Weaning your baby onto solid foods is a milestone that parents may dread, for many it goes smoothly and for some is a nightmare but for all parents it does raise questions – about the right time and the right method.

Babies should be weaned onto solids when they are ready (but no later than 6 months). Between 6 and 8 months of age, all babies should be on solids and most can start to feed themselves. Following your baby’s lead and offering them the opportunity to self-feed is called baby-led weaning.

The WHAT of Baby-led weaning:

BLW entails offering soft, whole foods to your little one.  The foods should be able to be held in your baby’s fist and broken down by the chomping motion of her gums.

The following foods can be offered:

  • Veggies – Whole steamed butternut; broccoli; cauliflower; baby marrow; carrots (steamed to very soft); steamed shredded cabbage
  • Fruit – Soft peeled naartjie segments (the thin membrane removed); strawberries; banana slices; melon, especially watermelon; ripe peaches
  • Proteins – boiled or scrambled egg; steamed fish; mince meat; small chopped vienna’s
  • Dips – offer load of dips – eg avo dip, humus, tahini, peanut butter etc that your baby can dip his whole food into and suck off the veggies or fruit

The HOW of Baby-led weaning:

In the early days of BLW, have two bowls for your baby. In one bowl have the ‘mush’ that you offer on a spoon – eg porridge or mashed gem squash. In the other bowl, offer the whole food that your little one can control. As she gets more proficient at self-feeding, reduce your input in feeding her.

Cautions – Your baby may gag but is unlikely to choke on the food, as long as it is soft and manageable with gummy chomps. Even so, you should never leave your baby eating unsupervised. And obviously do not offer food with a choking risk, such as whole nuts, apple and hard carrots.