When a couple wants to start a family, they dream of all the wonderful family dinners and food moments that they will share. Before that can happen, of course, they have to start baby-led weaning. Baby-led weaning is when breastfeeding moms also give their babies food, and they have to learn to feed themselves. Picture all of those messy babies sitting in a high chair, trying to get one Cheerio to their mouths.
As author Clancy Cash Harrison told Parents magazine, "Baby-led weaning supports the development of eye-hand coordination, chewing skills, dexterity, and healthy eating habits," she says. "It also offers babies an opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aroma, and color of a variety of foods."
That being said, here are the 10 best starter foods for baby-led weaning.
Pumpkin is a super popular food during the fall months. We see it in the pumpkin spice lattes that we're all obsessed with, pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and there are tons of savory recipes, such as pumpkin chili. Pumpkin can also be a food that moms try for baby-led weaning.
Mama Natural suggests that when moms are thinking about foods for baby-led weaning, they can choose pumpkin as one of those foods. This might not be something that we've thought of, but it makes sense since pumpkin is soft and simple to eat. Maybe our babies will love pumpkin just as much as the rest of us.
READ MORE: 15 Lies The Baby Food Industry Is Keeping
9. Green Beans
Green beans may be a staple in the popular Thanksgiving casserole (with crispy fried onions on top, thank you very much) and a nice side dish for a regular old dinner, but moms might not think of it as a food for baby-led weaning. It totally can be, along with a few other vegetables. As long as it's cooked in a certain way (greens should be incredibly soft so babies can eat it without any trouble), these are easy for babies to munch on.
Veggies and Virtue suggests green beans as a food for baby-led weaning, saying: "Trim ends and cut into two long pieces. May serve steamed, canned, or roasted."
Many of us love eggs and think that they make an amazing breakfast. Scrambled, fried, in frittatas or omelets, they're a good source of protein. They're also great for a quick breakfast during the week or a longer breakfast on the weekend (with toast, bacon, and coffee, please).
Parents.com also suggests that babies can eat some eggs during baby-led weaning: "Eggs are a good source of protein, iron, and fat—which babies need everyday—and they are incredibly easy to prepare. Babies can dip a toast soldier into a boiled egg, eat scrambled eggs, or nosh on omelet strips."
Moms know that kids love snacks like cucumbers, carrot sticks, and celery sticks — especially if there is some dip nearby. And as you can guess, cucumbers are good for baby-led weaning as well.
According to Belly Belly, cucumbers have two uses: they're simple for babies to eat, and can also be good if babies are in the midst of teething.
The publication suggests, "Cut the cucumber into big chips, and let your baby explore the various textures that it has to offer. Cucumbers that have been kept in the fridge can also offer much-needed relief for teething babies, as they act as a cool compress on sore gums."
Can babies only eat foods like fruits and vegetables, but nothing that most moms make for dinner? False!
As Annabel Karmel writes, "You may also want to offer your baby the same meals eaten by the rest of the family. This is fine, providing you keep a close eye on potential allergens and limit the addition of salt and sugar, especially if using ready-made ingredients, such as pasta sauces."
She suggests giving babies some pasta that everyone else is having for dinner. We love the sound of this since it's easy to make the same meal for everyone. How cute will our little ones look eating pasta?!
5. Ground Beef Casseroles
The Bump makes this recommendation for baby-led weaning foods: ground beef casserole. Now, this sounds like a simple creation!
Casseroles definitely make a lot of sense when it comes to dinner. Ground beef is soft and easy to eat, it's also very comforting. Many of us would agree that we even enjoy casseroles with ground beef in them. This is also a good idea since moms can make these for the whole family. Since everyone is so busy these days, it's a good way to be efficient and serve everyone some delicious dinner in a timely matter.
READ MORE: Is Your Baby Eating Too Much or Too Little?
4. Chicken And Fish
We know that babies can eat vegetables and fruit as part of their baby-led weaning experience (along with some pasta), but what about other types of protein? What about chicken and fish?
Annabel Karmel says that it's okay to have babies eat chicken and fish as part of their foods for baby-led weaning. As long as the meat has been cut up into super small pieces, a baby should do fine with this.
Moms will probably be happy to hear this since it's nice to make dinners that everyone can enjoy together, including the littlest ones in the family. Sure, a baby isn't going to eat that much of this protein, but it's good for them to start learning how to eat.
Considering we mash the fruit for babies to eat before they have teeth, eating fruits like blueberries should be safe for them to eat, right?
Belly Belly suggests starting with blueberries because they can help with a really important part of baby-led weaning: a baby learning how to use their hands. The publication says, "Once you are ready to start introducing fruits, blueberries are a great option. Slightly bigger than peas, these will be a little easier for your baby to pick up, but will still help to develop your baby’s fine motor skills and dexterity."
Belly Belly also mentions that after a mom tries this out, she might notice that her baby has blue or purple poop. But have no fear, it's totally common.
READ MORE: 20 Dos And Don’ts Of Weaning The Baby
We all love avocados. How can a soul turn down guac and chips!? Not only are they delicious but they're extra nutritious, as well.
It's interesting to note that avocados are great for baby-led weaning, so we can turn our sweet babies into little avocado fans.
Belly Belly says, "This food could have been designed specifically for baby led weaning. The softness makes it a great first food even for babies who don’t yet have teeth, and the firmness means it lends itself well to being gripped by small hands. Avocados are full of good fats, which are really important for brain development in young children, so it’s a good food to encourage your child to enjoy."
Kids love bananas. They are an awesome snack whether paired with a spoonful of peanut butter or made into a PB and banana sandwich (which is something that many of us might have eaten regularly as children). Bananas are sweet and easy to eat — they also have a place in baby-led weaning.
Parents.com says that bananas are among the fruits that babies can eat while baby-led weaning is happening. The publication says, "Long, easy-to-grasp pieces of soft raw fruits like banana, peaches, very ripe pears, melon, avocado, and strawberries are a great option for baby-led weaning first foods."