As moms, we have to ensure that we know exactly how to prepare baby led weaning starter foods so your baby gets to enjoy it. Weaning is a tricky process. But with the right know-how, you will sure wing it.
Surprise! Your baby starts grabbing your food during mealtime. While you thought your baby is just curious, well, apparently, it is a sign that your little one is ready for starter foods for baby led weaning!
Congratulations! Your baby has ticked off another milestone!
Okay, we know how emotional it can be for some parents especially moms. Because once your baby starts eating the same kind of food you eat as an adult, it feels like your baby is no longer a baby!
It’s okay to feel that way. If only they can stay babies forever, right?
But that would be unfair. Because remember, we too are babies once.
So, stop feeling emotional, rather be joyful and start preparing for this beautiful milestone! Time to prep up and ready yourself especially in selecting the right baby led weaning starter foods.
Yes! You read it right! You do not just put anything on your baby’s mouth. There is, in fact, age-appropriate food! And that is exactly what we are sharing with you later on.
But first, allow us to educate you on what baby-led weaning is all about.
WHAT IS BABY-LED WEANING?
As parents, especially as moms, it is essential that we understand what baby-led weaning is all about.
Baby-led weaning is a method of food development — particularly adding solid food or “real” human food to your baby’s diet, which is basically composed of either breastmilk or formula milk or both for the past few months of his or her life.
Baby-led weaning or BLW follows the progress of age-appropriate oral motor control, at the same time, keeping eating as a progressive and interactive experience for your baby.
According to experts, baby-led weaning of several benefits including “an early foundation for good eating habits,” as well as “sharpening of developmental dexterities.”
Generally speaking, babies begin their baby-led weaning at around 6 months old. But babies are unique from each other That is why some babies start earlier at around 5 months, while some start a little later around 7 or 8 months. Regardless when they start eating solids, it doesn’t matter.
Never force your baby to start eating solids if he or she doesn’t show any signs yet that he or she is already ready for this next phase in their baby life. Remember, every baby is unique. Thus, we never compare our baby’s progress to other babies. In the same way that you should not judge other babies if they are early or delayed in weaning.
Know the basics of baby-lead weaning by checking the below video by Rachel Weiland. Weiland basically shares about important things that we should be known before we get our babies to try their very first solid food.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT YOUR BABY IS READY FOR BABY-LED WEANING
To help you figure out if your baby is ready for baby led weaning starter foods, you should take notice of any of these signs:
- Your baby is able to sit up well WITHOUT any support.
- Your baby shows signs of readiness and willingness to chew.
- Your baby has already lost the tongue-thrust reflex and no longer push solids out of his mouth using his tongue.
- Your baby starts to develop a “pincer” grasp or the ability to pick up food or other objects using his or her thumb and forefinger. Please note that “palmar” grasp or using his or her fingers and scraping food into his or her palm is different from a pincer grasp. In this case, palmar is not considered as a substitute for pincer.
- Your baby shows signs of eagerness to join in the family’s mealtime and in some cases, grabs your food and puts it in his or her mouth.
HOW TO ESTABLISH GOOD EATING HABITS?
In relation to weaning, it is good to understand that not all kinds of foods are good in one’s health – whether it be a child or adult. Thus establishing good eating habits as early as possible is key. It will help your child get used to certain types of food that are healthy instead of the unhealthy ones.
According to the University of California San Francisco – Benioff Children’s Hospital, establishing good eating habits is the responsibility of both parents and children.
For parents, your responsibility includes:
- Providing a variety of foods from which your child can choose.
- Developing a schedule of meal and snack times for your child
- Providing an appropriate mealtime environment
Meanwhile, for children, their responsibilities include:
- Deciding what to eat of the foods offered
- Deciding how much to eat of the foods offered
The weaning stage of a child is actually one if not the best time to introduce good eating habits to your children. As the saying goes, start them young.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT BABY LED WEANING STARTER FOODS AND HOW TO PREPARE THEM?
First and foremost, always remember that your baby’s tummy is very delicate. Thus, food preparation is vital in baby-led weaning especially on food that does not need cooking.
Wash them properly leaving no dirt behind. We highly advise you use a different set of cooking utensils and pans for your baby’s food to avoid contamination. Also, when it comes to food storage, use glass containers instead of plastic ones. Be mindful of your surroundings when preparing your baby’s food. Make sure that there are no toxic materials or liquids, or anything that might get into the food.
When using a high chair, make sure you always clean and disinfect before your baby uses it especially since your baby might put his or her food out of his or her bowl and grasp it and eat it. Remember, baby-led weaning is a mess – and part of that mess is when your child puts his or her food on his or her table and then putting it back on his or her mouth.
With all that said, let’s proceed to the types baby led weaning starter foods you can give your baby and how to prepare them to have a happy, healthy baby-led weaning.
Fruits and Vegetables
– Apples – Make an apple puree out of it. You may also prepare it by grating, steaming, baking, or lighting frying it in a pan.
– Avocado – We highly suggest this to be your baby’s first solid food intake. It is rich in nutrients, in fact, tagged as a “brain” food. You can prepare your avocados wedged or mashed.
– Banana – You may opt to cut it into tiny pieces, good for grasping. Otherwise, you may also mash it on toast or rice cakes, or you may also make a banana pancake out of it.
– Berries – Wash them thoroughly and cut them into thin slices. You can also mash it and give it as it is or prepare a Popsicle out of it especially when your child is teething.
– Citrus fruits like orange and lemon – Prepare it on wedges with skin on.
– Grapes – Cut into thin quarters – we highly advise cutting vertically to avoid choking.
– Kiwi – Since kiwis are soft, you may cut them into slices or mash them.
– Melon – Prepare it in thin, vertically-shaped slices.
– Pears – Prepare it in thin, vertically-shaped slices.
– Pineapple – Prepare it in thin, vertically-shaped slices.
– Stone fruits like mango, peach, plum, and nectarine. Cut into wedges or mashed.
– Tomatoes – Prepare it in thin, vertically-shaped slices. Make sure not to include the seeds.
– Asparagus – Prepare it in thin, vertically-shaped slices. Cook, it either roasted or steamed.
– Broccoli – Cook it either steamed or fritters.
– Carrots – Prepare it in thin or finger-zed, vertically-shaped slices. Cooked either roasted or steamed.
– Cauliflower – Cook it either steamed or fritters.
– Courgette – Cook it either steamed or fritters.
– Cucumber – Prepare it in thin or finger-zed, vertically-shaped slices. Cook it either roasted or steamed or better yet, give it fresh.
– Parsnip – Prepare it in thin or finger-zed, vertically-shaped slices. Cooked either roasted or steamed.
– Squash – Another option as your baby’s first solid food. You may opt to steam or roast it, mash or cut in thin, vertically-shaped slices.
– Turnip – Mash it and then cook it either roasted or steamed.
– Beans and peas – Boil it until soft, if needed, mash it.
– Beef – Cut it in thin strips, and then boil until soft.
– Chicken – Cut it in thin strips. You may opt roasting or boiling it until soft.
– Egg – We highly recommend preparing hard-boiled. Either mashed or cut in tiny strips.
– Fish particularly salmon, tuna or cod – Cut it in thin strips or mash it. You may opt roasting or boiling it until soft.
– Bread – Cut in finger-sized. Give it as it is or you may opt to toast it.
– Oats – Prepare a porridge out of it.
– Pasta – Cook until soft. Serve it plain or with pureed vegetables.
– Potatoes – The most commonly served of all starchy foods. Ideally boiled until soft and mashed.
– Rice – Boil until soft.
– Sweet potatoes – Another favorite. Ideally boiled until soft and mashed.
– Greek Yogurt – Initially, 2 to 3 spoons are good enough.
– Cheese – Preferably served grated.
– Soft cheese – Can be served spread on toast.
You can add more fruits and vegetables on this list – because honestly, there are so many different kinds of healthy food that you can introduce to your baby.
An important reminder though, make sure you ask your doctor first before giving anything to your baby especially if your baby has allergies or is suspected to have one. In this case, you avoid giving highly- allergenic food to your baby.
To give you an idea, some highly-allergenic foods are:
– Tree nuts like almonds and walnuts
– Certain kinds of fish
Like we mentioned earlier, be very cautious in introducing food to your baby. In some cases, you may opt to give the same food for 3 to 4 days to see if your baby will have an allergic reaction. This is applicable to those with healthy babies – meaning no suspected allergies or any other health conditions.
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL BABY-LED WEANING
Parents, we do not wean our babies just because we feel like it’s time for them to wean. There is a process, and we have to follow the process, otherwise, our baby-led weaning will fail.
With that said, here are a few tips for you to have a successful baby lead weaning:
– Make sure your baby is ready.
Your baby will eventually show signs that he or she is ready to wean. Thus, you have to be very mindful of these signs. Some cues that your baby is ready for weaning are being able to sit in a high chair without any support, shows a really good neck strength, and the ability to move food in his or her mouth. As we said earlier, never force your baby to wean just because he or she is six months already. Remember, babies are different from one another. Do not get pressured is he or she is not ready yet. All the more never pressure your baby, otherwise, you will be unsuccessful with weaning.
– Your baby must continue breastfeeding and/or formula milk-feeding.
Not because your baby will now start eating baby led weaning starter foods, you will no longer breastfeed him or her or feed your baby his or her formula milk. Parents, your baby’s milk feeding is still his or her biggest source of nutrition until he or she turns 10 to 12 months old.
– Feed your baby with soft baby led weaning starter foods.
You can start with pureed ripe fruits, steamed or boiled vegetables, cereals, and then, slowly transition to cooked egg yolks, flaky fish, shredded meats, and cooked pasta. Later on, we will share a list of healthy baby led weaning starter foods for your baby to try on.
– Cut your baby’s food for easy grasping.
To make eating easier for your baby, cut his or her food in long, thin strips or coin-shaped, or using a crinkle cutter. Always be mindful of the cut as your baby might get choked if his or her food is not cut the right way.
– Be mindful of your baby’s nutrient intake.
Make sure you give your baby food that has high calorie and are rich in iron, protein, zinc, and healthy fats. You can always check food charts to know which food has these specific nutrients for your reference.
– Expect messes all around.
Remember that the goal of baby-led weaning is to let your baby explore food at his or her own pace. Thus, expect that there will be a dropping of food, smearing, and smashing. Do not expect your baby to eat neatly like an adult because he or she is not yet an adult. While putting bib and placemats will be helpful, still, there is no assurance that your child will only mess up his r her own table. Most likely, some of the food will be dropped on the floor. So, better be read, mommy and daddy! It’s going to be fun!
– Eat together.
There is a huge difference in a child’s eating behavior when you let him or her dine with you. Thus, make sure that your baby eats the same time that you do. It would also be nice if you offer him or her food form the ingredients of your dish. That way he or she will not feel jealous or feel bad that he or she is eating different food.
DON’TS FOR BABY-LED WEANING
Now that you already know what baby-led weaning is all about, the kinds of baby led weaning starter foods, and you already know some tips for successfully baby-led weaning, we find it necessary to share with you also the don’ts for baby-led weaning.
Baby-lead is an important milestone in your baby’s life. As much as possible, we have to make it right and avoid mistakes. After all, we want a good initial food experience for your baby. Otherwise, we might create a traumatic weaning experience for your baby.
So, here are a few don’ts for baby-led weaning to avoid.
– Choosing the wrong meal time. Observe your baby know when is the right time to offer him or her food. Make sure that your baby is not tired or upset or full. Otherwise, he or she will not eat the food you prepared.
– Introducing new food every day. Remember we mentioned earlier that there is a 3 to 4 days rule before you move on to the next type of food to check if your baby will have an allergic reaction to the food. Do not get overwhelmed with everything. Eventually, when your baby is older, you will get there.
– Rushing your baby from eating. Do not rush your baby when he or she is eating. Ideally, you should allow a good 10 to 15 minutes for your baby’s meal.
– Ignoring your baby’s signal. Your baby will most likely show some signals when he or she is already done or full. Be mindful of these signals. For example, when your baby starts to toss the food everywhere or wouldn’t open her mouth anymore, then take that as a cue that he or she no longer wants to eat.
– Getting too excited and forgetting your baby’s safety. Again, your baby is still a baby. He or she is still gentle and doesn’t know what is hazardous and not. Make sure you cut his or her food properly to avoid choking. That’s the last thing you want to happen when baby-led weaning.
– Expecting every day to be the same. Your baby’s mood changes, in the same way, that his or her approach to food changes too. There will be good days, but there will be bad days too. There will be times when he or she likes the baby led weaning starter foods you prepare, but there will be days when he or she will not like his food.
– Giving up on your baby. Again, every baby is unique. Never compare your baby to other babies. Do not get frustrated so easily. Take one day at a time. Never pressure yourself, most especially, your baby. He or she will get there eventually.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BABY LED WEANING STARTER FOODS
To sum it all up, baby-led weaning is an exciting part of your baby’s life. It has to be an exciting time for you too! You see, you’ve gone a long way already. Before you only fee your baby with milk, now you’re off to preparing baby led weaning starter foods.
While it is indeed an exciting time for you and your baby, always be mindful of safety. The last thing we want to happen is for your kid to have a traumatic solid food intake experience.
So, is your baby starting to show signs of readiness for weaning? If so, are you ready for it? We hope that our list of baby led weaning starter foods will help you as you embark into this another amazing milestone in your baby’s life.