Baby Led Weaning First Foods
This list of baby led weaning first foods includes a variety of naturally nutritious treats that will be easy for your baby to handle.
If you’re just getting started with baby led weaning, or simply want to know more about it, then please do visit our Guide To Baby Led Weaning which explains more about this relatively new and exciting approach to introducing solids.
When you try new foods from this list, introduce each one separately, at least 4 days apart, as per the 4 day rule. This will help you spot any sign of digestive discomfort or allergic reaction and quickly identify the cause. And remember – you should always check with your doctor before introducing new foods to your baby.
Clicking on the links in this list will take you to pages that offer more information about each type of food. Please note that these pages may contain recipes for spoon-fed babies too!
|Baby Led Weaning First Foods – Fruits|
- Banana – this is best served in large chunks for baby to gnaw, as they will be easier for him to hold.
- Pear– this can be served raw (if soft, ripe and juicy) or lightly steamed if the texture doesn’t seem ‘gummable’.
- Avocado – we call it ‘nature’s perfect baby food’… and with good reason! An excellent source of healthy fats that requires no cooking, avocado is another food best served in larger chunks for baby to get his gums into!
- Apple – the texture is somewhat harder than pear, so raw apple is not ideal for toothless tots just getting started with solids. Steam or bake chunks of apple until tender before serving.
- Peaches/nectarines – these can be given to baby raw (if nice and soft) or lightly cooked.
- Plums – like peaches, these often have a ‘squishy’ texture when raw… but if they seem a little hard, then steam them lightly before serving.
- Melon – a very soft, juicy chunk of cantaloupe or watermelon is ideal for baby led weaning and provides lots of nutrients too!
Foods like banana and avocado can be notoriously difficult to pick up and become more slippery the more they are handled. A good solution is to roll the pieces in wheat germ or sugar-free crushed cereal – or cut them with a crinkle cutter, which makes ridges and gives your baby something to grip!
Once your baby has developed the pincer grip…
then you can move on to fruits like blueberries and cut grapes, which may be difficult for younger babies to pick up.
|Baby Led Weaning First Foods – Vegetables|
- Sweet potato – steam in chunks or bake whole in its skin – a highly nutritious food that little ones love!
- Butternut squash – another great source of beta-carotene, chunks of cooked butternut squash are wonderful for baby to gnaw on.
- Zucchini/courgettes – be careful to cook these just right! Chunks of zucchini need to be done just enough to be tender enough to gnaw on, but not to the extent that they are watery, squishy and hard to pick up!
- Carrots – steam chunks of mature, larger carrots which are richer in nutrients than ‘baby’ carrots
- Eggplant/aubergine – rich in antioxidants, pieces of cooked eggplant will really help expand your baby’s menu and develop those taste buds! Do try the eggplant before serving, however – it can sometimes be bitter and this can irritate the lining of your baby’s tummy.
- Green beans – these are a great shape for baby to grab in his fist… although getting the other end into his mouth may present a challenge at first! Cut longer beans in half.
- Pumpkin – not just for Halloween! Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene and cooked pumpkin chunks make a great (if messy) first food for baby led weaning.
- Swede/rutabaga – with its lovely, earthy flavour, cooked swede also has a texture that’s easy to gum!
- White potato – this might require a little extra flavouring as our little ones have always found plain white potato to be rather bland. Try tossing potato pieces with a little olive oil and crushed garlic before cooking, or sprinkling them with cheese once they’re done.
- Cooked beets (beetroot) – VERY messy but so nutritious! Check the texture of your cooked beets before serving – we find they are sometimes a bit too hard to gum efficiently, even when fully cooked.
- Red bell pepper – cut into chunks then roasted, red bell peppers are Yum with a capital ‘Y’! You can roast red bell peppers very quickly and easily – just click the link for more information.
- Broccoli – highly recommended as a food for baby led weaners, thanks to the built in ‘handle’ provided by the stem, steamed and tender broccoli florets are a great source of vitamins, minerals, calcium and fibre.
- Cauliflower – somewhat less popular than broccoli, cauliflower florets are good for your baby too, providing antioxidants, vitamins and folates.
- Asparagus spears – like green beans, asparagus spears are easily held in little fists. Don’t cook asparagus in iron pots – the tannins in the veggie react with the iron and turn the spears a funny colour!
- Cucumber – Cucumbers are not a particularly rich source of nutrients but can have a lovely, soothing effect on sore gums when baby is teething.
We find that tossing some vegetables in olive oil and then roasting them in the oven gives them a thin ‘skin’, which makes them less slippery and easier to pick up!
Peas and legumes like cooked beans…
are better when your baby has developed the pincer grip needed to pick up smaller pieces of food. Black beans are one of the most nutritious legumes to try. Our little ones loved chickpeas too!
|Baby Led Weaning First Foods – Other Ideas|
- Meat or chicken/turkey – these are best served in chunks for gnawing. Little cubes of cooked meat may not only be difficult to pick up before baby develops the pincer grip, they may also pose a choking hazard. A good alternative is to make meatballs.
- Scrambled egg – the advice about introducing whole eggs has changed recently, although some pediatricians still recommend offering the yolks only (which can be scrambled by themselves) until baby is 12 months of age. This is because egg whites can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
- Pieces of cheese – cheese can be served in chunks, or grated/shredded.
- Tofu chunks – a good source of protein, calcium and iron, tofu is easily cut into manageable pieces for baby.
- Brown rice – far more nutritious than white, brown rice is easy to eat with the fingers when slightly overcooked… you can then stick the grains together in ‘clumps’.
- Cooked pasta – use whole grain varieties wherever possible.
- Cooked fish – triple check for bones!
- Bread – very soft bread can stick to the roof of baby’s mouth, forming a dense clump that can pose a choking hazard – so beware! We’ve always found that lightly toasted bread is easier to handle. If you buy commercially made bread, stick with whole wheat varieties, but avoid brands with large, uncut seeds, as these may present a choking hazard to younger babies. Alternatively, try some homemade whole wheat bread, nan bread or chapati!
Baby Led Weaning First Foods – Make it Nicely Spicy!
You can ‘jazz up’ lots of foods on the lists above with the addition of yummy herbs and spices, so don’t be afraid to experiment. A sprinkle of cinnamon on a piece of apple, for example, or a little dash of turmeric on his veggies can really transform and enhance their flavours!
We have more information about offering herbs, spices, garlic etc here – whilst this page explains why you shouldn’t add salt to your baby’s food.