When to start baby-led weaning
Whichever style of weaning you go for, starting is recommended when your baby is around 6 months of age. If your baby was born pre-term (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), or has any medical condition which might affect their ability to handle food safely or to digest a range of foods, you should ask a healthcare professional for advice on when to offer solids, and whether baby-led weaning can be used as the only method of feeding.
First foods for little fingers
Baby-led weaning involves offering your little one finger foods, like softly cooked carrot sticks, broccoli spears, or fresh apple and cucumber. At this stage, your baby will only be able to wrap their fingers around objects to hold them, so foods should be easy to grasp – the shape of a chip is ideal.
If your baby can’t manage something, try not to worry too much, as their natural gag reflex will normally help them cough it up or spit it out. Remember, you should never leave your baby alone when they are eating.
You could also mix finger foods with soft purées but instead of spoon-feeding your baby, simply place a spoon of purée on their tray and let your baby go for it! This will help your little one learn how to use cutlery all by themselves.
Let your baby take the lead
With baby-led weaning, you can put foods straight on to the high chair tray and let your baby play and mush things up!
Some food may find its way to their mouth but don’t expect too much eating at the start. Once they do get a taste for something, they’ll munch away and stop when they’ve had enough.
Always trust your little one to know when they’re full – they may squirm, lose interest in eating, start to spit food out, or even hold food in their mouth. The important thing is to let them do it in their own time and not force your baby to eat more than they want to.
Keep up the milk feedsSquishing and tasting different foods is lots of fun but milk is still an important part of weaning and will continue to provide most of the nutrients your baby needs. So make sure you carry on with their milk feeds. If you are bottlefeeding, Follow-on Milk is specifically made to support weaning.
If you have any questions about baby-led weaning, or feeding your baby in general, our team of experts includes feeding advisors who are ready to help.