal ideas from other parents of babies and toddlers in her regular round-up called Munchkin Meals. She describes it like this:

Munchkin Meals is a series that focuses on what moms are feeding their kids. I got the idea when I started sharing what Hailey was eating when I started her with baby led weaning at 6 months old. Other moms became interested and the idea grew. Now, Munchkin Meals takes place every other Thursday and is a place moms can share and get new ideas for healthy foods for their children. For questions, please email me at Brittany@ahealthysliceoflife.com

Important caution: get to know the difference between gagging (a normal response) and choking (requires intervention and possible CPR).

[related: Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods - and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater and Munchkin meals round-up from A Healthy Slice of Life]

[Photos are from Heather Flett except the hot dad from BabyBjorn and the gorgeous food from Brittany Dixon]

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RookieMoms co-founder & mom to 3 boys in Berkeley, CA. Bossy big sister and project manager turned blogger helping moms enjoy their first years of motherhood. Find me on my other site on 510families.com or hiding in my minivan eating dark chocolate.

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