Is your baby giving you signs that they’re ready for solids? Give them the control and let them feed themselves from the start of the weaning process. Baby-led weaning is focused on making your family dinner time a more positive, social experience for your baby. Discover some of our baby-led weaning ideas for some inspiration on where to begin.
Baby-Led Weaning Foods
We all love to explore, and babies are no different. Soft foods are important at the beginning of their journey, as they start to familiarise themselves with solids. Finger foods are fun and interactive, but you can also serve your little one a small portion of a cooked dish – like shepherd’s pie. Just make sure you leave out the salt. As your baby progresses onto more adventurous meals, you’ll be able to try them out with more solid, full meals. Here are some examples of finger foods that you can start your baby out with:
- Soft-cooked vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, courgette, parsnip and sweet potato
- Carrot or cucumber sticks and slices of avocado
- Fresh fruits, such as apple (soft-cooked if needed), banana or soft, ripe peeled pear or peach
- Toast, pitta or chapatti fingers
- Unsalted and unsweetened rice or corn cakes
- Strips of meat without bones, such as chicken and lamb
- Cheesy toast fingers and cucumber
- Hard boiled eggs
- Omelette fingers
Baby-Led Weaning Recipes to Try at Home
From finger foods to full meals, here are just a couple of the baby-led weaning recipes that you can try at home today – with something for each stage of weaning.
Carrot, Swede and Celeriac Mash
The starting point. This recipe is full of delicious veggies – we have recommended a few of our favourites but play around with any root vegetables, like parsnips and sweet potato.
- 200g of celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
- 200g of carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
- 200g of swede, peeled and cut into chunks
- A splash of your baby’s regular milk
- Steam the vegetables until tender.
- Blitz into a purée using a food processor or mash with a fork. If you find that the mixture is too thick, add in a little of the baby’s regular milk.
Soft yet yummy, this recipe is perfect for playing around with and allowing you to try your baby with new flavours and vegetables. Why not start with:
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 pepper, chopped
- 1 tomato, deseeded and chopped
- 1 tbsp of grated cheddar
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
- Crack the egg into a bowl and beat.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion, pepper and tomato until soft.
- Add the egg into the pan.
- Cook until the egg is set and the base is golden brown.
- Remove from the pan and allow to cool.
- Serve in finger-sized slices.
This filling meal is full of flavour and a perfect way to introduce your baby to oily fish – and you can eat it too! This will really help to encourage a positive, sociable dinnertime experience.
- 1 chopped white onion
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1l of vegetable stock (use two cubes for more flavour)
- 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 350g of risotto rice
- 2 salmon fillets
- 100g frozen peas
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Bake the salmon for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
- While the salmon is cooking, heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic.
- Add in the peas and the rice and stir. Follow with the vegetable stock, until the rice and veggies are covered.
- Cover and gently simmer until the majority of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. If it’s needed, add more water to the pan and continue to simmer until the rice is fully cooked.
- Tear the salmon into flakes and add into the pan.
- Serve a small portion to your baby and a bigger bowl for yourself. Or, save the rest for later.
Still looking for inspiration? Check out our blog on healthy lunch ideas for babies for various suggestions on what to feed your baby throughout each stage of weaning.
Top Tips for Baby-Led Weaning
Here are some of our top tips to successful baby-led weaning:
- Your child needs to be able to close their hand around the food so that they can pick it up and eat it. Longer pieces of food are better, so where you can, cut food into sticks approximately 5cm long.
- Crinkle-cut or jagged foods are easier for little hands to grip on to, so why not try cutting the food into interesting shapes.
- Just try a couple of pieces/types of food to begin with, so you don’t overwhelm or confuse them. For example, if you’re having a roast dinner, try feeding your tot small portions of soft vegetables.
- It may start out a little chaotic, but don’t worry about that. You need to let your baby pick up the food with their fingers as this allows them to learn to safely move it around their mouths. Let them have fun and enjoy their discovery of food.
- Have everything ready before they come to the table, so they don’t get impatient or restless.
- With each new meal, include at least one ingredient/component that you know they will like and eat. You can’t expect them to like everything, every time.
- If you’re attending parties or visiting restaurants with your baby or toddler, don’t shy away from trying them with new foods or exposing them to new flavours. Make sure that whatever you’re sharing with them is small and soft.
- If you’re creating your own baby food, blend the ingredients and pour into an ice cube tray. Then freeze for later. Once frozen, pop out one ‘cube’ of food and warm for a baby-sized portion with no waste.
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Find your local SPAR