It’s absolutely normal to feel a little anxious when first starting out with baby-led weaning. That’s why Annabel Karmel has rounded up a simple guide to the best first foods – and those ingredients to avoid.
Remember, don’t worry about how much or how little your baby eats at the beginning; the best thing you can do is serve a variety of tastes and textures to get their journey to fuss-free eating off to a flying start.
What are the best starter foods for baby-led weaning?
As a general rule of thumb, first foods should be of a size that your baby can manage. Babies around six months tend to use their whole hand to pick things up. They need to be able to close their hand around the food, so avoid making the pieces too wide. Fairly long pieces stand a better chance of being picked up. I would suggest cutting food into 5–6cm batons or sticks so that half is held in a baby’s hand and the other half sticks out.
First foods should be cooked until soft, but not too mushy so that they can grab it with their fist. It’s best to wait until your baby has teeth before you offer harder foods like raw carrot.
• Batons of banana, avocado, pear, mango and apple
• Steamed broccoli (they can hold the stem)
• Steamed carrot, cut into batons
• Steamed baby sweetcorn
• Thick strips of roasted sweet potato or butternut squash
• Fingers of bread, toast or pitta
• Soft pasteurised cheeses cut into chunks
• Cooked eggs, cut in half
• Unsalted rice cakes
Is it easy to introduce family foods into baby-led weaning?
You may also want to offer your baby the same meals eaten by the rest of the family. This is fine, providing you keep a close eye on potential allergens and limit the addition of salt and sugar, especially if using ready-made ingredients such pasta sauces.
• Pieces of cooked fish (be careful to remove any bones)
• Pieces of roast chicken (the dark parts are the most nutritious)
• Cottage pie
• Spaghetti Bolognese
• Pasta dishes (wholegrain pasta is best)
• Omelette cut into strips
Annabel’s new Baby-Led Weaning Recipe Book equips families with the option to do what they feel is best. This book can be used on its own for exclusive baby-led weaning. Or it can be used as a companion cookbook to Annabel’s original feeding guide, the New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner, which is filled with her popular puree recipes.
As well as being packed with useful advice and top tips, the book is filled with 120 recipes which the whole family can enjoy together – from breakfast and snacks, to vegetables, poultry, fish, meat and more.