10 best first foods for plant-based baby-led weaning! If you’re doing BLW and need some food ideas to get started, look no further. Baby-led weaning first foods.
Here at PBJs, we’re big advocates of baby-led weaning (BLW). If you’re not familiar with BLW, this is an alternative approach to introducing solids to your babe without using traditional spoon-fed purees. While this may seem like a novel approach, BLW is actually how babies were originally introduced to solids (pureed baby foods didn’t hit the market until the 1930s!).
While there’s not a huge amount of research on BLW, many feeding experts agree that it has numerous benefits for babies. It allows for self-feeding and an early understanding of satiety cues, as well as an opportunity to learn nonverbal cues with your baby. Some studies suggest that BLW may even help lower the risk for childhood obesity compared to spoon-feeding.
We’ve both used BLW with our kids and found it to be an enjoyable way to introduce solids to them. If you’re considering doing BLW, you may be wondering about what types of foods are best to start with. We’re providing some ideas below!
Here are 10 of the best plant foods to get started with BLW.
Avocados are rich in fiber, folate, and healthy fats. They have a fairly neutral flavor and creamy texture that work well for first baby foods. Remove the pit from the avocado and the top half of the outer peel. Slice it into long strips. Each strip can still have the peel attached to the lower half, as this helps improve baby’s grip. Alternatively, you can offer totally peeled avocado and baby can mash away (and hopefully get some into their mouth!).
Lightly toasted bread improves the texture so that it’s less gummy in baby’s mouth as well as easier to hold. Cut toast into thin slices, around 3 inches in length. You can even spread thinned nut butter or hummus onto them for extra nutrition.
Raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries work best here as they are easily mashed with toothless gums and can be cut into small strips. You can also serve them pre-mashed. These can be served on their own or added to iron-fortified oatmeal.
Raw broccoli is too fibrous and hard for babies, but roasted or steamed broccoli is a great first food. Slice broccoli florets into strips, with at least 1-2 inches of the stalk for baby to hold as a handle. Broccoli can be served on its own, tossed with olive oil for extra fat, or with a flavorful seasoning like homemade vegan parmesan.
Beans are high in protein and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. Drain and rinse canned beans for an inexpensive and easy food. Smash them to make them easier for baby’s pincer grasp. Try black beans, kidney beans, or white/navy/cannellini beans. Eventually, you can add beans to homemade veggie meatballs or puree them into hummus to use as a spread for toast or a mix-in for pasta.
6. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamin A. Peel them and slice them into pinky finger-like shapes. Then, steam them for 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can roast sweet potato slices in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. For more flavor, toss cooked sweet potato strips with olive oil and cinnamon.
Protein-rich tempeh can be steamed to increase softness and reduce bitterness. It can be crumbled and offered to babe on its own or tossed with olive oil and seasonings like garlic and onion powder.
Frozen or canned green peas are perfect little finger foods for babies. They’re also a great source of protein. Peas mash well and are soft and small enough to help baby practice picking them up.
Pancakes should be cut into finger-width slices to allow for baby to pick them up more easily. You can even smear these with a thin layer of nut/seed butter and sprinkle them with chia or hemp seeds for extra nutrients. Try this recipe for baby-led weaning pancakes.
Penne pasta is a great shape for baby to practice their palmar grasp. Any pasta shape works well for the pincer grasp. Make sure you cook pasta according to its packaging instructions, or slightly longer to make it more easily mashed. Toss cooked pasta with a sauce of choice.
We hope this list of baby-led weaning first foods is helpful. Depending on your family’s preferences, there can be many more than 10 best first foods for plant-based baby-led weaning. Enjoy the process!
Chime In: What are some of the first foods you’ve used for BLW? Share below!
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