Favorite First Foods of Baby-Led Weaning

by Lara on June 25, 2013

BLW is supposed to pretty straightforward in terms of what to feed your kid (they eat what you eat), so I scoffed when I first heard of the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook (“That completely defeats the purpose!”).  After almost five months however, I have to admit that it can be advantageous to have some baby-friendly finger foods at the ready.  Some nights we’re just not eating something I deem healthy enough for G (I live for our monthly Chinese takeout), and other meals just don’t seem to lend themselves very well to baby fingers and mouths.  I found this post from Hellobee and got some good ideas, and the following is written in that same spirit….hopefully with some useful additions.

**A quick note on allergies:  After the first couple of weeks I pretty much threw out any rules with regards to offering new foods on a schedule.  The exceptions, obviously, are nuts and honey.  Allergies don’t run in our family, so I offered foods like eggs and strawberries more or less from the start.  We have had no problems, but of course, consult with your pediatrician before you start listening to some random lady on the internet!

Favorite First Foods of Baby-Led Weaning

Breakfast Favorites 

  • Pancakes.  I have made various versions of the Fitnessista’s berry chia pancakes,  topped with a pure nut butter, coconut oil, or butter.  These freeze very well and you can pull them out individually to reheat in the toaster or microwave.  In the early days I served them cut in half.  Now I cut them into tiny bites.
  • Wholegrain toast.  Lightly toasted and topped with mashed avocado, hummus, melted cheese, butter, pure nut butter, mashed banana or other fruit puree, and cut into strips or small bites.  (I read somewhere not to give 100% whole grains but I can’t bring myself to buy white bread so he gets Dave’s Killer 21 Whole Grain and poops like a champ.)
  • Scrambled eggs.  Plain or topped with cheese.  It was suggested to me to try hard boiled egg yolks first, but they were so crumbly that G could hardly pick them up.
  • Oatmeal.  Cooked to be very thick in texture.  Add ground flaxseed, wheat germ and/or fruit.
  • Cottage cheese.  Dressed up with the same things I would put in oatmeal.
  • Smoothies.  I make mine with almond milk so that’s what G gets, blended with a bunch of frozen fruit, baby spinach, ground flaxseed and wheat germ.  He likes to drink it from his Zoli cup.
  • Cheerios.  I try not to rely on these but they’re pretty great for buying me a little time in the kitchen.
  • Fruit.  See below.

Fruit Favorites

  • Berries.  Far and away, G’s favorite fruits.  Cut blueberries and raspberries in half and strawberries into quarters.
  • Banana.  His first food and still a favorite.  I like the way Mrs. Stroller made a “handle” for the banana in this post, but G mainly likes it cut into cubes now.
  • Cherries.  Pitted and cut into quarters.  I had to offer these two or three times before he took to them.
  • Peaches, plums, pears, and nectarines.  Must be very ripe, peeled, and cut into chunks.
  • Mango and papaya.  The only place I could find these ripe enough was in Hawaii.
  • Kiwi.  Again must be very ripe.  Big hit.
  • Grapes.  Cut lengthwise and quartered.
  • Watermelon.  A messy love affair.

Veggie Favorites

  • Sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, fennel, zucchini, and mushrooms.  Roasted with olive oil and black pepper and cut into spears or cubes.  Most of these can also be grated raw and cooked into pancakes, sauces, and ground meats.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower.  I have no doubt this will be short-lived, but steamed broccoli was a fast favorite (I think because he could hold it easily by the stem).  Frozen varieties have been rejected.  It must be fresh.
  • Avocado.  I refuse to categorize this as a fruit.  Serve this overly ripe and you have quite a mess, but if you can get that perfect state of ripeness, avocado is such a great finger food.
  • Green beans.  This was a recent discovery.  Frozen green beans microwaved with a little butter and cut into pieces went down like CANDY.
  • Brussel sprouts.  Roasted or boiled until soft, then shredded.
  • Peas.  Frozen mostly.  It took some practice but ever since G has been able to pick them up and get them in his mouth, these have gone down well.
  • Corn.  Frozen or cut from the cob.  Expect to see those kernels come out in the diaper for a while.
  • Onions and garlic.  Mostly hidden in with other foods, but I occasionally offer them roasted and cut into pieces.

Zucchini parmesan quinoa bites

All Other Favorites

  • Bites and Bars.  There are some great recipes out there that I’ve tried for incorporating more veggies and whole grains into an easy-to-eat form.  Favorites so far are:  zucchini and parmesan quinoa bites (Little Grazers has some great ideas for this kind of stuff), feta, red pepper, and spinach quinoa balls, and carrot, zucchini, and parsnip frittata fingers.
  • Hummus.  Sabra or occasionally homemade.  Serve on toast, as a dip to steamed veggies, or in a pile by itself.
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese.  Cut into little squares.  Big hit.
  • Cheese.  Any other cheese I have on hand, grated, crumbled, or melted onto something else.
  • Pasta.  I don’t think this is at all unusual for kids, but G goes gaga for pasta.  I usually buy Barilla Plus and he will eat it in any form that we do (spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna bites, homemade macaroni and cheese).  In the freezer, however, I keep tiny portions of it cooked with tomato sauce and ricotta cheese.
  • Olives.  Pitted, if necessary, and cut lengthwise into quarters.
  • Meat.  It scares me a little how much my 10.5-month old loves meat.  Beef, turkey, chicken, pork…ground or shredded is how I am most comfortable serving it.
  • Salmon.  I haven’t tried other fish yet.  Salmon is so easy because it flakes off so nicely.  Plus, I figure it is best to start him on the most flavorful and nutritionally dense fish anyway.
  • Shrimp.  Oops, I lied.  I guess shrimp is a fish.  Cut into teeny tiny pieces!
  • Beans and lentils.  I’m lazy and have mainly done canned beans (all varieties) rinsed very well.  I did do one huge batch of homemade lentils and froze it in small quantities.  They are messy for self feeding but it can be done.

It’s worth noting that some of these foods had to be offered a few times before he took to them!

…and lastly:

Baby-Led Weaning Meals

  • Pouches.  I hate to admit it but we’ve done some pouches (ten, maybe?)  here and there because they are so freaking convenient.  G can hold them and feed himself, but I still need to try a little harder to remember to throw a banana in my diaper bag instead of continuing to purchase these.  It doesn’t help that he instantly fell in love with them, so when a friend has one he starts reaching/smiling/whining for it like a starving orphan child.  I never thought I’d buy anything that resembles commercially-manufactured baby food, but I can now add this to my steadily growing list of ways I have been humbled as a parent.

Foods That Haven’t Worked as Well:

  • Raw veggies.  I do offer them, but not with the expectation that they will really be eaten in a quantity that would qualify as a source of nourishment.  I’ve heard of other babies eating cucumber, bell peppers, and lettuce, but that hasn’t worked out well for us yet.
  • Apple.  I have only ever offered it grated because I have heard chunks lend themselves to choking.  It gets all watery when grated and G isn’t into it.
  • Rice.  I haven’t pushed this too hard after hearing some buzz about arsenic, but we do eat rice a lot so I have offered it.  It seems to slip right out of his hands and he will quickly turn to something else.
  • Asparagus.  I think it’s the stringy texture.

Foods We Haven’t Tried Yet:

  • Tofu.  I am definitely not an anti-soy person, but something about putting it into his little body does make me a hesitate a little.  However, Grandma is a big fan and I’m sure she will feed it to him when we next visit.
  • Yogurt.  Hard to self-feed, but we will probably give it a go this summer.

Though I anticipated keeping G on two solid meals a day until he was 12 months old, at the ten-month mark he made it clear he wanted breakfast, so he is officially on three now.  Some meals I swear he eats as much as I do (which is REALLY saying something), and others he just throws food around and we rely on breastfeeding to fill in the nutrition and calorie gaps.  I absolutely refuse to pass on any eating complexes to this child if I can avoid it, so I work hard to let him self regulate and be OK with whatever he eats.

So that’s our list of beginner’s favorites!  We’re not hugely exotic eaters so G probably won’t be, either.  I just don’t want him to be a chicken-nuggets-and-grilled-cheese-only kind of  kid.  And I want him to have a healthy sense of self-regulation.  Both of those things are really important to me, so I hope we are on the right track.  Time will tell.

What are some of your baby/toddler’s favorite foods?

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacy K June 25, 2013 at 10:06 am

This is a great list Lara! G is quite the little eater!!

We are still on purees, I have to admit in the mornings when I’m rushing out the door it’s much easier, but I’m trying to offer more solid foods to Graham. Do you remember what age G was better with his pincer grip and actually getting the food into his mouth? Also, how do you get over the initial choking/gagging it makes me nervous every time.


Lara June 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I wrote about the whole journey here: http://accordingtolara.com/2013/05/breastfeeding-and-baby-led-weaning-at-nine-months/

I think it was around 8 months that he actually started getting anything significant in his tummy, and by 9 months it had totally clicked. With the gagging I just had to read a lot, watch YouTube videos, and let him work it out. They say it’s much more likely to cause gagging when someone puts something in your mouth than when you put it there yourself, which makes sense. They learn really quick. We had a few scary incidences but we only had to intervene once and a slap on the back was all it took.


Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily June 25, 2013 at 10:59 am

I wish I was just starting to have kids instead of done with babies. Unfortunately, my kids were chicken nugget/grilled cheese kids and now they are 10,8 and 5 and it’s HARD to break them off years of convenience, but knock on wood, things are changing. My 8 year old asked for a salad today for lunch.


Lara June 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Wow, that’s impressive! I’m kind of wondering if the chicken nugget thing is a stage all kids go through regardless of what they’re fed. I have no idea if this will actually work to get him to like healthy foods. But I figure it’s worth a try 😉


Jessie June 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Sounds like a great eater you have there!! Yay! I’ve always thought it felt weird going from serving a baby large pieces of bread/pancakes/etc to small pieces of the same food. It felt like taking a step backward for whatever reason.

Lyric still won’t eat raw veggies. Even with 12 teeth, it’s like she can’t understand that you have to chew it up to swallow it. Oh and start giving G a bowl of yogurt/soup/oatmeal/etc with a spoon in it. Just let him figure it out. It won’t take long!


Lara June 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I was just discussing the chunks vs small pieces thing with my friend. Really though, you and I eat pancakes in small pieces, right? So in that respect it is moving forward!

Good to know about the raw veggies. I don’t see that happening for a long time.

Oh man, I think you are probably right about giving him a spoon and bowl, but we are JUST getting to the place where meals aren’t totally messy. I am not sure if I am ready for more mess yet! But I know we should probably start soon :/


emma June 25, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I found your blog tonight and I am so happy I did! My little girl is almost 9 months old and we’re doing baby-led weaning. She started at 8 months but she’s not really that into food yet, she plays and squashes the steamed veggies I give her. 🙂
I love your list, I have been afraid to do some things because I am so worried she will choke but I always like knowing what works for others.
I look forward to reading more of the blog!


Lara June 25, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Thanks Emma! Your little CBJ is so cute!


Andrea@WellnessNotes June 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I love the list of foods G eats! And awesome that he gets to decide when and how much he wants to eat! That was a huge issue for me when I couldn’t be around to feed him…

The kid has been a big fan of rice since he was very little. And he’s always loved tofu, but I try not to have him eat it too often. He also loves raw broccoli (but hates it steamed/cooked) and avocado (one of his first foods). One of his favorite foods right now is seasoned rice wrapped in seaweed with kimchi (the really spicy kind). He actually asks for it in his lunch box and gets mad when I don’t add the smelly kimchi… 🙂


Lara June 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm

That is so cool! What an adventurous eater!


Heather @ fit mama real food June 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

G sounds like such a great eater! You are doing an amazing job offering him so many different foods. He definitely loves more veggies than Hunter does! Maybe soon he’ll start practicing with a spoon and eat yogurt that way?? Hunters favorite breakfast food is definitely the whole wheat dry pancake mix for yogurt pancakes I shared recently. A great way to get yogurt in! And blueberries. He goes crazy for them! Tofu has actually been a super simple finger food for us. It’s already soft and Hunter doesn’t seem to mind it plain or seasoned if I make it for myself. And I think that’s odd that some people would want to give their baby white bread instead of whole wheat. That’s what Hunter gets and it’s so much better for him than white!


Lara June 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I am so impressed with Hunter’s utensil skills, Heather! I know I should start practicing with G but I fear the mess…we are only JUST getting to a place where mealtimes aren’t a total disaster in terms of messiness.

I’ll have to check out your pancake recipe! And I agree…who buys white bread anymore?!


Leah June 27, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Love this post Lara!! Thanks for writing it in so much detail. Ella is doing well these days. We did purees for the first month with little finger foods. Then we went away on holiday to Cyprus and I got out of my puree comfort zone and it literally pushed me into trying even more finger foods for her. We haven’t looked back since! I do hope she will get better at bringing the food to her mouth….I will go read the post you linked to about starting blw here in the comments section. I know she will get better soon. She picks the food up like a pro and I try to guide her but hope she will do it herself more soon. She’s only 7.5 months so we will get there!! G is doing so great. You should be very proud!!


Lara June 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Thanks Leah 🙂 G really didn’t get the hang of it for real until 8 months. I bet one meal she will just take off with it and shock you!

Love your photos on IG. Two beautiful girls!


Leah June 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Btw Sophie loves chicken nuggets…but she eats SO many other foods so I try not to get too worried about the nugget thing..for a 3 year old she does pretty great. Choose your battles I guess, right? 🙂


Lara June 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Oh for sure. I didn’t mean to be bratty about that…I’m sure he will adore chicken nuggets, too…what kid doesn’t? But it would also be nice if he’d eat what he was served at Grandma’s, at a BBQ, etc…I don’t need him to like curries or anything but salmon and potatoes would be nice!


KatyBug June 27, 2013 at 3:53 pm

These are great tips! We’re doing a BLW … puree … hybrid. I would love to have done 100% BLW, but daycare just wasn’t on board (they were respectful and have bent a little bit in the last few months) so at school, A gets applesauce, yogurt and a few pouches for spoon-feeding. I also do send her with rice cereal a couple of times a week, made with breastmilk — we don’t eat meat, so I’m cautious about making sure she gets enough iron.

At home, she is mostly BLW. We do a lot of soft fruits like mango, avocado (sorry, friend, it’s a fruit) and banana, as well as veggies, pasta, etc., all of which she feeds herself. I’m not doing a great job of giving her complete meals — I tend to fall into the trap of giving her separate items like a fruit, a grain and a veggie on her tray and she kind of mashes them together on her own — but I’m trying to get better.

The system works for us. I feel like the foods that she’s getting in puree/soft form are foods that are designed to be that way anyway (cereal, applesauce, yogurt) and she’s getting experience feeding herself with the other items.

It’s never easy, is it? 🙂 But it is fun…


Lara June 27, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I like the idea of using naturally soft foods as the puree part of your hybrid. Part of my hesitation with purees has been that carrots don’t REALLY look and feel like that (when pureed), but it makes total sense to feed things like applesauce and yogurt by a spoon.

Yeah I haven’t been too worried about serving complete meals yet…I figure breastmilk fills in the gaps. When he stops nursing so much (or completely), I will definitely be more mindful of his total intake.


Liorah June 28, 2013 at 3:37 am

Just starting our second time with BLW with our 6 month old – I’d forgotten how messy the early months are, our 2 1/4 year old is such a neat eater now! We’ve certainly had our share of picky toddler behaviour from her, but on the whole we get so many comments about what an adventurous eater she is.
So far Newbie’s absolute favorite is plain greek yoghurt that I load onto a soft spoon and hand to him. I also use things like cooked apple slices with cinnamon to dip in yoghurt too. Mind you, his first food was bacon that he grabbed off my plate – can’t argue with instinct!
We’re still definitely in the exploring rather than eating stage, but its also disgustingly fascinating to look at his nappies and check what bits and pieces have gone in!


Lara June 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm

That is so cute that his first food was bacon…love it!


Holly June 30, 2013 at 8:52 am

We couldn’t fully do BLW due to daycare regulations, but my now 22 month old ate a huge variety of foods at home in the early days. Alas, he has entered the picky phase and is extremely limited in his food choices. I just keep offering and occasionally he will eat something that he hasn’t in awhile. He absolutely refuses to eat grains. No pasta, breads, quinoa, etc. The only non-fruit/veggie carb he eats is goldfish crackers.

What I found helpful when we were out and about was having re-usable pouches that I could fill with my own blends. Mostly smoothies.


Lara June 30, 2013 at 9:24 am

A little low-carb eater! How do you like the reusable pouches? Are they tricky to clean?


Holly June 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I’ve tried 2 different brands – the BooginHead Squeeze-ems work great for us. They don’t have a wonderful review on amazon, but they are easy to fill and easy to clean. (Just have to really make sure the top is on tight! The cap is attached, but its never been an issue for my son.) I’ve also tried Go Fresh Baby pouches and they were a mess — difficult to fill and hard to get clean.


Kerry February 12, 2014 at 12:04 am

This is exactly what I have been looking for! Thank you so much! JQD is almost 9 months old and has been eating purees and such. My doctor suggested that I start giving him finger foods when he turned 7 months old. He didn’t want to have anything to do with them because he couldn’t pick them up. (I cut them way too small). Anyway, for the last couple of weeks he has been reaching for our food off our plates and I happily have been giving him certain foods. Then suddenly he stopped taking baby food and only has been wanting more real finger foods. I was at a loss as to what to give him. Then one day it occurred to me to give him bigger pieces. I watched him closely. Take a huge bite of banana and spit it out only to see him push it back in again. The gagging gets me but he just laughs. Then the other night my Mum made a turkey meatloaf which he adores! I know I’m jumping all over the place, but reading your blog, it just makes such sense and gives me such good ideas. Thank you so much!!! Can’t wait until tomorrow morning to try some of your ideas.


Lara February 12, 2014 at 8:34 am

So glad it was helpful! Good luck!


Klair November 2, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Hi! Just curious how you feed the oatmeal. Would love to start doing Oatmeal in the mornings as it is super easy and I usually eat Cereal for myself…..does he pick it up by hand or do you spoon feed?


Lara November 2, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Hi! I like my oatmeal on the drier side, so I would be able to roll it up in balls and he would pick it up (and make a total mess)! 🙂


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