Inside: learn all about the best foods for baby-led weaning, when to introduce each food group, and check out tons of links to healthy and nutritious recipes for baby!
Before our first baby was born, my husband and I (being somewhat naive parents-to-be) wanted the same thing.
We wanted our baby to grow up to be an adventurous eater.
No doubts about it.
I experienced this realization years before I was pregnant when we went out to dinner with some of my husband’s old friends.
Their 3 year old was straight up eating steamed clams right out of the shell. I asked what their secret was and it was as simple as this: they had always fed their baby (pretty much) exactly what they were eating right from the very beginning.
At that very moment I thought to myself: YES, that will be our child.
Of course none of my kids have ever eaten anything quite that adventurous, but they have all become great eaters 🙂
So what does this have to do with Baby-Led Weaning?
The theory behind this method is that babies are naturally curious.
When they are ready for solids, if we put a couple of soft, mashed-up pieces of apple, banana or avocado on their highchair and just let them explore, we are speaking to their inner need to figure things out for themselves.
By letting baby take the lead at mealtime, you are allowing them to decide:
- what to eat
- how much to eat
In the last post we discussed which foods were best for getting started: simple, soft foods in fist-sized pieces.
Today I’m sharing the best foods for baby-led weaning to introduce each month. If you have concerns about choking, I suggest checking out this post on easy first food ideas.
Of course when you decide to introduce different foods is totally up to you. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I would do things differently the second time around.
When can I start baby-led weaning?
- In order for your baby to self-feed, they need to be at least 6 months old and able to sit up (on their own, unassisted) in a high chair or booster seat.
- Please remember, there is no rush. If your baby is still a little wobbly, it’s best to wait. If you have concerns about allergies, write down all of your questions and discuss with your pediatrician at your baby’s 6 month check-up.
- If you’re concerned about choking, take an infant CPR class or make sure your primary caregiver is certified.
So what exactly is baby-led weaning or “self-feeding?”
Baby led weaning is when a baby learns to eat by feeding themselves, rather than you feeding them.
I know. Reading that made me nervous, too. Mama, I get it. This method is not for everyone. Self-feeding (starting at 6 months) is not for every baby.
Some babies (and mamas!) simply do better with purees, and that’s okay.
I feel like this needs to be said more: You don’t have to do baby led weaning. There are of course pros and cons to all methods, and ultimately, you have to do what you feel most comfortable with!
These ideas will work even for babies who started out with purees.
Other babies, especially breastfed babies, may show little interest in food before 8 months. And remember that old saying “food under 1 is just for fun!” – While we now know that it’s just not just fun, foods under 1 can help prevent food allergies and help expose baby to various flavors, feeding your baby should be fun, not stressful.
If you want to try baby-led weaning, but you’re also feeling nervous about it, in this post I shared how I modified baby led weaning with my second child.
This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. I only recommend products that I love and use myself! You can read our full disclosure policy, here.
A good friend of mine recently started baby-led weaning with her 6 month old and was curious about my favorite products, which I recently shared in this post – but I also wanted to sneak in some favorites here as well.
- Self-feeders: Great if you want to try BLW but are afraid of giving your baby pieces of food. You can fill these feeders with small foods like blueberries or cherry tomatoes! Perfect for teething babies as well.
- Tyler Florence’s Baby Cookbook: While this book is not specifically meant for BLW, the recipes definitely work for a baby learning to self-feed (we used it that way!). We are obsessed OBSESSED with this book. I make the Ginger Chicken & Coconut Rice at least once a week. Just trust me (this book also makes a great baby shower gift!).
Below you’ll find some ideas and recipes for foods to introduce starting at 6 months and up to 11 months.
Disclaimer: These are just recommendations based on my own experience with my kids. Your baby may be ready for foods earlier, or later than recommended. Remember, there’s no rush! If you have specific questions, please consult your pediatrician.
Best Foods for Baby-Led Weaning
Best Foods: 6 Months
- Mashed Avocado & Banana
- Easy First Food Ideas
- 6 Month Old Meal Ideas & Feeding Schedule
- Puffs (I like Happy Baby Organic or Sprout Organic)
- Homemade Spinach & Banana Yogurt Melts
- 2 Ingredient Strawberry Yogurt Melts
- Easy Coconut Mango Yogurt Melts
- Steamed/Roasted Carrots, Butternut Squash, & Sweet Potato (in handheld “stick” shape)
- Earth’s Best Baby Oats mixed with Organic Whole Milk Yogurt (I would put this on a spoon and she would feed herself which took her a few tries to master – see yogurt massacre below)
- Black-eyed peas, Steamed Green Peas & Shelled Edamame (I would steam these 3 foods until soft and then smush them slightly with my finger)
- Avocado Toast (cut into sticks)
Best Foods: 7 & 8 Months
- 8 Month Old Meal Ideas + Feeding Schedule
- 4 Ingredient Broccoli Bites
- Mini Banana Oatmeal Cups
- Cheesy Kale Frittata Fingers
- Spinach & Banana Yogurt Bark
- Broccoli & Cheese Waffle Sticks
- Breakfast Meal Ideas
- Fusilli Pasta with Smashed Avocado
- Segmented Mandarin Oranges (such as Halos or Cuties)
- Halved or Quartered Cherry Tomatoes
- Berries (sliced blueberries or raspberries, chopped strawberries)
Best Foods: 9-11 Months
*Update* With our second little girl we introduced these foods closer to 7-8 months. This was mostly because I felt more comfortable introducing these foods and I wasn’t as worried about allergies the second time around
- 9 Month Old Meal Ideas
- Shellfish/Seafood: Steamed or Roasted Shrimp (chopped)
- Thick-Flaked Tuna (like in the first picture)
- Grilled or Baked Salmon (flaked with a fork)
- Chicken: Chopped or Shredded Chicken
- Peanut & Almond Butter: Lightly spread on Whole Grain Toast (we like Dave’s Killer Bread) or on Waffles or Pancakes
- Strawberries (chopped or sliced) – some people wait on feeding strawberries since they can be a common allergen
A note on introducing allergens:
It is now recommended that babies are introduced early and often to top allergens such as:
- tree nuts
The idea is to introduce them early (close to 6 months) and continue to offer these foods often to help avoid the development of allergies. It’s best to consult your pediatrician at your baby’s 6 month check up and go with their recommendation.
The good news is that many of these foods are easy to offer a baby, such as scrambled eggs, toast with thinly spread nut butter, chopped up shrimp or flaked fish.
There you have it! Best Foods for BLW and self-feeding starting at 6 months, and up to 11 months.
More Baby-Led Weaning Resources!
- How to Get Started with Baby-Led Weaning
- Easy First Food Ideas for Baby-Led Weaning
- Best Gluten-Free Recipes for Baby-Led Weaning
- All of Your Questions on BLW: Answered!
Are you following my Baby-Led Weaning Ideas Board on Pinterest?
Disclaimer: As I’ve mentioned before, I am just a mom, not a pediatrician or nutritionist, so if you have concerns, always discuss them with your pediatrician.