Vegan Baby Led Weaning
My favorite tips, tricks, and resources to help all my parents out there on their Vegan Baby Led Weaning Journey!
I will cover how to know when your babe is ready, the safety precautions, what to start with, what to avoid, tips from one mom to another, and my absolute favorite products to help you out on this journey.
What Is Baby Led Weaning?
The term Baby Led Weaning came from Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett in their book titled Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods. According to the authors, baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing SOLID foods and allowing the baby to self-feed themselves instead of living off of purees. Parents are asked to trust their child and not to force feed. This is not a weaning off of breast milk or formula, but an extension of. The point is to wean your child onto solids while also supplementing with breast milk or formula. The concept is this: The baby is in charge!
Baby Led Weaned babies are encouraged to join the dinner table and self-feed themselves the appropriate finger groups for their age and ability. Children choose what, how much, and how quickly they will eat (patience is a virtue here). There is a freedom to explore new tastes and textures without the pureed foods.
Signs that your child is ready
Experts believe that baby-led weaning should only be started only when the child is ready. This is typically between 6-9 months of age. My sons were not ready until 7.5 months. It is very important to observe your child and check off everything on the list before starting.
Your child can sit up without support
Has lost the tongue thrust reflex; he has stopped pushing food out of the mouth with the tongue
Their fine motor skills have developed in order for them to self feed
Putting food in their mouth using their pincer grasp, which is food between the thumb and forefinger
Your child is willing to eat even if he has a few teeth
Your child wants to participate during meal times and may even try to grab food from your plate and put it in his or her mouth
Is Baby-Led Weaning a Choking Hazard?
This is a common misconception about baby-led weaning. As long as your child has hit all of the steps above and the food is cooked and cut up into appropriate sizes, you should feel safe in trusting your child to eat by him or herself. If you give your baby bitesize amount of foods their gag reflexes are very much in working order so trust your baby to chew on something, and if it doesn’t feel good they will spit it out or in some cases, heave (which is not choking!). For information on Infant CPR, Click below!
First Foods for Baby Led Weaning!
You do not need much to get started with baby-led weaning. Just make sure your child is ready, you have a safe place for a child to sit (high-chair or your lap work great), and you have the following foods handy to give to your baby!
Pear (Peeled and, if not soft enough, steamed for a couple of minutes)
Carrot sticks, steamed for 8-10 minutes
Pumpkin, baked at 375F/190C for 90 minutes or until soft.
Brocolli, steamed for 8-10 minutes
Zucchini, sliced in half and steamed for 5-6 minutes
Apples, option to peel and cook to soften
Sweet potato sticks, baked at 375F/190C for 30 minutes
Green beans, skins removed
Watermelon, sliced into sticks with seeds removed
Oatmeal sticks: 1/4 mashed banana, 1/4 quick oats, 1/4 cup breast milk or plant milk, and dash of cinnamon. Heat quick in small pot or microwave for a couple of minutes. Let sit to cool and then slice into thin bars.
Beets, cooked until soft
Peaches/Pears/Plums/Melon, very ripe and cut into bite size pieces
Foods to Avoid
The following foods should be avoided for choking hazards and health reasons.
High-risk foods for choking: grape/cherry tomatoes, grapes, nuts, etc.
Allergic foods: This depends on each child and family history but just be aware of things like gluten, nuts, citrus, etc.
Added table salt, absolutely unnecessary
Added table sugar, unnecessary as well
Stimulants like chocolate or sugar
Unhealthy processed foods like chips, soda, popcorn, candy, sugary breakfast cereals, gum, etc.
Honey. If baking something, use agave or maple syrup.
Tips From Me
I was thrown head first into vegan baby-led weaning and somehow ended up with enough knowledge to share with you all (I’m laughing as I say this!). I have been through plate throwing, loads of laundry, disgusting floors, hair-pulling impatience, and more. I wish I had known these tips when I started!
Feed your child naked or in as little clothing as possible! I learned this the hard way. Baby-led weaning is SO messy and there is no way around this. Instead of fighting it, just embrace it. In late spring and summer, I had the boys eat outside naked. Extra bonus: They learned how their bowel movements worked which makes potty training much easier! (TMI? haha)
Reusable baby bibs!! I’m not talking about cloth here, I am talking about heavy duty bibs that you can wash in the sink and dry in between feedings. Stop the laundry madness. These are amazing!
Quality High Chair. We have old school high-chairs but I would highly recommend high chairs with a separate detachable tray for the child. After using a few, I found that the mess was much less and the boys were much more content.
Don’t feed them on an empty stomach! Breastfeed or formula feed up to an hour before eating so there is no hanger happening. Cranky babies do not want to eat.
Have zero expectations. I don’t care if your sister’s kid ate an entire plate of curry at 7 months old, this is your experience and you do not need to stress! Your child may not eat much at first, they may throw it, smash it, and do everything BUT eat. Trust the process and just keep the food available for your little one. Remember: Breast milk and formula are still the stars of the show, this is just learning how to eat!
Grab a book because this is going to take a while. When my sons first started their journey, it was about a 60-90 minute meal. I could not believe it! After a while, I just started to listen to audiobooks while they explored!
Don’t cut too small. Make sure the food is pincher friendly. Your child is not going to be able to pick up a teeny tiny bit of watermelon from the plate, make sure it is large enough for him or her to grab with confidence.
Keep it minimal and clean. This is to start of course haha. Only have 3 options on the high chair for the baby and no more than 5 of each. That is already too much in my opinion, but it depends on what the food is. Less is more here and you can always add more as they eat it! The more food that is on the tray, the more food that ends up on the floor.
My Must-Have Items to Stay Sane!