What is Baby Led Weaning?

You may have read or heard about “Baby Led Weaning,” which focuses on preparing the same meal for the whole family (with modifications for baby), and letting the baby decide what and how to eat. With this method, you are letting the baby feed him or herself with their hands or a utensil. There are several benefits to this method, such as:

  • It encourages the baby to try diverse tastes and textures at an early age

  • It is less expensive (as the whole family is eating the same foods)

  • The baby gets to participate in family meals 

Before introducing Baby-Led Weaning, it is important to research this method and understand how to safely offer food so you feel comfortable and know what to expect. With Baby Led Weaning, you may experience your baby gagging more frequently, especially at the beginning. Many parents find this quite frightening, although it is a very natural and normal response to babies learning to eat.

If you are looking to get started with Baby Led Weaning, a great place to start is with soft, thin, stick-shaped foods. It is important to avoid choking hazards and encourage your baby to practice chewing. Here are few examples:

  • Naturally soft or steamed vegetables, such as steamed green beans or thin strips of cooked sweet potato

  • Soft, mushy raw fruit (such as squished blueberries or sliced avocado) or steamed harder fruit or vegetables (such as apple slices) 

  • Ground, shredded, or soft small pieces of protein such as ground beef, hard boiled egg slices, hummus, or shredded chicken

  • Soft slices or pieces of whole grains such as pasta (cooked to very tender) or pancake strips

  • Shredded cheese, yogurt, or soft full-fat dairy

Even if you are using the Baby Led Weaning technique, you do not need to avoid purees entirely. You can load yogurt or applesauce onto a baby spoon and allow your child to bring it towards his or her mouth. This is also a great way to combine feeding techniques if you aren’t comfortable jumping straight into solid foods.

This article has been reviewed by our 
team of experts.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article does not constitute medical advice. If you have concerns about any health or medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment you should consult with your pediatrician or a licensed healthcare provider.