5 Easy First Foods – Baby Led Weaning

I’ve been meaning to write about this for so long.  The time has finally come!

When I first started researching baby led weaning (BLW), what I most wanted to know was HOW.  As in, the details.  As in exactly what foods to start with, what shape / size to cut them in, and how / how long to cut them.

While I loved the idea of BLW, I was also a little fearful of choking.  I read plenty about how the baby’s gag reflex is further up on their tongue to prevent choking, but I was still a little scared.

I am by no means an expert (please talk to your doctor if you have any questions / concerns about how to feed your baby), but I wanted to share what foods worked well for James when he was first beginning, and the best ways we found to prepare them.

1. Avocado

We chose avocado for James’s first food because a ripe avocado is so squishy that I didn’t worry about choking.  I of course also love that it is a super healthy food full of good for you fats.  I also liked that I didn’t have to worry about cooking it to the right consistency.  Easy all around!  Reflecting back, I think avocado is a fine first food, but maybe a little bit difficult for baby to grasp due to how slippery it is.  You can coat the slices in ground flax or something similar, but I didn’t want to introduce two foods at the same time at first, so we didn’t do this for a while.

James found a solution by bending over and slurping the avocado off of his place mat like a catfish…so it all worked out in the end.  Next time though, I would probably start with something else like….

2. Roasted Sweet Potato

This was James’s favorite food for a long time and I think it was in part because of the taste and in part because it was so easy for him to eat.  The first time I made sweet potato for him, I cut it in thin strips and roasted it.  This didn’t work well for him, probably because I cut the strips too thin (again, fear of choking).

I then started cutting them in rounds with a crinkle cutter and true love was born!  I coat them in lots of coconut oil or avocado oil (using lots of oil makes them softer…and delicious) and roast at 400 degrees for thirty minutes.  Sometimes I sprinkle with turmeric or cinnamon.  I leave the peel on and James has learned to spit it out, but I would probably remove the peel if I offered it as a first food.  I think roasted sweet potatoes would make a great first food!

3. Steamed Broccoli

This is a messy one, but James has always loved it and still does today.  It is super easy for baby to hold the stem of the broccoli and gum the florets off.  I tried roasting because I think it tastes better, but at least for James, it was much easier to eat when steamed because it gets softer.  I got a steamer basket and I steam it for about ten minutes, until a form goes easily into the stem part.  I like to drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic.  I buy frozen broccoli (and also frozen green beans) so that I always have it on hand and it takes very little time to prepare.

4. Banana

A ripe banana is super easy for baby to eat.  I read that you could just give baby half a banana, removing a ring of peel around the top, so that it’s still easy for them to hold (as in the above photo).  I tried this, but James was taking huge bites and it made me nervous.  I now separate the banana half into three sections using my fingers – this is easy if it’s ripe.  At first, I would cut these three sections in half length-wise to prevent choking, though this may be totally unnecessary depending on how ripe the banana is.

5. Melon

We didn’t plan it, but one of James’s first foods was seedless watermelon.  We were out at an event and they had some beautiful looking watermelon and I realized how easy it would be for him to eat.  He loved it and I actually think that’s where he really made the connection that food is to eat and tastes delicious because he was much more into eating, rather than just playing with his food, after that day.  He ate pretty much the whole slice…and was covered in sticky juice.

He still loves melon of all kinds and I think it’s a particularly great food to offer during teething.  It can take James a long time to eat a big piece of melon, and if it’s cold from the fridge, it seems to be a good way to help ease the discomfort on his gums.

These are of course just a few foods you could begin with, as many doctors are now saying it is safe to give baby most foods from the beginning, if they are starting solids 6 months or later.  I think the biggest thing I learned was to experiment with the shapes / cooking method to find something that works for your individual baby.

We didn’t offer it until recently because I just didn’t think of it, but I also think beets would be a great first food (golden beets if you don’t want the mess).  They sell pre-steamed beets with no other ingredients at Trader Joe’s that I’ve started buying for James and he loves them!  Other early foods we had success with included thin strips of pears (microwaved a bit if not soft enough) and egg yolk (fried and cut into strips, or scrambled once baby can grasp smaller pieces).

If you eat meat, salmon and meatballs have been the easiest forms of meat we’ve found for James (I used the meatball recipe in the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook).

Now James can eat pretty much anything, but I have very fond memories of his first adventures in eating.

I should also mention, we wound up doing a hybrid of BLW and offering foods with a spoon, which I’ll likely write more about soon.

If you have kids, did you try baby led weaning, spoon feeding, or a mix?  What was baby’s first food?

What is your earliest food memory?

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  1. He is such a good eater!!! I wish I let L explore foods more when he was younger. He is such a stubborn eater now but maybe it’s a toddler thing?

    1. Thank you! I think it could definitely be a toddler thing, I try to remind myself to enjoy it now while he’ll eat anything because I’ve definitely heard that that can change when they hit the toddler years and realize they can exert some control. Fingers crossed!

  2. So cute! We did a mixture and BLW and purees. I really wanted our son to have meats early on so we pureed them. Avocado and liver were two of Mason’s first foods and he loved it!

    1. We’re doing a mix too, mostly because I want him to be able to use a spoon and eat things like oatmeal and yogurt. He seems to like having a mix of finger foods / spoon foods in a meal. We haven’t tried liver, that’s a good idea!

  3. Great post! I find BLW to be an interesting idea, but my son def wasn’t ready for finger foods at 6 months. I made very chunky homemade purees and added in finger foods as he was ready. Like the previous comment, I also fed meat early, mashing up sweet potato, carrots, and ground lamb or pork. I actually still make veggie purees – beets, carrots, and peas – which I add a scoop of applesauce to. My son loves them and they make a good side for lunch instead of using plain applesauce. He is so weird about his veggies…sometimes he will eat a ton of cauliflower, broccoli, or green beans for dinner, other times its a no go. Toddler logic I suppose 🙂 This way if I boost up his lunchtime applesauce at least I know he got some veggies. Watermelon is a big hit at my house too 🙂

    1. That totally makes sense. One reason I do make some purees is because I want to introduce him to foods that he can’t really chew yet, like greens. I like doing a mix! Thanks for reading!

    1. Thank you! I was SO excited to introduce solids too, like you said, I think because I really like to cook and eat lol. It is super messy, but really has been so much fun!

  4. That’s interesting. I haven’t heard of BLW but it makes sense. I’d be a little fearful of the choking hazard, too, and probably start with pureed foods and go on to BLW. James is such an adventurous eater! I don’t think I tried avocado until I was in my teens.

    1. It’s interesting, everything I read sais that it is actually less of a choking hazard to start finger foods younger because their gag reflex is further up on their tongue when they’re younger to prevent choking, so getting used to solids at this point is supposedly safer, which they still have the built-in safeguard – I was still scared though! He only gagged a few times fortunately and it wasn’t as bad as I thought, thank goodness!

  5. Love this post!! Cole was just asking if I planned to prepare all of the next baby’s food like I did for Liam. It is a non negotiable but I like this approach because Liam can eat the veggies too. I honestly found that he is still adventurous and will try anything. I’m hoping it lasts! 🤞

    1. That is awesome that he will still try anything! I know it can be a lot harder with toddlers. Hopefully the little one will just want to copy big brother when the time comes 🙂

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