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Baby Led Weaning

Janel F.
JANEL F.
Registered Dietitian
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If you are wondering what baby led weaning is or if you are ready to skip purees and go straight to finger foods, this is the perfect Q&A for you. Registered Dietitian, Janel F., can answer your questions on which foods to try first and how to make sure your baby is still getting the nutrients she needs.

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JANEL ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Food size
KARISA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

My baby is 9 Months old. She loves to feed herself and is now showing more interest in that than in the pureed food. If I give her the puffs she will eat those whole of course missing her mouth sometimes, But if I give her cut up fruit or veggies the size of the puff she’ll gag and make herself throw up then if I cut them any smaller she can’t get any at all in her mouth and just seems to rub them all over her face! Is there a happy medium I just haven’t found yet??

Janel
JANEL

Hi Karisa,

Yes - there IS a happy medium! With Baby Led Weaning (which it sounds like you're doing a form of since your baby doesn't love purees) you want to provide soft, grab-able pieces of food, so your little one can hold the food and gnaw at it without putting the whole thing in her mouth, or not quite having the pincer grasp yet to pick the food up. Something like banana cut into long strips, cooked broccoli where she can hold the stalk, steamed carrots cut into strips, roasted potatoes cut into strips, etc. Basically a long strip of food that your daughter can hold in her hand like a stick. Hope that helps!

Janel

JANEL ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Finger foods
MEGHA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

Hi there, my almost 10 month old loves eating! He still has about 24-28 ounces of formula a day (bedtime bottle he usually doesn’t finish - not sure why) and he has about 4 ounces of fruit/oatmeal combo or mini pancakes or 1 French toast sticks with a fruit purée for breakfast, 4 ounces of a grain lentil veggie meat combo of sorts for lunch, and then a late afternoon snack which is usually a steamed or soft fruit or veggie. He drinks maybe 2-4 ounces of water and in occasion has rice cake crackers or puffs as a snack.
My guess is he’s full by the bedtime bottle - but is the food quantity too much? And in one meal how many baby carrots or fruit slices is enough?

Janel
JANEL

Hi Megha, this all sounds great! Letting your baby be the guide for how much he wants to eat and when he's had enough is best, as your baby knows how hungry/satisfied he is better than anyone! So you can always start small (like with a couple fruit slices) and if he seems hungry still, add more so you're not wasting food if you prepare too much up front. Be careful not to make the snacks so large that he's not hungry for dinner. Are you providing a dinner at this point? By about a year, most babies are transitioning to whole milk, and 16-20oz/day so you may find yourself gradually decreasing his formula intake as well. Here's a great example of a meal plan for up to 12mo for you to refer to; https://happyfamilybrands.com/blog/yogurt/12-months-meal-plan/

Janel

MEGHA

Awesome thank you!
Right now he doesn’t really get a third meal all the time because well he won’t drink his milk.... should I focus on 3 meals breakfast lunch dinner and then if he doesn’t drink his milk it’s fine??

So wake, bottle - then an hour later breakfast.
First nap, have a bottle, then an hour later lunch
Second nap, bottle, then maybe 2 hours later have dinner, with a small bedtime bottle?

How does it work with whole milk? Just swap formula for that? Or is there a “wean” process to swap?

Janel
JANEL

Ideally he's eating 3 family meals by age 1, so maybe you could eliminate the afternoon snack for now and focus on breakfast, lunch and dinner? It's also important to keep in mind that "under 1, just for fun!" meaning that under the age of 1, milk/formula is still the primary source of calories/nutrients, so it's important that he's still consuming enough of his milk, even if it means scaling back on the amount of solids he gets at one meal.

Some babies swap from formula to cow's milk instantly without issue! Others it takes more of a gradual shift. You can try doing formula:milk at different ratios in each bottle for a few days, starting with 75:25, 50:50, then 25:75, etc. to get him used to the different taste.

MEGHA

You mean like mixing it? Got it!

Also - my son is an early riser so we are working on shifting his sleep. Once we do that (hopefully in the next couple weeks) he’ll be sleeping from 7p-6a instead of 6p-5a. The 6p-5a makes it hard for him to have a “dinner” meal so it’s more a heavy snack at 3:30 and a bottle for dinner at 5:30p.

Right now he gets the three meals that mimic the b/L/d meals totally about 8 oz a day but still gets about 24-28 ounces of formula a day.

Does that sound ok?

Janel
JANEL

Yes you can absolutely mix milk with formula to gradually introduce it.

And what you're doing sounds great. You may find this feeding guide helpful: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/pediatrics/feeding_guide_for_the_first_year_90,P02209

JANEL ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Food Prep
DANI

How should I prepare veggies for a 8 month old? I can get them mushy with boiling but I'm worried that I'm losing the nutrients. Is steaming better?

Janel
JANEL

Hi Dani,

You're absolutely right about boiling - when we boil veggies, some of the nutrients leech into the water, which we end up discarding. Steaming or roasting are great options to soften veggies for your baby. However, even with boiling, you're not losing ALL nutrients, so boiled veggies are better than no veggies at all!

Janel