Baby Led Weaning – Introduction (6 and 7 Months)
This is what works for my family. You may have to do something different. Every baby is different. I just wanted to share what we did.
Welcome to my tips for baby led weaning. This is my second time doing this, but I found I forgot many things from when my first started eating foods… especially the time frame of when each food was introduced. Below you’ll find what she started eating and how I’ve been making it. So far my favorite food to start them on are boiled broccoli and carrots. Both of these are long enough to have a good handle for holding onto and are soft enough, when boiled, to allow the baby to eat it. Both of my kids LOVED broccoli… at least until they got older and discovered ‘better’ foods. Another food I hear of often is avocados, but it hasn’t been a favorite in our house though that may have been because it wasn’t offered as much.
With my first baby we started her on food at about 5 1/2 months as we couldn’t stand to wait any longer. I think we also tried to feed her at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our doctor had told us, can’t remember at what point, to make sure that Ada hadn’t just breastfed before feeding her so I tried to find the balance between being hungry and not starving or hangry (hungry and angry). There was much more stress involved. We had also read to wait a week between new foods; but as time went on we decreased the wait to three days.. as we read elsewhere to wait 2-3 days between new foods.
With our second we waited until she was six months and two days old and introduced her to yams on Christmas Day. I wasn’t rushing to introduce food as I wasn’t looking forward to cleaning up the mess eating would create or deal with the smellier and chunkier diapers. If I had to do it again I would’ve started with avocados or broccoli instead of yams. The yam pieces weren’t easy for her to hold onto and they were too big in her mouth so we ended up mashing them for her. Between having our first and second baby I had read that you can introduced several new foods in one day and had reread that baby led weaning is more about fun with food than actual nourishment; that feeding is secondary to the breast milk or formula. These points allowed me to make it more convenient and fun this time along. Another way I made it simpler was that I started by only feeding her actual food during lunch and supper so in the early morning rush the toddler and I ate convenient cereal and I didn’t have to prepare something more complicated for her.
So far we’ve found it easier to cut up, and cook, one extra Zoey-food with our meals (for example making boiled broccoli as a side), packing away a couple of meals worth for the baby (so you know how much the rest of the table can eat and you don’t have it going bad in the fridge), and then the next day you serve that item for lunch, make another item for supper, and then the baby has two foods to pick from for supper. This way the overall arrangement of the foods may change everyday but it melds with your meals easier. As she progresses in what foods she’ll eat it will be much easier and we’ll all eat the same thing. If I’m planning ahead and know we’ll be out of the house for lunch, and have a way to keep food coldish, then I may throw some of whatever the food she would’ve been eating into a container for her to have. She’s often more interested in the little container and lid than the food that was packed inside so don’t stress if you have a busy day. I also like having some frozen vegetables in the freezer on hand in case I need something for Zoey to eat and I’m out of fresh vegetables.
Overall, I mostly try to cut all the food into long batonnet shaped pieces. And remember your baby doesn’t know if the food you’re serving is supposed to be hot or cold so don’t worry. The food is for fun and if their new ‘toys’ are cold leftovers from the day before well… the food might feel better on their gums and, bonus, a new sensory material. I like to say who needs a sensory bin when you have different temperatures and/or textures of food to play with. When preparing each meal our high chair’s table section can come off for easy washing so I normally just put it in the kitchen so it’s accessible, lay out, squish, and cool any hot food, and then bring it out to her once she’s buckled into the high chair and wearing a bib.
Foods we’ve introduced so far, over her sixth and seventh months, are:
This hasn’t been a favorite in our house, but there are a load of benefits. Just cut in half, carefully use a knife to twist the pit out, peel the avocado, and slice into long pieces. No cooking involved which makes me wish my kids appreciated it more.
Peel, half, and core the apple. Put it cut side down. Slice it and either stop there or turn it on its side to cut it into square sticks.
Cut off a half or a third of the banana, cut it into strips by laying it on its side and slicing it two or three times, turn it 90 degrees, and cut it into two or three pieces again. You have four to nine strips of banana.
Clean and then cut each floret off the main section while trying to keep some stalk attached to each piece. Any large florets can be cut smaller lengthwise. Basically you want floret sections your baby will want to gnaw on while holding onto their handy little holders; aka the stalk of the broccoli. You can either steam or boil the broccoli. To boil take some water, bring it to a boil, throw the broccoli in, boil it until it’s fork tender. To be easier you can also throw the broccoli into an empty pot as you clean it, then add water, and cook it. Either way works. Basically you want it to be soft enough that your baby can chew bits off (the top goes everywhere) but stable enough it doesn’t fall apart too easily while they play with it. You could also roast it and attempt different seasonings if you get tired of boiled broccoli.
Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, peel, lay cut side down, slice into strips, put the strips on the side, and slice into strips again. Ideally the long and stick-like pieces went to baby and the pieces that were too close to the center or edges and were more cube-like were given to the toddler and adults.
Scrub and/or peel the carrots, cut them lengthwise into batonnets, wide julienne cuts, and then if they’re too long I cut the sticks in half. Throw them in a pot, fill with water, bring it to a boil, and cook until fork tender. You could also steam or roast them.
The frozen vegetables are perfect to have in the freezer just in case you are out of food for your baby and are eating something they’re not ready to share with you.
Peas and Corn
The peas and corn have a tough skin so I’ve been staying on the safe side and squashing them with my fork before serving.
Carrots and Cauliflower
Just give it as is once it’s softened
The mixed frozen veggies we bought lately had chunks of zucchini. For the selection I gave Zoey I first removed any large pieces of skin just in case.
Same as the cantaloupe above.
Peel it, slice it one way, turn 90 degrees, and slice it again so you get sticks.
So far the best way I found was cut the bit to the left of the mango pit, you can tell from the stem area, off first. Then cut the right side of the mango off. Peel both portions and cut it into strips so the baby can hold it. I found this fruit is hard for them to pick up so it’s easier if you lay it over another food or bump on the tray. The leftover mango from around the pit was perfect for my toddler to eat as she didn’t need it to be in perfect finger food strips.
Same as the apple above.
With Zoey we first introduced her to yams in chunks, but it was hard to hold onto and was too big to be in her mouth at once. She got to try more after we mashed it on the high chair tray with a fork. A better way to do this, which we only prepared once, was to peel and cut a yam into fry shaped pieces, toss with olive oil and some seasoning, and roast in the oven. This made it easier to hold as the outside of the yam fry formed a skin from the roasting process so they didn’t crumble in her hand and it was soft on the inside.
At this point bananas were my least favorite to clean up as it’s goopy and sticky. Broccoli comes next as the seeds on the top go everywhere! I realized that as soon as Zoey started eating real food that I hadn’t realized how tidily (ha) my toddler ate. For Ada at some point in the process I introduced meat by starting her with Trans-Ocean Crab Classic Imitation Crab Meat. It comes pre-cooked so you can always give it to them before or after you cook with it. One quick dish for yourself and/or toddler is pasta with a butter, imitation crab, and frozen pea sauce served over it or mixed it. This also offers you an opportunity to serve your baby buttery pollock and squished peas if you rescue it from the pan before mixing it with the pasta. As it cooks it puffs up and the layers of the imitation crab separate.
When Zoey was older
I bought some WeeSprout reusable food pouches. Both my kids LOVE applesauce in the pouches. I wish I had introduced the pouches way earlier to Zoey. Even though I decided to do baby led weaning I would’ve changed it up with the odd healthy puree/smoothie for both kids.