Baby Led Weaning (BLW) has moved into our language when we talk about moving baby on to solid food. The difference is that BLW means starting the baby on finger foods and letting your baby call the shots and decide what to eat and how to eat it. We put a sample of all sorts of small soft food items out on the highchair tray. Let baby pick them up, examine them and put them in their mouth ... or not. We start on finger foods and NOT purees. It is offering food so the baby decides what to eat and not giving.
Finger foods are exactly that, a stage of moving onto solids after we have introduced purees. You and your baby determine which approach suits both of you best.
Read my blog on moving onto lumpy food and introduction to solids for more background on this topic: https://www.nurtureparenting.com.au/moving-your-baby-onto-solid-food/
Successful eating has a process of - observe - play with - examine - smell - taste and then either spit out or eat.
If a baby has control of food by the use of finger foods they will eat more food and make better food choices.
Babies actually know what a balanced diet is. By exposing them to different things rather than the bland puree we increase the chances of having a child like more foods and being open to a varied diet.
However many babies do not have the skill to feed themselves enough food to help them sleep. So finger foods and a sneaky spoon in the mix is the answer for many babies.
Finger foods help those fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and speech development.
We need to start on very soft items and grade up till eventually at 10-12 months old baby can eat harder to chew items like lamb chops and bread.
Just go at baby's pace. They are less likely to choke if they are able to control the food that goes into their mouth.
What to start on
- Broccoli florets steamed and very soft (need to pass the squidge test, i.e. go to mush when squeezed between your fingers)
- Carrot sticks boiled/steamed and very soft
- Omelette and pancakes cut into strips
- Grated cheese
- Soft fruits such as peaches, mango and nectarines cut into pieces
- Steamed or stewed slices of apple and pear
- Steamed or oven roasted pumpkin, butternut squash and sweet potato. These taste even nicer oven roasted in olive oil which caramelises the natural sugar/starch in them. Yummy!
Next stage - here's a few more ideas
- Cruskits spread with things like avocado, cheese spread and vegemite (baby's in OZ love it!)
- Pasta - penne, farfalle and spirals cooked till al dente (soft)
- Lasagne and ravioli
- Lentil patties
- Sushi - sliced cucumber and rice rolls or cooked and sliced tuna rolls. No sashimi
- Vietnamese rice paper rolls
- Yum Cha
- Rissoles and meat balls (blend meat in a food processor - mix with breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs and a beaten egg and optional grated vegies like carrrot, zucchini and parsnip)
- Chicken strips - try Annabel Karmel's recipe www.annabelkarmel.com.au
- Chicken drumsticks
- Lamb cutlets cooked medium rare
- Mange tout and baby sweetcorn steamed
- Sausages (gourmet and low salt) cut into pieces (not frankfurters as these can cause choking)
- Cucumber and tomato cut into slices
- Sandwiches with crusts cut off, cut into triangles or fingers
- Then eventually onto foods like lamb chops, toast cut into soldiers and bread.
Foods to avoid till baby is well practiced at self feeding - usually at least 2 years of age
- Raisins, sultanas and nuts
- Hard pieces of apple and carrot
- Bread that is very soft and doughy - ends up in the cheeks and baby stores it there like a chipmunk and can choke easily
- Whole grapes
- Tough cuts of meat and overcooked steak
Some further reading below