If you’ve read our first article about Baby Led Weaning, now you know all the basic facts of the practice. But, wait a minute, what foods can you actually feed your baby?
Great first finger foods
Baby Led Weaning foods should include a selection of fresh fruits, soft cooked vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, and fats. Additionally, you have to keep in mind that food has to be soft and easy to gum and swallow. Examples of baby led weaning foods are avocados, bananas, (sweet) potatoes, soft cooked apples, carrots, green beans, beets, zucchini, pumpkin, ripe peaches, pears, plums, egg yolk, meat, slices of bread, and cooked pasta.
Foods to avoid
Most importantly, you need to know what foods to avoid. Firstly, high choking foods are a no-no. These include rounded and hard foods such as grapes, cherry tomatoes, and nuts. It would also be a good idea to hold off allergic foods such as gluten, nuts, and seafood. As your baby’s body is not ready to process salt and sugar, prepare their food without seasoning. It follows that you should avoid unhealthy and processed food like popcorn and sugar-coated foods. Last but not least, avoid the sweet stuff like honey and chocolate.
Good substitutes for iron-fortified baby cereal
Iron is extremely important for your baby’s development. Make sure your baby is getting iron from either breastmilk or from iron rich baby led weaning foods. These include meat especially beef, winter squash, sweet potatoes, greens, and egg yolks.
Cut finger foods to appropriate size
Simple enough but can be done wrong. Sometimes parents will be tempted to cut Baby Led Weaning foods into very small pieces to prevent choking. Unfortunately, babies do not have the motor skills to pick up extremely small pieces until they are 9 months or older. Hence, it is important to make your baby’s food large enough for them to pick up, and soft enough so they do not choke. For example, half of a skinless boneless chicken thigh or a potato wedge is good enough. Or, slice round items into halves or quarters. All in all, long and thin is a good ballpark.
One of the most common food that babies choke on are whole apples. Better to peel, slice thinly, and steam them for beginners. When your baby grows older, you can use a grater to grate hard foods. If you are still worried about choking, you can take an infant CPR class so you are confident in dealing with choking if it happens. Now, that usually isn’t the case if you stay vigilant by watching your baby while she eats. Know the difference between gagging and choking; choking does not have a sound. Furthermore, you should never force feed your baby by placing a piece of food into their mouths.
When you start Baby Led Weaning, you might find that your baby is more keen on playing with her food in the first couple of weeks. This is normal. Your baby will eat more when she becomes confident with grabbing.
Aim for portions the size of her fist, with one fistful of carbohydrates, one fistful of protein, and two fistfuls of vegetables and fruits. Place these options on her highchair and let her explore.
Keep in mind that most babies play with food up until 8 or 9 months, which is the time they develop their thumb and forefinger grip.