These simple, minimal-prep, baby-led weaning first food ideas are perfect for teaching a 6 month old how to eat.
To be honest, I’m not much for cliches, but when I think about the fact that it’s already January of 2018, I can’t help but wonder how I made it from 39 weeks pregnant last June to the New Year. Like, when did my baby become almost 7 months old?? Call it mom-brain in mega overdrive, but I seriously have no idea what happened to the second half of 2017. And yet, here we are.
So a few weeks ago when it came time to start solids with our second baby, I was just overrun with all the cliches. When did my baby get so big? I can’t believe she’s ready to eat food! Quick, someone get me another baby, ASAP!
Right around the holidays, we started baby-led weaning with our little girl, Penelope. Beginning this process with our second baby has definitely been a much different experience than the first time around. With our first baby, Harper, we found that she would sort of “gum” the food she held in her hand, while Penelope seems to “bite” the food with her gums. I think it’s safe to say this would make any parent nervous, even with soft foods, so this time around we’ve modified our approach to still fit the baby-led weaning method, but also fit what works for our second baby.
Side Note: I often receive a lot of emails and comments with questions about starting BLW and using this method in general, and my best advice is to do what you feel comfortable with. You know your baby best. As we’ve learned, what works for one baby may not work for another.
When to Get Started
While it’s obviously very exciting to start solid foods with your baby, there’s no rush! The time-frame to start baby-led weaning is 6-8 months. As I mentioned above, you know your baby best, and you’ll know when they’re ready. But here are the basics:
- Your baby needs to be able to sit up on their own, without assistance.
- They need to be developmentally healthy and ready for solids (at you or your pediatrician’s discretion)
We started both Harper and Penelope at 6 months because they were both very interested in watching other’s eat, and exhibited both signs above (developmentally healthy, sitting up unassisted).
Now comes the fun part. What foods to start with?
So you want to try baby-led weaning because of the many benefits, but are sort of weary of just handing over a stick of sweet potato to your 6 month old? I totally get it. Like I mentioned above, I’ve had two very different experiences with both kids. In my opinion, as long as you’re still letting baby feed themselves, and offering texturally diverse foods, you’re good-to-go, BLW-wise.
Easy Baby-Led Weaning First Food Ideas
The food ideas below are listed in the order we tried them. Most pediatricians recommend trying one new food every 4-5 days in order to spot allergies early on.
- Avocado is my favorite first food, because…avocado? Okay, it’s probably just my favorite food in general. We started out by just mashing the avocado (so it still had some texture but was also still soft) and letting both kids play in it until they eventually realized they had something delicious stuck to their little fingers.
- Banana was the second food we tried with both kids as well, just mashed up on the highchair tray.
- Sweet Potato – peel, steam or bake it, mash until mostly smooth, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and a top with a baby pinch of real Parmesan cheese (this also works with Carrots or Butternut Squash)
- Applesauce – not “baby food” apples, just real applesauce. Homemade is amazing but with a toddler running around, a GoGo Squeez will do just fine. I squeezed some onto the highchair tray and just let her play and taste, and also handed her some on a spoon to try herself (more on this below in Favorite Products)
- Yogurt AKA yogurt mess. This is a fun one. Just so we’re all on the same page, your baby does not need “baby” yogurt – they just need Whole Milk yogurt, preferably Organic or Grass-fed (for the many health benefits).
I also used this chart below to keep track of which new foods we tried and what she liked!
Just enter your email and I’ll send your free printable ASAP!
Some of our Favorite Combos are:
- Yogurt mixed with Earth’s Best Baby Oats (I don’t measure, I just add a little until it’s thickened, but still easy enough for baby to swallow)
- Yogurt, mashed banana and a teeny-tiny pinch of ground cinnamon or ginger
- Yogurt, mashed bananas and mashed strawberries
- Yogurt, mashed sweet potato, and a little baby drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (gots to get the savories in there, too!)
- Yogurt and mashed avocado
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Now, if your baby is ready to move on to more solid, firm foods, here are a few simple suggestions.
- Avocado Toast Fingers: use a good, wholesome bread (we like Dave’s Killer White Bread Done Right). I find it’s best to make the toast super toasty since things magically become very mushy in a baby’s little hands.
- Apple Slices: Be sure to peel the apple first, then cut a thick circle shape (something easy for baby to hold, like in the picture below)
- Scrambled Eggs: I cooked the eggs in a tiny bit of good-quality butter, then sort of smushed them on the highchair tray.
- Steamed Baby Peas: Mashed with a little bit of avocado to make it easier for her to pick up – this was a fun one, and by fun, I mean extremely messy.
- Homemade Yogurt Melts: These are a favorite for many reasons. They keep well in the freezer; They’re a great first “finger food” as they help hone baby’s fine motor skills; and they’re easy to customize! Get my easy recipe, here.
Favorite Products for Baby-Led Weaning
While BLW is a pretty low-fi endeavor, there are a couple of amazing products out there that can make your experience easier.
While any soft-tip spoon will work, we happen to like these from Nuk. They’re easy for baby to hold and the perfect size for them to get the food in their mouth. When offering the soft foods listed above (avocado, banana, yogurt, etc.) I always offer her the spoon as well in order to let her feed herself.
Cloth bibs are nice and all (but are they?), but when your baby ends up covered in yogurt and/or banana at the end of every meal, you want a bib you can quickly rinse off, not one you need to treat for stains. Just trust me on this one.
With our first baby we used a highchair, like most people, we thought – you know, you have a baby, you get a highchair. Turns out, cleaning the highchair took longer than anything else. It appears as though highchairs are simply made of crevices for food to get stuck in. This time, I said, no more. And we got a simple booster seat (that grows from baby-to-toddler). It fits right on a kitchen chair and is super easy to clean. YES.
Around 6 months old, it’s okay for most babies to have a little bit of water at mealtime (typically your pediatrician will give you the go-ahead). This a great time for them to learn how to drink out of a “transition” cup. While I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time reading about the best kinds of sippy cups, so far, I’ve found this one to be my favorite first cup. It’s super easy for baby to hold themselves, and the unique shape of the handles makes it easy for baby to bring the cup to their mouth. After this cup, my favorite cup to transition to is the Munchkin 360 cup.
*The products listed above contain Amazon Affiliate links. I never recommend products that I don’t love and use myself. Product images are from Amazon.
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Disclaimer: I am not a pediatrician, nutritionist, or any kind of expert. I’m just a mom sharing her experiences. If you have concerns or specific questions, it’s always best to ask your baby’s pediatrician.