I see you mama, struggling to let your kid hold a whole string bean in their hand. I see you, stricken with worry watching their every move while biting into those homemade sweet potato fries. I see you, over there, mixing up some purees ‘just in case’. Mama, I feel you!

I was the same way. Aiden started solids around six months old. Our first food, pureed avocado mixed with breast milk. Winner. He gobbled it up like a kid whose been eating his whole life. I knew, from school, that when starting solids kids usually only “play” with their foods, it’s not really for nutrition. However day one with Aiden he was on fire for solid foods.

Day two, however, was a quick snap back to reality. I gave him a banana. Have you ever done that trick with the banana where you put your thumb down the middle and spit it into three long strips of banana? If not, try it - it’s an amazing hack. Anyways, I gave him a strip of whole banana really wanting to make baby lead weaning a thing and he was not interested.

Really? A banana? that’s like the best fruit in town but he was having none of it. Now here’s were it could have been easy for me to say “guess he likes purees” and stick with purees until he was like 30 years old. But I kept offering, kept trying and you know what worked best for us and our little babe? We used a mixture of baby lead weaning and purees. It’s not all or nothing people.

You have full permission to do both.

We stuck with foods that were thin, long and easy for Aiden to grasp. We made sure all the foods were soft and easy to bite or mash up with his gummy smile. We also offered foods in puree form. Let me tell you an immersion blender is going to be your best friend. Literally would just take anything we were eating add some breast milk or water and then blend baby blend. Done and done.

Anyways, we found it easier and easier just to offer whole foods that we already had on our plate and were reassured by his pediatrician that kiddos have the strongest cough reflex ever and can almost always clear something that may not go down quite right. Aiden then proved this to us over and over again. Also remember that gagging and coughing are not choking. Choking is when there is no sound coming from your child and no air is being passed. Gagging and coughing are normal whether purees or whole foods.

Over time you get better and so does your child. Give it time. Be realistic about how long it takes. The first few MONTHS are meant for introducing flavors, textures and types of foods. It’s intended to be an introduction not your babies foremost source of nutrition. Continue the breast milk or formula as normal and offer water after 6 months of age as well. Don’t put too much on their plate as this can overwhelm some babies. One or two bites of each food is all they need and you can always bring over more.

Expect your kiddo to play with their foods, smashing it in their face, throwing it, smooshing it between their fingers or putting it in their mouth just to spit it out again and again. This is how they experiment. They’re not trying to press your buttons I assure you.

Tips to help guide baby lead weaning:

  • smash foods that can be a choking hazard such as beans or blueberries
  • cut foods into strips so they’re easy to grasp
  • cook foods to a soft texture so they can bite them easily
  • stay away from foods that are really “drying” ex. saltine crackers or dry toast
  • make sure your kiddo is sitting up straight while eating
  • offer water, breast milk or formula while eating
  • always stay close when feeding
  • get certified in CPR just in case (regardless of if you plan to do baby lead weaning)

Easy BLW ideas:

  • banana strips (see above)
  • sweet potato fries
  • rice and smashed beans
  • cooked zucchini strips
  • pear slices no skin
  • pancakes with butter and syrup
  • grated apples
  • soft fruits like raspberries, peaches etc
  • smashed blueberries
  • peas
  • baked potato strips
  • cooked green beans
  • eggplant

Choking hazards that should be avoided:

  • whole grapes
  • coin cut hot dogs
  • coin cut anything really
  • popcorn
  • raw hard vegetables like carrots or hard fruits not shredded
  • whole nuts (best to crush and sprinkle on other foods)
  • peanutbutter alone (always spread onto something else, globs aren’t safe for small kids)
  • hand candies, gums, laughy taffy type candies
  • marshmallows
Also remember that a mixture of purees and whole foods is perfectly ok! You know your kiddo best and you are the best person to make the choice on how to feed them! You do whatever you feel safe and comfortable doing!

Learn more about how to create peace at the dinner table here and remember keep offering mama! It takes up to 10-15 times for a food to be liked and over 20 times before it’s a favorite. They’re first reaction isn’t always their final reaction. Thanks for reading, hope you found this helpful - if so please share with someone else who might find this helpful as well.

Be well,

Aly