What is baby-led weaning?
It can seem strange to give a tiny person such solid, non-mushed-up food, but according to the National Childbirth Trust, if your baby is receptive to this technique there are benefits. For instance, babies can choose and explore food themselves, which helps them gain independence. They also get used to different food textures from the start and, according to many parents, babies who choose what to feed themselves seem to have wider food tastes1.
‘I was dubious about baby-led weaning at the start, but I could see straight away how much Lennox was enjoying meal times, even when he wasn’t eating that much,’ says dad, Tim. ‘Feeling, playing with and tasting food was fascinating to him so there was no need to pretend the spoon was an aeroplane to get him to open his mouth. Plus with no blending everything into a purée, it was less effort for us!’
What finger foods to start with
The NHS suggests starting off with finger foods that break up easily and are long enough for babies to grip. Avoid hard food such as raw carrots and apples, as they could be choking hazards. Grapes are also a common choking hazard 2.
Soft cooked vegetables, such as carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, butternut squash (include a range and not just ‘sweet’ veg like carrot, to ensure your baby is introduced to a wide variety of flavours)
Soft or cooked apple, pear, peach, melon, banana
Cooked starchy foods, such as potato, pasta and rice
Pulses, such as beans and lentils
If your baby isn’t overly interested at first - don’t worry. It’s important to move at baby’s pace and with enough experimentation, you will find a selection of foods that they enjoy, making meal time more manageable for everyone. And of course, never leave a baby to eat unattended. If you’re looking for full meal ideas, read our messy menu article, and while you’re there, check out our great food playtime ideas article3.