Baby led weaning food is our topic today in the BLW series! So far, we’ve talked about why baby-led weaning is the best way to feed your baby and the three must-have items for it. But before you truly begin, let’s discuss how-to cut baby led weaning food appropriately for this adventure.
Unless you are looking to switch methods, it’s likely you have yet to give your baby any solids. Still, I’m sure you know your little one’s fine motor skills aren’t particularly sharp at the moment. Therefore, you want to present foods in a way to help baby be successful, not frustrated. Providing him or her with foods with a “handle” to hang onto will aid immensely until they do improve.
As you can see below, almost all the baby led weaning food shown below have a handle built-in, as long as you don’t cut it off. Let’s chat about cutting specifics, starting with sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are, hands down, one of my favorite baby led weaning food options for new baby-lead weaners. They are extremely healthy and easy to prep, as well as simple for baby to pick-up. Their only downside is they take a pretty solid 30 minutes to bake, so you do need to plan ahead a little.
For prep work, they are super simple: first, cut a sweet potato in half.
Cut in half again.
Then cut off the rounded part so you’re left with two flat sides.
From here, cut off the rounded edges (again) as best you can.
Essentially, you’re making chunky fries/”sticks”. Coat the fries in olive oil and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet (or our favorite: the silpat! Seriously the best. Never buy tin foil again!) for less clean up. Roast them in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes; flip and bake another 15.
Once baby seems to be enjoying sweet potatoes, try adding in different spices. Spices like cinnamon and cumin pair well with sweet potato — just make sure to hold the salt! Remember: little ones should be eating less than one gram of salt per day.
Another favorite! Not only of mine, but of my kids — still today! Our oldest daughter requests broccoli, and asks for more when hers is gone. Winning!
Again, simple prep: cut broccoli “trees” with a couple inches worth of a handle. There’s also no need to cut the “tree” itself too small. You want to give baby enough to gnaw on once they successfully get it to their mouth. Not to mention, bigger target is easier to be successful with.
As for how to cook, you’ll want to steam the broccoli until it’s nice and tender. You can do this both with a steam basket and without. We’ve been at this almost six years now, and we still do not own ourselves. Instead, we put about a fingertip’s worth of water in the base of a small saucepan. Let the water come to a boil and toss the broccoli in; cover with a lid. Allow to steam around six minutes; drain, let it cool and sometimes I’ll opt to blot it on a paper towel if it seems a little too “wet”. If you do use a steam basket, simply steam for eight to 10 minutes.
One of my twins is crazy for bell peppers! I always get a kick out of seeing babies love unconventional veggies… and I feel like peppers are one of those. You can actually give this baby led weaning food to baby raw. They likely won’t really eat a whole lot of these necessarily, but will instead gum on the pepper sticks and enjoy the flavor.
To prep, just cut off the sides in four cuts. Then, cut vertical strips about a half-inch in width.
Another favorite of mine to serve (notice a theme? I love serving veggies to my kids! It’s so awesome to watch my babies devour them. Their love of food when using this feeding method never ceases to amaze me!) You have an option here to lightly steam or not. I never do — instead, I cut off the rounded ends, then cut in half. From here, I cut the cucumber in long quarters. Much like bell pepper, baby just enjoys gumming on its cool surface and sucks out some of the juice and seeds. These are especially soothing to serve when baby might be getting teeth.
Easy peasy: cut off the “woody” end and then cut in half again. Steam or boil in water for six to eight minutes, until tender.
Most baby-led weaning examples you see for bananas show a banana with most of the peel still on and just a small portion exposed. The purpose of this is to provide baby with a “grip”. I don’t like this approach. It’s weird and cumbersome to cut it this way, and baby ends up gnawing on the peel itself quite often. Instead, I find separating a banana in its “natural” lines works best.
In the first photo, you see a banana, as is. In the next photo, you can start to see a section of the banana separate. This is done simply by pressing gently around the outside edge until you begin to notice that separation begin. Once it starts, that’s the ticket! Just continue to gently pull the banana apart all the way to its end. Once you separate one section from the rest, it’s super simple to pull apart the last two pieces. Ultimately, you should end up with three long sections of banana. I typically cut these sections in half or thirds, depending how long they are, and give a couple banana “sticks” to my baby at a time.
The prep rules for clementines apply also directly to oranges and other citrus fruits. Citrus fruits can be tricky for babies. That clear “skin” which encompasses the fruit on a citrus fruit can be tough. This means it can be difficult, especially for a toothless baby, to get through. Not only will baby not get to fully enjoy their food in that case, but it also poses a higher choking risk. Therefore, it is important to peel that off any citrus fruit you offer. Although it sounds daunting, it really is pretty simple. That said, it does take a little extra time.
First, peel your orange. Then, make a little slice in the “casing” around the actual fruit. Gently peel back that casing; continue until the inner part of the fruit is all that remain. Not only does this make it more delicious for baby to eat, but also more safe. The inner part of a citrus fruit has a tendency to flake apart easily, making it an ideal option for BLW.
Pears are the first sweet fruit I offer my babies. It’s easy to cut and is naturally soft when left to ripen to deliciousness, which means hardly any prep or plan-ahead work on a busy parents’ part. Though I don’t steam pears, I do take care to remove the peel. I also cut these in sticks, just like sweet potatoes. Cut two large chunks on either side of the core, then cut off the two smaller sections. From here, cut off the rounded edges and cut into two or three long sticks.
Kiwi are going to be a little more tricky baby led weaning food for new solid-eaters to try because of their slippery nature, but they are still a great option. To prep, peel the skin off and cut in long quarters.
Interested in learning more about baby led weaning food? Check out my other posts in this series (5 Reasons to Love Baby-Led Weaning and 3 Must Have Baby-Led Weaning Essentials) and be sure to download my FREE baby-led weaning starter kit! The Starter Kit includes three months worth of menus for baby, a few recipes, a grocery shopping/meal planner and even more cutting instructions for other first foods.
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