Baby-led Weaning: First Foods & Favourites

BLW cookbook

Following my last Caterpillar Corner post – Six Reasons To Love Baby-led Weaning – today I wanted to share some of our favourite recipe ideas and on-the-go snacks, and review Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett’s The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook, from which a lot of those recipes come.

First foods

The very first foods I started weaning Caterpillar on were:

  • Steamed veg (carrot, broccoli, parsnip & green beans)
  • Steamed fruits (I lightly steamed slices of apple and pear to make them easier for him to manage)
  • Soft fruits (bananas, nectarines, plums – the latter I would remove the stones but leave in halves so he had something to hold onto)
  • Toast fingers
  • Rice cakes
  • Porridge fingers (see below)
  • Weetabix (softened with a tiny bit of milk and cut in half lengthways)

For steaming, I used this great Sistema microwave steamer as it is incredibly quick and easy. After a week or two, when Caterpillar began to munch up and actually eat some of the above we introduced these:

  • Satsuma segments and grapes (both cut into halves or quarters as these can be choking hazards)
  • Homemade Pancakes
  • Meat (well cooked and cut into strips)
  • Natural or Greek Yoghurt (using loaded spoon method)
  • Very thick porridge
  • Very thick homemade soup
  • Homemade savoury muffins
  • Minced meat in sauce (bolognaise, chilli etc)
  • Large pasta shapes in tomato sauce (rigatoni, large shells etc)

Things you should know:

BLW is messy

Really messy. More messy than spoon feeding because your baby is getting the food to their mouths themselves. I don’t want to know how many collective hours I spent scrubbing down his highchair tray and the kitchen floor! But it isn’t too long before they get the hang of holding onto their food. And using the loaded spoon method meant that Caterpillar was fairly early to cutlery too.

There will be waste

I know this doesn’t sit easy with a lot of people but unfortunately there is some food waste with BLW, but hopefully if it helps your child be less fussy it will lead to less waste in the future.

You need patience

You have to be willing to give your little one as long as they need to explore the new textures and flavours, and to physically munch up the food with their gums or minimal teeth. Although I was really surprised what Caterpillar could handle with just his gums, it was quite remarkable.

If you like to cook, BLW is perfect for you. It gave me a chance to cook new things and watch Caterpillar try them. As I mentioned, I was still feeling a little inadequate as a parent during this time, following PND, but BLW actually helped to build my confidence as I knew I was a decent cook and felt I was being a good mum by providing Caterpillar with great food.

Shop bought on-the-go snacks

Where I could I brought fruit, veg sticks and homemade savoury muffins out with me but, let’s be honest, sometimes you just want super quick snacks and I found these ones were all a huge hit with Caterpillar:

  • Organix Goodies Soft Oaty Bars
  • Organix Goodies Cheese & Herb Puffs
  • Bear Paws Pure Fruit Shapes
  • Ella’s Kitchen Parsnip & Poppy Seed Cracker Bites
  • Organix Rice Cakes
  • Heinz Apple Biscotti

The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook

For anyone about to embark on the Baby-led Weaning journey I strongly recommend buying one or both of Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett’s books. The cookbook in particular is brilliant.

Part one contains all the information you could need about getting started with BLW including the benefits, how to know when your baby is ready and what to expect from weaning this way. A particularly useful reference point is the Developing Skills pages which take you through by age what you can expect your child to be able to manage and food suggestions for that age group. The foods to avoid and food safety sections are incredibly useful and reassuring too.

Part two is a huge selection of varied recipes to suit all stages and tastes. Snacks and breakfast foods like Quick Porridge Fingers (porridge cooked in the microwave with only a small amount of milk so you can cut into handheld slices) and carrot muffins became real staples in our house. There are lots of items that you can make in bulk and freeze too (Caterpillar loves tuna croquettes, homemade beef burgers and chickpea patties).

I love that the recipes don’t shy away from big flavours – chilli con carne, lamb tagine, saag paneer – it’s all there.  I still use the curry paste recipes regularly.  The book is bright, clear and really easy to use with cute illustrations and lots of ideas and advice.

I hope these baby-led weaning posts have been helpful to anyone curious about BLW and that you find it enjoyable.  If you want more information on baby-led weaning, along with all the advice and safety guidelines, please visit Gill Rapley’s website.

You can get your hands on a copy of The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook here.  

*Disclaimer: I’m not an expert, just a mum sharing her experience*

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36 comments on “Baby-led Weaning: First Foods & Favourites

  1. I love the Baby-led Weaning Cookbook! The savoury flapjacks from that bok have been a bit hit in our house. I grate some carrot or courgette into them to make them healthier – kind of. #bestandworst

  2. My daughter is just about to turn 4 months and is already obsessed with food. She keeps throwing herself at my dinner plate and gets annoyed when I wont share. (She ate her messy play activity today – it was fruit puree so I’m not too worried!) Some great ideas for first foods here, I planned on starting with avocado and banana in a month or so but looks like Eden has other plans.

    1. Thanks for reading. The only downside with BLW is that they recommend you don’t start until six months because it is whole foods BUT my son was v interested so I think we began about 5 and a half months and he was fine. Thanks so much for reading and commenting – have fun weaning! 😀 x

  3. Excellent tips for BLW. I started my baby off on spoon fed purees, but he went through a ‘fussy’ phase at about 9 months. After a few weeks I worked out that he wanted to feed himself and we ditched the spoon feeding. He’s much happier and I’m less stressed! Now I’m working on introducing more family foods instead of finger foods I’ve made especially for him. I think if we do weaning again with another baby I’ll do BLW from the start.

  4. I think it’s great to give babies & kids different flavours. You never know what they will like! our son loves sour things & will suck on a lemon. Our youngest likes curry & spicy hummus. Baby Led Weaning seems to be the way forward. Thanks so much for sharing with #bloggerclubuk x

  5. This is a great post for anyone looking to try BLW! I shied away from BLW the first time, because the thought of it actually terrified me! So we did purees for quite a long time, but I was sure to introduce the strong flavours early. By the time my second was born, the first was already a really fussy eater, and as I’d heard that BLW babies are often less fussy, I resolved to put my fears aside and try it for number 2! I didn’t do it strictly, as sometimes I gave him the odd puree, but he seemed to really enjoy the BLW part! My 2 still love all the things on your list of on the go snacks, even at 3 and 2! Thank you for bringing this to #bigpinklink!

  6. Love these tips, we did this with our kids, it’s messy but so worth it and a fab way to introduce kids to the beauty of food. I didn’t do it in restaurants and cafes but I did at home. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

  7. Enjoyed reading this post … it made me remember when I was weaning my daughter! We did a mix of spoon feeding and baby-led and it was all incredibly messy but really fun. She’s two now and still loves those Organix cheese and herb puffs 🙂 #anythinggoes

  8. We are doing a both purees and baby-led weaning with our little one. I’m doing purees to make sure that she’s getting some food in, she’s been ready to eat for a while so we started early. We’re also doing baby-led at the same time, so that she’s getting used to handling food. Your post has some great ideas for BLW, and I have purchased the book as well. Claire x #bigpinklink

  9. Fab post, and so many great ideas.We did both with H, but I felt like I was constantly on the hunt for ideas and not realising what I could give her as she grew older. I’d definitely follow another book next time – thanks for the recommendations 🙂

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