BLW first foods
Starting finger foods is an exciting time on your baby’s weaning journey. Through baby led weaning they can discover all sorts of new tastes and textures. They will also enjoy being able to feed themselves. It’s a messy business but it’s great fun too!
We’ve put together a list of top 30 BLW first foods below to get started with baby led weaning.
When do I start baby led weaning?
You can give your baby finger foods right from the first bite, when they are 6 months old.
Your baby is ready to try finger foods when:
- He can sit unaided in a high chair
- He can ‘chew’, using his gums to mash food
- He has developed the ‘pincer grip’ so he can pick up objects and guide them to his mouth
Babies shouldn’t be given finger foods before 6 months of age. They should also always be supervised when eating.
Combined weaning baby led and puree
Another way to begin, is to give baby soft finger foods alongside a puree. This has the advantage of allowing your baby to explore finger foods while also mastering spoon feeding and getting nutrition from the purees.
Over time you then phase the purees out and carry on with just the finger foods. Different ways work for different babies so it’s up to you how you prefer to start.
What foods should I introduce first?
Babies are encouraged to try all sorts of different finger foods, to get them used to a variety of tastes and textures.
We’ve included our top 30 baby led weaning starter foods below. If you want an stage by stage break down of BLW first foods you can also see our complete list: Baby led weaning foods by age.
If your family dinner is made with mild, ‘ordinary’ ingredients, you can often just make the same for baby. Cut off pieces from the food you are serving the rest of the family and offer it as finger foods. For example, if you’re having a roast dinner you could give them roasted carrot batons and little strips of chicken.
The idea is to introduce your child to as many different foods as you can, one by one, to gradually widen their palette.
Top 30 baby led weaning starter foods
Baby led weaning vegetables
We always recommend that vegetables are soft and mashable for baby’s gums. And that they are cut correctly for baby led weaning finger foods (see our guide below).
Boil or steam then chop into batons or small pea-sized chunks.
If you prefer you can also roast carrots in a little oil to give them a different taste and texture for baby to explore.
Sprinkle roast carrots with chopped parsley or thyme for more flavour.
Boil or steam your broccoli and then cut it into small pieces or skinny florets.
Peel and cut your sweet potatoes into thin batons. Either boil them or roast in a little oil.
Oregano or a pinch of ground cinnamon work well with sweet potatoes if you decide to roast them.
Boil and drain the peas. You could pop them into a colourful cupcake case to serve to baby.
Peel, steam and chop your courgette into small pieces. You could also cut the courgette into thin batons and saute it in a pan with olive oil or coconut oil.
Just remember to peel the courgette first as the skin can be quite acidic and might affect little tummies.
Peel and cut your squash into batons and roast the pieces in the oven with a little oil. Or you could pop them in the steamer until soft.
You can sprinkle them with thyme, rosemary or cinnamon to add some new flavours.
Steam and chop your green beans into pieces.
Remember to remove any stringy bit before you give them to your baby. You can drizzle green beans with olive oil.
You can peel the cucumber, cut into thin batons or small pieces and serve it raw. Easy peasy.
Parsnip is a great food to cut into thin fingers for roasting. You can add a pinch of thyme for extra flavour.
Roast your pumpkin in the oven until nice and soft. Cut out the flesh into thin batons or little pieces. Add a pinch of rosemary, thyme, or cinnamon to give it some aromatic flavours if you would like to.
Baby led weaning fruits
Fruit is a winner as babies have a natural sweet tooth. Make sure the fruit is peeled, soft and mashable before you give it to your baby.
Here are some fab first fruit finger foods to try:
These can be washed, chopped and served raw. Cut your blueberries into halves or quarters to minimise the risk of choking.
Cut your apple into slices or little chunks and steam until soft.
Or you could even roast some pieces with cinnamon and butter for a delicious baby treat.
Simply peel and cut your peaches into thin slices or little pieces.
If it’s nice and ripe it will be soft enough for your baby to mash with their gums without the need for cooking.
Did you know avocado was a fruit?
This is another nice easy one to prepare. Pick a soft, ripe avocado. Simply scoop out the flesh and cut it into small slices or long batons.
Peel and cut a very ripe pear into batons or little pieces to offer raw. If it’s a little firm you could steam it for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Or you could coat slices of pear in a bit of oil and cinnamon and bake them in the oven for half an hour.
Peel and chop a ripe banana into small pieces.
Peel and chop a ripe mango into thin batons or little chunks.
Peel and cut your ripe nectarine into thin slices or little squares. If it’s a bit firm you can steam the pieces for 5-10 minutes first.
Peel and cut ripe plums into small chunks for baby to enjoy.
Baby led weaning meat and fish
There are so many yummy ways you can introduce your baby to the different tastes and textures of white meats and fish.
Here are some great ideas for first meat and fish finger foods to give alongside vegetables and fruit:
Roast, bake or grill chicken and then cut it into thin strips or little pea sized chunks.
Try to make it as soft and tender as possible. It’s always a good idea to double check the chicken is cooked through and not pink inside before offering some to baby.
Roast or grill your turkey and cut it into small pieces to offer to baby.
Bake white fish in the oven until it’s soft and flaky.
Make extra sure there are no tiny bones hiding anywhere by checking it with a fork before giving to baby.
You could bake your salmon in the oven and cut into pieces. Again, take a look to make sure there are no bones before giving to your baby.
Baby led weaning grains and carbs
Boil rice and then, when it’s a little cooled, roll it in your hands to make mini rice balls.
You can add peas to the mix too to make your rice balls more interesting.
Oats are a great first food for baby. Either as an oatmeal cereal breakfast with some mashed banana or steamed apple. Or as tasty finger biscuits.
Try our recipe for Homemade banana teething rusks which are great tasting finger biscuits with all natural ingredients.
Cut off the crusts and then chop your toast into skinny fingers.
Babies will love working their way around the pieces.
You could also cut off thin strips of pitta bread.
Whip up a batch of pancakes and then cut them into thin fingers.
You could try these 3 ingredient Baby Banana Pancakes, which are dairy free, all natural and easy to whip together for baby.
Simply boil until soft and serve pasta.
You can add some homemade basil pesto for extra flavour. For older babies and toddlers, there is a recipe for homemade basil pesto in this recipe for chicken pesto bites here.
Boil your barley until soft. Let it cool and then serve. You could add some chopped dill or parsley to it as well for a fresh herb taste.
Couscous only needs to sit in boiling water for 5 minutes. When it’s done let it cool and fluff it out with a fork for your baby to dig into.
You can add some vegetables or a bit of oil or butter to make it a meal all on its own.
Ready to start baby led weaning?
We hope these 30 Baby led weaning starter foods have given you some inspiration to begin your weaning journey.
Remember to keep offering baby a wide variety of foods and try to keep up a mix of vegetables, fruit, meat and grains.
Don’t worry if your little one turns his nose up at some foods. Just offer them again in a few days time.
It can take several tries to like a new food so don’t give up, And enjoy baby’s journey into the wonderful world of food!
Baby led weaning choking concerns
A common concern when parents start giving their baby solid foods to chew is the fear of choking. It’s a real worry and can make you scared when you start giving your baby finger foods.
A study carried out in 2016 found that there is no greater risk of babies choking if they do baby led weaning compared to babies who start with purees.
That said, all babies should be closely supervised when they start weaning and never left alone while eating, even for a minute.
Start with soft finger foods
It’s best to start with soft finger foods that are easily mashable by your baby’s gums.
Peel and chop the fruit and vegetables and cook them until they are soft and chewable.
The softness test
To test it to see if your baby’s food is soft enough, place the food in your mouth and see if you can easily mash it with your tongue onto the roof of your mouth.
How to cut finger foods for baby led weaning
It can be a good idea to make batons of finger food. These are long enough for your baby to pick up and grasp in their hands, and thin enough that they don’t get stuck in their windpipe.
Alternatively you can cut up food into small pieces for your baby to pick up and chew.
Rule of thumb for chopping finger foods
Use the rule of thumb to guide you when you chop food. Everything should be cut smaller than a thumb’s width before it is served to babies and young children.
For small pieces, they should be about the size of a chick pea.
Your baby might prefer their food to be thin sticks or little chunks. Try both and see what works best for them.
Foods that are choking hazards for toddlers and babies
Never serve foods that are round and could get stuck in your baby’s air pipe. So avoid foods like whole grapes, whole cherry tomatoes, whole cherries and whole nuts.
Raw carrot and apple are also a choking risk. Always peel, chop and cook until soft before serving.
Foods that can swell in the throat after chewing can also be a choking hazard. So take care with foods like banana and melon. Make sure you cut them into nice small pieces before giving them to your baby.
Other foods that are best to avoid for small babies and toddlers due to the risk of choking include hot dog sausages, popcorn and marshmallows.
The difference between gagging and choking
Lots of babies gag when they start eating solids. This can be alarming for parents but it is not the same as choking.
Gagging can sound worrying but it’s a way of your baby bringing any bigger lumps back to the front of his mouth to mash them down again.
Gagging is noisy but choking is silent, which is why it is so important to keep a close eye on your baby as they eat.
If they eat a round piece of food that blocks their airway then they can choke. A baby who chokes is unable to cry, cough, make any noise or breathe. If your baby chokes then it’s important to act quickly.
What to do if your baby chokes
There are a number of things you can do to prevent choking. Take care to offer safer foods and prepare them correctly as we have outlined above. But if the worst happens and they do choke, it’s good to know what to do.
A bit of research done ahead of time can make all the difference. You could find a local first aid course to help you gain valuable skills.
There are also a number of helpful videos online, like the one above, that explain what to do. Or you could read some of the helpful articles like this piece here from British Red Cross: First aid for a baby who is choking.
Be prepared to act if the worst happens. We hope that it never does and that you and baby can enjoy a wonderful weaning adventure together.
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