Sharing how we did baby led weaning and introduced solids to our baby. There are so many flavors and foods to explore!
Scroll for our eating routine, meal ideas, Baby Led Weaning resources and links to my favorite utensils, plates, cups and high chair.
I am sharing all about how we introduced foods to our bébé! It’s a big milestone for any parent, especially during that first year when babies are changing and growing so much. There are so many ways to feed your baby and so much advice out there, it’s hard to syphon through it all and figure out how you want to start. And when you want to start. And what to do and what to look out for… and yeah, there is just so much information! Anyways, I’m pretty sure everyone knows I am not a doctor or nutrition expert so please consult your pediatrician with any questions or concerns. I am just sharing all about our experience, what resources we found helpful and some meals ideas for bébé!
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Baby’s first time trying solids at six and half months.
Warren’s First Foods
This is Warren’s first time trying anything besides breastmilk on November 7th, 2020. He was about 6 1/2 months here. We gave him an organic free range boiled egg cut into quarters and part of banana rolled in flax seed. Sounds delicious, huh? Haha he mostly just played in it but he did get some tastes. Honestly, looking back, neither of these foods are very tasty and I’m thinking why didn’t I try something more delicious!?!
Obviously, I was super excited to get started trying out new foods with bébé! I mean, hello, I love food and was excited to share this with Warren. We did wait until 6 1/2 months to try anything besides breastmilk. This is mainly for two reasons, one being he wasn’t showing a big interest in food. Two I knew I wanted to try Baby Led Weaning and that meant that he needed to be sitting up really well on his own to chew and swallow.
Baby’s last night time bottle just after 1 year old.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
That leads to my next point which is what exactly is Baby Led Weaning? “Baby-led weaning is a method of introducing solid food to babies whereby purées and spoon-feeding are skipped entirely in favor of finger foods that a baby self-feeds.” This is from Solid Starts which is an amazing resource for anyone wanting to try Baby Led Weaning. The weaning part means weaning off of breastmilk or formula in favor of getting more calories from food.
During the first few months, babies get all their calories from breastmilk or formula. Then somewhere between 4-6 months, many parents begin to introduce other sources of nutrition. Some wait longer for varying reasons ranging from readiness to preferences to allergies and other medical concerns. Most babies who do Baby Led Weaning continue to have breastmilk or formula as their main source of nutrition until 1 year then that is reduced as needed and as baby grow into a toddler they get all their nutrition from food.
One of the main reasons we chose to do Baby Led Weaning is that it can help curb extreme picky eating which has become much more common in children and even adults. Nearly all children go through some phases of picky eating which is completely developmentally normal. However, it’s the extreme pickiness that can cause problems with nutrition as well social interactions around food, etc. Purées in and of themselves aren’t bad and many of us grew up eating them and didn’t turn out picky – hi it’s me! But then others, lots of others, didn’t have the same experience.
Another thing that spoke to me about Baby Led Weaning is that baby eats pretty much what you eat and that means less special meals! Aka no steaming and puréeing veggies or buying pasteurized pouches or jars or creating a completely separate menu for baby. Basically, Warren eats a version of whatever we eat. I may need to cut it up for him or burst open the blueberries so they aren’t a choking hazard but essentially he just eats what we eat. I LOVE that.
Preparing baby for food by sitting in high chair during meal time for a few weeks prior to starting solids.
How We Started Baby Led Weaning
We gave Warren his actual first bites of food, that he fed himself!, at 6 1/2 months. A few weeks before that, I knew it was getting time to start solids. So I set up his high chair at the table and put a few toys out and would have him sit with me while I ate lunch. This way he could practice learning to sit in his chair and get used to how things work around the dining table without the stress of the food or eating just yet.
One of the main principle of Baby Led Weaning is that the baby is part of the family and eats with the family. So I decided to practice this part first! After a few days, Warren was sitting up better in his chair, trunk control is important when eating, and he was definitely showing more interest in what I was eating.
My mom and Granny were very worried about choking. After doing my research, I wasn’t too worried about choking. I did brush up on my CPR and choking first aid just to be prepared though. I watched a lot of videos on gagging versus choking. Warren did gag but he still (knock on wood) has never choked. Everyone is going to have a different comfort level when it comes to this issue, so I say just educate yourself, talk to your friends, family and pediatrician and decide what is right for you.
That being said, I did discuss our plan to do Baby Led Weaning with our pediatrician at Warren’s 6 month check up and she gave us the green light. This made me feel better to know that she agreed he was ready.
Organic free range boiled egg cut into quarters, banana sticks rolled in flax meal.
The First Meals
With Baby Led Weaning, you want to have the food soft enough at first that baby can swallow without much chewing. You want to avoid anything crunchy, sticky or round. You also want the food to be able to be picked up by baby. Most guidance I saw recommend making food about the length and width of your pinky finger.
Some great first foods are avocado cut into slices, banana or egg cut into quarters and broccoli heads that have been slightly oversteamed and cooled to the touch.
Since there are no severe food allergies in our family and Warren didn’t have any other signs of food sensitivities like eczema, we weren’t too worried about allergies. If you are concerned about allergies, talk with your pediatrician about how to proceed. There is lots of information about food allergies out there that will be helpful if you find yourself in that situation. Much of the current research suggests that introducing allergy foods early and often is good for preventing allergies from developing.
Broccoli stalk steamed until very tender, allowed to cool and seasoned with lemon juice and parmesan.
Getting Into An Eating Routine With Baby
Ok now to the good stuff! After you’ve decided to introduce food, here is how to actually do that. By the time we were ready to introduce solids, Warren was on a pretty good schedule of having four bottles a day at 7am, 11am, 3pm and 7pm. I started by introducing a few bites with his 11am bottle for about two weeks. I went really slow. Some schedules go much faster and introduce more food but I wasn’t in a rush. At first, I would give him his bottle and then have him sit in his high chair and offer the bites. This way he wasn’t hungry or frustrated and could just taste and explore the food without being fussy.
Next, I added a few bites immediately after this 3pm bottle. I did that for a few weeks. Then I started giving him Greek yogurt before his bath, around 6/6:30pm followed by his 7pm bottle before he went to bed. That last meal I added was breakfast. I did the same, giving him his morning bottle, then a few bites of food afterwards.
I did this for probably about 3 months, until he was around 9 1/2 months old. Yes, this meant I was technically feeding him 8 times a day! Yes, that’s a lot of time and dishes haha. But remember this was 2020 so I was always at home.
Baby Led Weaning Transition Meal Routine:
- 7am: Wake, change diaper, give morning bottle, then a few bites of oatmeal or scrambled eggs.
- 11am: Wake after morning nap, change diaper, give lunch bottle, then a few bites of cheese, steamed veggies or shredded chicken.
- 3pm: Wake after afternoon nap, change diaper, give afternoon bottle, then a few bites of fruit, avocado, cheese.
- 6pm: Give Greek yogurt, usually with peanut butter stirred in, bath, dinner bottle then bed.
Inner romaine leaf with a schmear of ranch dressing made with whole milk Greek yogurt.
Transition to More Food and Less Bottles
Around 9 1/2 to 10 months, Warren began to eat more food after his bottles and he had a few teeth so I knew he was ready to transition again. I basically did the inverse of the previous routine. I began with his lunch or 11am meal. I offered him food first and then his bottle. I did this for about a week this time as he was catching on faster to the eating. Then I added in his 3pm meal. Offered the food first, then the bottle afterwards.
This time, I did the breakfast meal first switch up first, offering breakfast foods and then bottle. I kept his night time bottle until he was a year old. At his one year check up, I spoke with his pediatrician again and we both agreed he was doing great and ready to transition off the bottle. So, I slowly reduced the amount of his night time bottle over about 10 days until he really wasn’t drinking much of it at all anyways because he was so full from his dinner foods. I offered him water from a straw cup just before bed with his story because I was worried he might miss his bottle but honestly he transitioned really easily. And it never disrupted his sleep – yay!
During this transition process he began drinking less from his bottles on his own, so I slowly started giving him less in his bottles starting with lunch, then afternoon, then morning and finally dinner. It happened kind of naturally and I never felt like he was going hungry or being deprived. This was something I was worried about so I just paid attention to his signs and cues. If I felt he needed more milk, then I gave it to him but I don’t recall this happening more than once or twice on the rare occasion.
I began by decreasing the amount by 2 ounces. So I would go from 8oz to 6oz for a few days with lunch, then I would decrease the afternoon from 8oz to 6oz. And slowly I would begin reducing ounces every few days or so from feedings and see how it went. The last bottle I began reducing was the last bottle of the day since that would be the longest time he would go between feedings. Again, as he ate more food, he would naturally decrease the amount of milk he drank.
Transition To More Food:
7am: Wake, change diaper, give oatmeal made with whole milk and berries, then offer bottle.
11am: Wake from morning nap, change diaper, give cheese, shredded chicken, pasta or steamed veggies, then offer bottle.
3pm: Wake from afternoon nap, change diaper, give puffs, fruit, avocado, hummus or cheese, then offer bottle.
6pm: Give Greek yogurt with peanut butter stirred in, bath, story time and offer bottle.
Types of Meals to Offer with Baby Led Weaning
There are endless options of foods you can offer with Baby Led Weaning! That is one of the things I love about it. Since we mostly eat fresh, whole foods at home, this also made it easy to feed Warren whatever we ate.
Above is one of his favorite meals: Pesto Pasta with some sausage and thinly sliced strawberries.
When I make meals for Warren I try to incorporate a protein, a fat and a carb, fruit or veggie. I try to balance out his meals so that he feels full and won’t be hungry until the next time to eat. Also, this is just good practice for life! Of course, with Baby Led Weaning, the idea is that the baby feed themself. This is definitely easier said than done. We try to practice this at each meal but we definitely help him, i.e. spoon feed him on occasion. But we never force or sneak bites into his mouth. We want him to eat until he is full.
You can practice this with sign language for “more please” and “all done.” We also have a little song we made up and sing whenever meal time is over so that Warren knows that the meal is over. These are things that help when he is getting frustrated at meal time. Which again, this is normal. We try our best to keep meals as stress free as possible. We don’t praise or encourage him for the amount he eats. Instead, we praise him for “using his spoon like a big boy” or “staying seated at the table” things like that.
Usually our meals last 15-20 minutes at most. Sometimes they might be as short as 5 minutes. Sometimes he will clear his plate and we will offer more servings if he seems hungry and interested. Other times, a lot of food might wind up being thrown on the floor or ignored. Again normal. Frustrating for mama? Oh yeah. I try to think of his meals in terms of days or weeks. Some days he will be ravenous and others eat like a bird. Again, all normal.
Here is an afternoon meal of shredded chicken, colby jack cheese and thinly sliced pineapple.
This afternoon meal is puffs, or Pirate Booty, sliced olives, strawberries and colby jack cheese. Warren LOVES olives!
Here is a quick lunch of a simple marinara sauce with Casarecce noodles and shredded chicken along with some sharp white cheddar and squished blueberries.
Here is a quick meal of avocado smashed with some shredded chicken and a pinch of coriander and cumin with a squeeze of lime. I call this one “baby guac” and some very, very thinly sliced apples.
This lunch is grapes that are quartered, thinly sliced cucumber with feta, sliced olives and bread cubes with hummus.
For this meal, we had some leftover chile rellenos that I gave Warren some of the rice with veggies along with some cheddar, tomatoes and strawberries.
For this lunch, I gave him some torn grilled chicken, steamed broccoli and red pepper (skin removed), with some cheddar and olives.
Here is a lunch of a cheese quesadilla cut into bite-sized pieces. I had more to offer him if he wanted and some olives and grapes.
What I’ve Learned From Baby Led Weaning
I’ve learned so much from this experience! Babies are really capable of eating a wide range of foods if we just give them a chance. Feeding kids can definitely be a messy experience. Like really messy. So just prepare yourself for that. It’s important to let kids gets messy. They want to explore the new textures and flavors. If the adults around are fussing about their clothes and food everywhere during every meal, this can make for a stressful eating experience and that can lead to other issues in the future. This is another easier said than done thing. So just do your best to not get frustrated with the mess and let baby experience the food.
I’ve also learned that kids really like flavor. Like big, bold flavors. Warren still doesn’t like plain banana but he loves Tikka Masala. Doesn’t care for American cheese but will take some sharp cheddar. So, don’t be afraid to spice up things! I mean let’s be honest, nobody actually like plain steamed broccoli. Add some flavor like ranch dressing, hummus or lemon and parmesan. If you wouldn’t like it then there’s a good chance your baby won’t either.
My Favorite Baby Led Weaning Resources and Items
One of the main principles of Baby Led Weaning is making baby a part of the family during meal time. With that in mind, one of the most important purchases will be a high chair that allows that to happen more easily. There are lots out there but just keep that, and how easy it is to clean, in mind when choosing your chair.
I mentioned this earlier, but it’s important to include baby at meal times as often as possible. Again, depending on what age and phase your baby is in, this can be easier sometimes than others. But as much as you can, try to sit down and have a meal with baby. Let them see you eat, using a fork and a napkin, taking a drink, etc. etc. These are all things your baby will start to mimic as they learn to eat. The more you practice the easier it gets.
- Our high chair — I love it because it is really easy to clean, it grows with the child and it’s aesthetically pleasing.
- We love these plates and bowls because they are food grade silicone and dishwasher safe.
- These are the utensils I like best. We tried a few others but these are easiest for Warren to grasp. He also uses his hands a lot too, haha.
- These bibs are great! They catch a lot of food and you just pop them into the dishwasher.
ProTip: We have a four sets of these since we feed Warren four times a day. That means we just put his dishes in the dishwasher every night so clean up is faster and easier.
Baby Led Weaning Resources:
Here are links to accounts, sites and books that I found helpful and informative:
- Solid Starts is a really great resource and they have an index of so many foods.
- This book has lots of great images and ideas for very first foods. It’s helpful especially at the beginning!
- This book has some recipes that are good for learning. I liked some of them and others I like to use as a base and put my spin on things.
- Feeding Littles is great account with really informative posts. I always find myself sending these to the hubs and grandparents so they understand too.
If you’ve made it this far — thanks for reading! If you have questions, comments or other resources that might be helpful please drop a comment below!