Considering baby-led weaning for your baby’s introduction to solids? Read on to discover 150 first foods for baby-led weaning (BLW), including options from every food groups, salt-free flavorings, and more.
Historically, spoon-feeding purees has been the conventional method for introducing solids to infants. However, a newer approach known as baby-led weaning (BLW) is gaining popularity.
Baby-led weaning involves offering soft, hand-held foods and encouraging self-feeding from the beginning instead of exclusively spoon-feeding purees. While baby-led weaning is a new concept for many there’s a growing body of evidence to support this method of introducing solids. For example, research indicates that offering textured foods at 6 months seems to enhance food acceptance and minimize feeding difficulties in later childhood . (Read more about the science behind baby-led weaning here).
Before we get to first food suggestions for BLW, let’s make sure your little one is ready to start eating.
Readiness to start solids: What to look for
Most children are typically ready to begin solid foods between 4-6 months of age, however, children with medical conditions or those born prematurely may require a bit more time before you can give them their first foods. Readiness for solid foods is determined by developmental milestones. Specifically, your little one should have achieved the following before you begin offering their first foods:
- Holds their head up and can sit comfortably in a high chair.
- Opens their mouth when food is presented.
- Successfully moves food from a spoon to their throat.
- Weighs at least twice their birthweight.
- No longer displays the tongue thrust reflex (pushing food out with tongue automatically)
Basic guidelines for baby-led weaning
Before you dish-up your baby’s first foods, there are a couple of ground rules for baby-led weaning you should know about:
- Skip the salt: Little kidneys can’t handle much sodium so added salt is off the menu until age 1. Pasta sauce, cheese, pre-made meals, and cured meats are hidden sources of sodium and off limits for new eaters. Read the label!
- Avoid added sugar: Introducing foods with added sugar can influence your child’s taste preferences towards sweet foods, potentially pushing out more nutrient-rich options.
- Extra soft foods are key: Babies take time to learn to eat. Foods such as whole grapes, nuts, and raw carrots are choking risks and shouldn’t be introduced until later in childhood.
- Wait until your 1 to introduce cow’s milk or soy milk: Your child’s digestive system isn’t equipped to process liquid milk (aside from breastmilk/formula) during the first year of life. However, yogurt and lower-sodium cheeses like mozzarella are generally well-tolerated and can be introduced earlier.
- Variety is key: The initial stages of feeding are pivotal in training your baby’s palate to accept an array of foods, flavors, and textures. Providing a diverse range of foods also ensures your baby receives a spectrum of nutrients crucial for early growth and development.
Baby-led weaning (BLW) first foods: Size matters
At 4-6 months most babies haven’t mastered the pincer grasp and don’t have the dexterity to pick up small pieces of food. Instead, new eaters need soft solids that can be picked up with the palmer grasp. Put simply, this means serving larger, thicker pieces of (soft) food in the shape of a log.
Best Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) First Foods
Now, onto the fun stuff: food. Here are 150 baby-led weaning foods and flavors to offer your little one. Anything denoted with a * is an iron-rich food.
- Cooked spinach, collards, Swiss chard
- Cooked asparagus
- Soft-cooked broccoli florets
- Cooked green beans
- Cucumber spears
- Zucchini batons
- Cooked shredded purple cabbage
- Soft-cooked beet wedges or puree
- Soft tomato wedges
- Soft-cooked carrots
- Cooked orange bell peppers slices
- Soft-cooked cauliflower florets
- Mushrooms quartered or halved
- Soft-cooked Brussels sprout quarters
- Soft-cooked snap peas
- Cooked bok choy
- Cooked okra cut in half
- Jicama spears
- Cooked eggplant batons
- Cooked fennel
- Cooked white onion
- Cooked red onion
- Cooked shredded cabbage
- Cooked summer squash batons
- Soft-cooked celery pieces
- Soft-cooked golden beet wedges
- Cooked red bell pepper slices
- Cooked spaghetti squash
- Honeydew melon wedges
- Kiwi quarters
- Soft-cooked or ripe pear slices
- Soft-cooked apple slices
- Smashed, pitted cherries
- Smashed raspberries
- Strawberry halves
- Watermelon batons
- Grapefruit slices
- Soft peach slices
- Soft nectarines slices
- Smashed grapes
- Smashed blackberries
- Smashed blueberries
- Soft plum slices
- Dragonfruit slices
- Orange slices
- Mandarin segments
- Cantaloupe slices
- Soft apricot slices
- Papaya slices
- Soft mango slices
- Soft persimmon slices
- Ripe pineapple spears
- Banana spears
- Guava wedges
- Starfruit batons
- Cooked brown rice
- Cooked wild rice
- Toasted whole wheat bread
- Cooked quinoa
- Whole wheat pasta
- Cooked farro
- Cooked bulgur
- White potato spears
- Sweet potato spears
- Winter squash wedges
- Smashed/ pureed corn
- Pumpkin wedges
- Smashed peas
- Turnip batons
- Plantain spears
- Cream of wheat
- Cooked buckwheat
- Infant cereal*
- Cooked barley
- Cooked couscous
- Shredded chicken*
- Ground turkey*
- Cooked tofu batons*
- Cooked tempeh batons*
- Shredded beef*
- Shredded lamb*
- Pulled pork*
- Ground bison*
- Deboned salmon pieces
- Deboned whiting pieces
- Deboned tilapia pieces
- Deboned flounder pieces
- Deboned haddock pieces
- Mashed or minced shrimp
- Mashed lentils*
- Smashed or whipped white beans*
- Smashed or whipped black beans*
- Smashed or whipped pinto beans*
- Smashed or whipped chickpea*
- Smashed or whipped kidney beans
- Nut/ seed butter
- Soft scrambled egg or slices of omelet
- Whole milk plain yogurt
- Whole milk kefir
- Full-fat soy yogurt
- Whole milk cottage cheese
These fats are great additions to infant meals. Besides adding calories to support infant growth, they also provide texture and flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado slices or smashed on toast
- Coconut milk (hold off offering as a drink until age 1)
- Chia seeds mixed with coconut milk or whole milk yogurt
- Butter/ ghee
Note that herbs and spices should not be offered alone because these can be a choking hazard. Instead, use herbs and spices to flavor soft solids and improve grip. For example, sprinkle cinnamon on soft-cooked apples, or add cumin to soft-cooked wedges of sweet potato.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
Slippery foods such as avocado and mango can be difficult for babies to pick up. Try coating slippery foods in one of these options to improve grip:
- Ground flaxseed
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Infant cereal*
- Shredded coconut (unsweetened)
- Wheat germ*
- Hemp seeds*
- Chickpea flour
- Coconut flour
- Almond flour
- While most children are typically ready to begin solids between 4-6 months of age, children with medical conditions or those born prematurely may require a bit more time before tasting their first foods.
- Baby-led weaning (BLW) is an alternative method of introducing solids that involves offering soft, hand-held foods right from the start to encourage self-feeding skills.
- Foods served as part of baby-led weaning should be free of added salt and sugar until your child reaches age 1.
- First foods should be extra soft and approximately two fingers wide to accommodate the palmar grasp and promote self-feeding.
Ready to start baby-led weaning? Get the complete guide to baby-led weaning including 60+ pages of handouts, printables, recipe ideas, and more HERE.
 Northstone K, Emmett P, Nethersole F; ALSPAC Study Team. Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood. The effect of age of introduction to lumpy solids on foods eaten and reported feeding difficulties at 6 and 15 months. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2001 Feb;14(1):43-54. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-277x.2001.00264.x. PMID: 11301932.
 Wang, J., Wu, Y., Xiong, G., Chao, T., Jin, Q., Liu, R., Hao, L., Wei, S., Yang, N., & Yang, X. (2016). Introduction of complementary feeding before 4months of age increases the risk of childhood overweight or obesity: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.), 36(8), 759–770. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2016.03.003