Baby-Led Weaning Starter Foods: What to Feed Your Baby

How to start the process with nourishing foods.

Baby-led weaning means allowing your baby to self-feed using solid foods. This method is generally used by mamas who want an alternative to purées or who want their babies to have a bit more independence when feeding.

If you’re considering this method, you might be wondering, “What are the best foods for baby-led weaning?” Luckily, there are a ton of options for your baby that are easy to prepare for you and delicious for your little one.

When Can You Start Baby-Led Weaning?

According to the CDC, you can start giving your baby solid food when they’re around six months old. Of course, every baby is different. There are some developmental milestones your baby should achieve before trying solid foods.

For example, your baby should be able to sit up alone without support. They should also be able to control their head and bring objects to their mouth. If you notice that your baby doesn’t swallow what you offer and instead pushes it back out, they may not be ready just yet.

Is Baby-Led Weaning Worth It?

There are many benefits to baby-led weaning. For example, according to a baby-lead weaning study, this method may encourage greater satiety-responsiveness (or your baby’s reaction when they’re full) and healthy weight-gain trajectories.

Still, more studies need to be completed to see the true benefit of this method of feeding. The bottom line is this: You know what’s best for your baby. So long as your baby is happy and fed, whether by spoon or their own hands, you can’t lose.

How to Start Baby-Led Weaning

If you’re ready to get baby-led weaning a shot, here are a few tips to help you and your baby get started.

Be Patient

The fun part of baby-led weaning is the exploration of new things. This is the first time your baby is experiencing some of these foods, so be patient. For example, your baby may decide they don’t like a certain food. Don’t be afraid to try that food again in a week or so. As your baby experiences new tastes and textures, their likes and dislikes will change.

Don’t Stop the Milk

First things first, you shouldn’t stop breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby when you start giving solids. Instead, you should keep feedings the same. This is important to ensure your baby is still getting the nutrients they need while they try and get used to new foods.

You can offer finger foods during a breastfeeding or bottle-feeding session, before or after. You may find that shortly your baby will only want milk in between feedings. This is all a part of the weaning process.

Start With Soft & Bland Food

Soft and bland foods are key when your baby is just getting a taste of new foods. This will help ease the transition and will be easier on your baby’s tummy. The best way to serve these foods is in an easy-to-hold way. For example, you can try batons or foods cut into stick shapes that your baby can easily hold.

Foods to Avoid While Trying Baby-Led Weaning

First things first, there are some foods you should avoid feeding your baby for the best experience. For example, you should avoid foods that are:

  • Hard to chew: Food that is hard to chew can be a choking hazard, especially for young babies.

  • High in salt: Babies should not eat much salt at all. Your baby’s little kidneys are not yet developed enough to process it. It’s best to stick with fruits, veggies and simple grains.

  • Small and round: Again, foods that are small such as grapes can be choking hazards for small babies. If you do plan to serve these food items to your baby, make sure to slice them or dice them.

You should also avoid foods such as cow’s milk until your baby is older. Cow’s milk is often difficult for babies under a year old to digest.

Foods for Six Month Olds & Older

As mentioned above, the first foods you give your baby should be soft. It should also be mild in flavor. For most foods, you’ll want to slice them to fit in your baby’s hand for easy chewing. And for some, such as apples, you’ll want to cook until soft.


  • Cooked apple slices

  • Avocados

  • Bananas

  • Nectarine slices

  • Peach slices

  • Pear slices

  • Plum slices


For veggies, the best thing you can do is steam them until they’re soft. While you may feel tempted, be sure to avoid adding any additional salt.

  • Broccoli florets

  • Carrots

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Green beans

  • Peas

  • Squash and butternut squash


  • Rice

  • Oatmeal

Foods for Six- to Eight-Month Olds & Older

Once your baby passes the six-month mark, they’ll be ready for greater variety. Some of the foods listed here have more of a surprising taste than those listed above. This can be super fun for your baby.


Fruits are always fun for your baby and can get a bit messy. Just embrace it! Your baby is trying new tastes and textures which can help with their overall development. For any of these fruits, we recommend slicing them first and removing any hard skin.

  • Apricots

  • Mango

  • Nectarine slices

  • Peach slices

  • Plums


Just like fruits, don’t forget to peel the veggies. Tough skin can make some veggies hard to chew. You’ll also want to cook or steam these veggies until they’re soft.

  • Summer squash

  • Parsnips

  • Pumpkin


Ah, bread. Finally, your little one can enjoy one of life’s most simplest and delicious pleasures. When serving bread, make sure to cut it into strips or slices. Any kind of bread will do, depending on your needs.

  • Fingers of bread or toast

  • Pasta

  • Breadsticks

  • Unsalted rice cakes

Meats, Fish & Proteins

Now your baby can try meat for the first time. Make sure to cook the meat until it’s soft and tender. You’ll also want to avoid meat that requires a strong chew for now such as steak or other cuts of beef.

  • Chicken

  • Turkey

  • White fish

Foods for Eight- to 10-Month Olds & Older

Here comes even more variety. Now, your baby can try out meats and veggies, fruits and veggies and other combinations. You may find that your baby is learning what they do or don’t like at this stage.


Slightly crunchy food or food with a slight bite can now be given to your little one. Just be sure that small and round foods such as grapes and cherries are sliced in half. And if there are seeds or pits, you’ll want to remove them before serving.

  • Blueberries

  • Cherries

  • Grapes

  • Melon

  • Papaya


  • Asparagus

  • Cauliflower

  • Lentils

  • Onions

  • Turnips


  • Quinoa

  • Buckwheat

  • Flax


Who doesn’t love eggs? Now, your baby is able to enjoy eggs in all their yummy forms. Try scrambling the eggs for a fun texture. Or, cut up hard-boiled eggs into slices. Your baby can also enjoy beef and pork now. Just make sure it’s tender before serving.

  • Beef

  • Eggs

  • Pork

  • Salmon


  • Yogurt

  • Cream cheese

  • Cottage cheese

  • Cheese sticks

Foods for 10- to 12-Month Olds & Older

At this point, it’s time for your baby to try stronger foods that may be more acidic in nature such as tomatoes and corn.


  • Strawberries

  • Tomatoes

  • Oranges


  • Corn

  • Spinach

Foods for 12-Month Olds & Older

Once your baby reaches their first birthday, they’ll be ready to eat anything they want. After six months of training, your little one will be ready for anything that comes their way. Our favorite meal to watch our littles enjoy to the fullest? Spaghetti. You’ll definitely need some baby wipes after that one.

Learn More About Baby-Led Weaning On Our Blog

Want to learn even more about baby-led weaning? Check out our blog for more tips, tricks and insights. And if you want a simpler way to breastfeed, check out the Willow wearable breast pump today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
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