I’m really excited to share our experience starting baby led weaning. I thought it might be helpful to share Cara’s first foods, how I’m preparing her meals, and our set up. I hope it’ll help you get started, as I know how daunting it can be at the beginning!
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We began weaning Cara the day she turned 6 months old. I have to say, we’re finding it so much easier the second time around. You see, we introduced my son Jonah to solids with baby led weaning too. He’s almost 3 now, and a voracious (yet very messy!) eater. So, we know the differences between gagging and choking, we’re more prepared to deal with the mess, and importantly we’ve seen first-hand the benefits of baby led weaning.
If you’re unsure if baby led weaning is right for your family, it’s definitely worth reading up on the benefits, or buy the book – it’s a great read!
With baby led weaning, there are no purees or special baby foods. Our baby eats what we eat, but modified to make it easier to handle and swallow. And of course we limit salt and sugar. Our baby gets to enjoy whole foods! It really is quite amazing to witness how capable such a young baby is – it’s awe-inspiring!
One of the great things about baby led weaning is how it’s motivated our family to eat more healthily again. We finally got back to buying and preparing fresh produce to make healthy family meals from.
So let’s jump in and take a look at Cara’s first foods.
First foods for baby led weaning
Cara started with 3 meals a day. Already sat in the high chair to play during our meals, it only seemed right to include her. If she’s asleep, we simply keep her meal back for her.
For the record, Cara has no teeth yet. For the first 4 days, we offered Cara whole foods including bananas, watermelon, sweet potato, broccoli, carrot, pear, avocado, cucumber, and red pepper, all cut into sizes and shapes she could pick up and gnaw at. See this great resource for how to cut baby led weaning foods to the right shape and size.
Obviously some foods we offer raw but ripe, but some we cook so that they’re soft enough for her to actually mush between her gums and swallow.
From the fifth day, we started with foods like toast fingers with unsalted butter, cheese sticks, and soft roast chicken she could mush up in her mouth. Sure she had no allergies, we just jumped in with wheat and dairy.
For the first week, she really didn’t swallow much and we didn’t see much chewing or gagging – she sucked everything. Going into the second week her chewing had much improved. We saw a little more gagging, and her nappies changed and became more frequent, so we knew she was taking in more food.
In the second week, she ate no-sugar pancakes, breakfast muffins, yogurt, and cereal (Shredded Wheat, Weetabix) on a loaded spoon. She also ate all kinds of “dinner in a ball” foods I’ll list at the end, with links to the recipes.
Creating meals and a freezer stash
We deconstruct our evening meals for our baby. So if we’re having chicken curry, she has strips of chicken in curry sauce, with all the veg kept handleable. Steaming harder foods like carrots first so she can mush them, then adding them back in to the sauce, works well.
I find it so enjoyable to think up ways she can eat our food. And I do a little happy dance when she finds it easy to handle something I made her. Even more so when she actually eats it!
Batch cooking is our saviour. Every time I make a meal and a baby-friendly version of it, I make sure to make more than she needs and stash some away in the freezer. It’s more work up-front, but it means I have a lovely freezer stash for Cara and she’s never without a real meal!
Here are some of the items I’ve made and stashed in my freezer for our first two weeks:
- Breakfast muffins
- Blueberry pancakes
- Carrot quiche (just grated carrot, cheese, and egg in a muffin tray)
- Turkey meatballs
- Cheese and lentil wedges
- Salmon and sweet potato balls (flaked cooked salmon rolled with mashed sweet potato)
The Baby Led Weaning Cookbook is an invaluable resource for creating family-friendly meals that your baby can enjoy.
What equipment for baby led weaning?
We use a Mamas & Papas Snax highchair which gives excellent support for little babies, yet is still good for toddlers. Jonah used it up to being about 2 1/2.
It’s worth investing in the right bibs because there will be mess. If it’s warm enough, stripping down to your baby’s nappy is a good way to stop staining. But if not, two layers gives the best protection. We use the fabulous Messy Little Thing bib for all over protection. It even stops juice from running up your baby’s sleeve! Over the top, to catch mushed up food, we use a soft silicone bib. Despite bibs, there will be stains. We get through a lot of stain remover!
Final thoughts on starting Baby Led Weaning
I’m so impressed with my little one! She seems to be a great lover of food already and naturally leans towards juicy red foods like watermelon and tomato. She gags less than my son did, in part because she goes more slowly, but also because Jonah had teeth earlier than Cara, he was literally biting off more than he could chew at only 6 months old.
Going beyond two weeks, Cara’s confidence is really increasing and we’ve introduced all kinds of new foods. I’ll be updating again here and sharing some tasty Baby Led Food.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas for starting baby led weaning! This is such an exciting time for Cara and us! We just love watching her skill and patience improve, and above all Cara enjoying her food and her time at the table with us.
Have you tried baby led weaning? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time!