By Stacey Avila, CCMA

Watching my son grow has been the toughest part of being a parent, learning to keep my hands to myself while he tries to do everything on his own has been a challenge. I want to feel needed, yet he wants to feel independent. So Bittersweet! I began to baby Led-wean in hopes of embedding security and independence in my son’s daily tasks, starting with his very first meal.

 I have always encouraged his ability to be self-sufficient, starting with Baby Led-Weaning. When I first introduced my son to solids I knew I wanted him to feel capable when it came to food. The baby-led weaning method means you start your baby on solid food and encourage the baby to feed him/herself vs introducing spoon-fed purees or soft foods. This method emboldens healthy eating habits and fine motor skills.

Baby-led weaning is led by babies allowing them to pick up the food and feed at their own pace. Some parents choose to use this method as the prime source for weaning babies off breastfeeding/formula, yet other parents continue to breastfeed/formula feed their baby for the abundant nutrients. Either way works!

Benefits of baby Led-weaning:

  • Babies practice hand-eye coordination
  • Babies practice their pincer grip. (important motor skill)
  • Develop quicker acknowledgment for chewing and swallowing
  • More likely to try new foods, flavors, and textures

Babies are usually ready to start led-weaning around 6-8months yet all babies are different and some may need more time than others. 

Signs that baby might be ready for solids:

  • Can sit up without support
  • Being interested in the food your eating 
  • Reaching for your food
  • Putting objects in their mouth
  • Making chewing motions while watching you eat

Ways to start Led-Weaning

The introduction period should be based mostly on the acknowledgment of foods and textures. The goal is for the baby to play and explore with the food at first. If you are one who worries about the mess, definitely recommend getting a large bib or smock. Try newspaper under the high chair for easy clean-up. Always have a close eye on your baby, never leave them unattended while exploring foods. Make sure they are sitting upward and not leaning back. Put food directly in front of baby weather on a sectional plate or straight on the high chair top. Try to eat as a family babies observe, learn and imitate. Mealtime is trial and error regardless of the feeding method you choose to go with. What works for one family is not always what works for yours. Grant yourself room to make adjustments to fit your baby.

Baby led-weaning recommendations from our Birth Center Mama’s Facebook Group

  • Steamed baby carrots
  • Sliced avocado 
  • Sliced toast with avocado spread
  • Sliced and steamed peppers
  • Apple slices
  • Plum slices
  • Pear slices
  • Bread or toast
  • Pancakes (add fruit and veggies such as berries and kale to the mix)
  • Nut butter as a spread
  • Jam as a spread
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Hummus
  • Beans
  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Steamed squash
  • Steamed zucchini
  • Scrambled eggs (can add cheese and spinach)
  • Stir fry with ground turkey, squash, zucchini, and spinach
  • Tofu
  • Veggie Muffins
  • Banana Bread
  • Meatballs (with hidden veggies)
  • Pasta (can add a tomato or pesto sauce)
  • Peas
  • Steamed green beans
  • Steamed/baked/fried wild-caught fish
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Rice cakes
  • Steamed sweet potato or white potato sticks
  • Steamed butternut squash sticks
  • Veggie burgers
  • Chickpeas
  • Cucumber slices
  • Shredded cheese
  • Roasted beets
  • Banana
  • Pumpkin
  • Smoothies with a straw

Below I will link my favorite page for BLW recipes: