When you’re about to start baby-led weaning it can seem like there’s a whole world of new information and ideas to explore – how do you decide which road to take?
After working in this field for a few years now, I thought I’d offer you the ten first foods that I’d recommend, from our experience, and how we introduced these with our little ones. You’ll notice that these are all vegetables, this is because research shows that offering a variety of veg for the first stage of weaning can help prevent little ones developing a sweet-preference too early and can lead to less fussiness towards vegetables later on.
- 1. Roasted sweet potato fries
These are so easy to make yourself and are a lovely and soft first food for little ones. They can hold them tightly in their fist and gnaw on the excess to try the delicious and bright orange flesh inside. Our Health Visitor recommended these as a nice first food to try as breastmilk is a little sweet, so the taste would be a good transition taste.
- 2. Roasted aubergine sticks
What an interesting colour contrast to the sweet potato your little one has just explored! By leaving the skin on, your little one should have something easy to grip so they can use their gums or first teeth to get to the flesh.
- 3. Steamed carrot sticks
Carrot is another deliciously orange and slightly sweet vegetable but has a firmer texture than sweet potato.
Top Tips For Starting Baby Led Weaning
Use your index finger as a guide
Some people cut vegetable fries and wedges too small and the vegetable disappears into their little one’s fist and they can’t taste it. Make them longer so they emerge from the fist and also thick enough that gripping it won’t turn it instantly to pure mush!
- 4. Roasted potato wedges
By cutting your potato into wedges before cooking, you can offer your little one a new shape to explore which will still fit easily into their fist!
- 5. Steamed broccoli florets
A vegetable that may have a slightly more bitter flavour than some other vegetables, but which is such an interesting texture to explore! We chose to introduce this fairly early on so that we could get our little ones used to green vegetables right from their first few tastes! I’ll never forget the look of pure fascination and intense scrutiny as they explored these little ‘trees’!
- 6. Steamed/fried courgette sticks
The water content of courgettes make these a really interesting vegetable to explore; they’re so different from the firmer vegetables explored previously!
- 7. Crinkle-cut and roasted parsnip fries
Again, by cutting crinkles or small triangles out of one or two sides of your parsnip fries, you provide an easy texture to grip and explore. This vegetable has a really interesting taste, so although looking similar to the potato, it will introduce a whole new taste sensation!
Top Tips For Starting Baby Led Weaning
Taste-test for temperature
Of course, test your little one’s food for temperature, but for certain things, like whole sprouts, you can’t without ruining the shape. What I used to do was to cook a couple of extra so I could test those! Better safe than sorry if you’re not sure – your little one won’t be used to warm food, so if it’s a bit cold, they’ll be none the wiser!
- 8. Boiled sprouts
Sprouts can be a controversial vegetable, but I soon converted my husband after slicing them thinly and cooking with cream and pancetta when I wanted to introduce them to my little one so that the rest of the bag wasn’t wasted! I boiled the biggest ones I could find for our child and let her grip these and play – the circular shape makes them really fun and a bit trickier to get to, so your little one has to work a bit harder.
- 9. Cooked spiralised squash
The spiralisers you can get (or ready-made packs!) make a really interesting texture for little ones to explore, whilst still getting veggie goodness into their diets now and when they grow up! A pile of these intriguing spirals is perfect for fingers to dig into and grab fistfuls of, ready for tasting!
- 10. Boiled circles of corn on the cob
If you have a sharp knife to carefully cut a corn cob into circles, these are great as little hands can hold the discs and get the cooked sweetcorn from the edges. It’s important to make sure these are fully cooked so that they sweetcorn is super soft once it’s in their mouths.
Remember that at this stage babies will still be getting their nutrition from milk. It is perfectly normal for baby-led weaning to be a bit slower, as little ones lead the way to relax and enjoy the experience with your child!
Wherever you and your little one are on your weaning journey, I wish you all the very best and I hope that you both exploring the world of flavours available!