How to Combine Baby-Led Weaning with Purees

Hi friends! How’s the day going?

So this has been a common request over here on the family page since we combined baby-led weaning with purees for both of our kiddos, and it worked out well. As always, talk with you pediatrician to help determine the best feeding strategy for your family. Most pediatricians will suggest introducing solid foods around 6 months, when baby can sit up upright on their own. Some start a little earlier, and some wait longer. Do what’s best for you, and what your doctor suggests, k?

So for Liv, I had read a lot about the benefits of baby-led weaning. If you’re newer to the concept just like I was at the time, baby-led weaning (or BLW) involves giving the baby soft foods that they can hold onto and chew (like a piece of steamed sweet potato, banana or avocado). They bite off the appropriate amount. the term “weaning” doesn’t mean that you’re weaning them off of breastmilk or formula; instead, you’re adding solid foods into the mix.

I bought a baby led weaning how-to book, and basically it said, “Give you baby soft food they can hold, and let them bite it.” Aka it was a waste of $12. 

Why I Like Baby-Led Weaning:

-The baby gets to decide how much to eat, and what they want to eat, when offered a plate of various soft foods. This is different than spoon-feeding, because they have more control over their eating experience. While they might not *eat* a lot of the food at first, they’re able to explore tastes and textures. They might just hold the food, or lick it, but they’re being exposed to different tastes while improving their fine motor skills (picking up the food) and oral motor skills (actually chewing, swallowing).

-It’s EASY. While I love making purees, it’s super easy just to give a baby a bland, soft variation of what you may be eating for dinner. 

MY OTHER VIDEOS

Why I Don’t Like Baby-Led Weaning:

-Gagging. While the gag reflex is a protective measure and helps the baby to learn his or her own limits, it still scares the sh*t out of me, especially with P’s reflux-induced choking incidents. Even though Liv didn’t have reflux, she definitely gagged when we tried certain solids with her. I feel like with purees, there isn’t nearly as much gagging; either they swallow it, or spit it out. 

-It’s pretty messy. While babies are good at making a mess, this can take it to the next level, especially with more liquid-y foods like applesauce or yogurt. Baby-led weaning suggests giving the baby the spoon and help teaching them how to eat, but yes, this means applesauce in their hair and all over the floor. We’ve been using way more Honest mopping pads than usual.  

How We Combined Baby-Led Weaning with More Traditional Purees:

(please keep in mind I am NOT telling you how to feed your baby. That is up to you with the advice of your pediatrician. Every family and baby is different. It’s up to us to make the best choices for our unique families, babies, and needs.)

Initially we offer super soft foods, but in sizes that wouldn’t alarm me as a choking hazard. With baby-led weaning, they suggest giving a baby a piece of banana and letting them bite off pieces. P take enormous bites, so that didn’t work initially. She’d end up gagging and spitting it up. So I roughly diced the banana, and it was a little slippery, but she made it work. These pieces were extremely small; nothing that a swig of water wouldn’t be able to wash down.

Combining Baby-Led Weaning with Purees

Some favorites:

(I separated these into the stages we offered each food)

Stage 1: Around 7-8 months

Scrambled egg yolks (later, the whole egg, scrambled)

Avocado (I would give her the larger pieces of avocado because she took more reasonable bites)

Sweet potato

Regular potato

Banana

Steamed zucchini, peeled and diced (again, super small pieces)

Stage 2: Much later, after chewing and swallowing skins were established

Blueberries, cut into quarters (later, cut into halves)

Peeled beans, cut in half (later, leaving the peel on and cutting them in half, until finally she was ready for regular beans)

Grapes, peeled and diced (later, cut into quarters)

Strawberries, diced

Salmon, plain, baked and diced

Mango, diced

Steamed butternut squash, peeled and diced

Steamed carrots, peeled and diced

Apples, peeled, steamed and diced

Steamed peas, whole

Ground turkey

Steamed broccoli florets, diced

Stage 3:

Bread pieces with butter

Chicken

Rice

Pasta

We have always initially offered each kiddo options on their high chair according to what stage they were in, and then offered purees towards the end of the meal. We use the organic ones from target, homemade, or oatmeal pureed with steamed apples or a fruit pouch.

Transition slowly

Feeding our girls continues to be one of my very favorite things. The snuggles of breastfeeding or a morning bottle, the grunts of satisfaction while gulping a handful of berries, or in Liv’s case now, sharing a huge bowl of pho. A comforting aspect of introducing solids is that it’s not meant to be their sole form of nutrition; breastmilk or formula does all of that for you! So the solid foods are more for fun and as a teaching opportunity. If they eat, great, but if not, you know they’ll be getting breast or bottle later for their real nutrition. 

So, tell me friends: did you do the baby-led weaning thing or stick to purees? What is your kid’s absolute favorite food? I feel like it changes all the time, but right now Liv is really into bagels with cream cheese, and P goes crazy for avocado.

xoxo

Gina

More baby food posts here:

My favorite homemade purees round 1

Favorite homemade purees round 2

Baby recipes 6 months – 1 year

Preschool snacks

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23 Comments

  1. Heather @Lun on November 11, 2016 at 6:58 am

    This like exactly what we did. I started with BLW and the gagging was so hard to watch so we stepped back for a few weeks and did purees. We then reintroduced things but in a smaller manner. I didn’t like the “give big pieces” thing because A would just gag. If I cut things up and she could pick up one and eat it, we were good. She still gets pouches, though. I like the idea they have food in front of them and can choose what to eat while we eat, haha. Purees were hard to feed her and then make sure we were actually eating. lots of cold foods! I think A’s favorite food is pizza, lol.

  2. Cassie on November 11, 2016 at 8:12 am

    We did purees until about 10 months when little miss flatly refused to be spoon fed anymore.

    • Fitnessista on November 11, 2016 at 10:22 pm

      it’s funny how they decide!

  3. Andrea on November 11, 2016 at 10:59 am

    My babe is 8 months corrected. I had no intentions of doing BLW but she sort of chose it for herself. Since starting at 6 months she’s flat out refused purees of any kind and still does refuse them most of the time. I’ve tried store-bought, homemade, fruit, cereal, veggies, meats, combos, letting her feed herself, using my finger as a spoon … etc. No dice. The only puree she’ll open her mouth for is homemade carrots (random, I know). Otherwise it’s a scream fest, spitting, mouth clenched, head turned, spoon throwing, sort of deal. So after a month of no luck with purees I started with solid foods and she LOVES them! I’m pretty adventurous. I give her anything (except honey or straight cows milk) and just supervise her closely. She’s never choked and yes she gags sometimes but it doesn’t scare me. I cut up food so it’s too big for her to swallow and she holds it and gums it/sucks on it. Her favourites are bread, raw green beans, slices of cucumber, slices of apple, pizza crust, and cheese. Oh and she still nurses about 10929292 times a day, with a random bottle of formula thrown in there every now and then when I want/need a break.

    • Fitnessista on November 11, 2016 at 10:20 pm

      it’s funny how the baby really decides how they want to do it. it’s always fun to watch them explore and see what they enjoy!

  4. Valerie on November 11, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    I am not a mom, but love reading about your family. So my takeaway from all of this…you peeled beans and grapes?! That’s some strong momma love and patience right there! LOL! Hope you are having a wonderful day, and Happy Birthday weekend!

    • Fitnessista on November 11, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      hahaha! this is weird, but i’ve always been oddly good at using my fingernails to peel tape off things and untie knots, so it’s not too tough
      thank you so much for the bday wishes!

  5. Kara on November 11, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    That was my thought too- how do you peel grapes and beans??? We aren’t quite there yet (5months old) & I’m totally uninformed, but how do you puree? I just received a food processor as a gift, but I’m wondering if I need something different like a vitamix? Or do I just need a blender?

    • Fitnessista on November 11, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      i just use my fingers- you get the hang of it really fast
      to puree, i just add a little water. the vitamix makes it super smooth, but you could use any blender

    • Andrea on November 12, 2016 at 4:32 am

      Hi! You can totally use any old blender .. just cook the food however you wish (boil, steam, bake, whatever) and then mix the food with a little water like Gina said, and then use whatever you have to puree it. You could use a regular blender, a handheld immersion blender, a food processor, a mini chopper, a vitamix, or any other appliance that squishes up food … lol. I’ve even used a hand held potato masher in a pinch (for my older baby who was used to a bit of a thicker texture).

  6. Bethany on November 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Love this! My LO has just turned 7 months. He has be exclusively breastfed and we started purees a week before he turned 6 months. He is only up to 2 ‘meals’ a day with solids. I think anymore at this point for him would decrease his milk intake. I too wasted $15 on a BLW book. I love this idea but as you said it is wayyyy scary! I have also done a mixture of the two. He does great with steamed carrots cut up like fries and bites bananas well…..o the ganging though! He has even left a big piece in his mouth. Luckily I saw it as I was taking him out of his high chair. I leave a lot of the purees thick and chunky. I am trying to introduce flavor and textures really on. Yesterday he had sweet potatoes with curry seasoning and loved it. Cinnamon is also a favorite of his.

    Any good resources for sizes of BLW for ages? I am a first time mom, living in a different country, and the hubs is away sooo I have feel like I have to be extra careful. The pressure yo!

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      i wish i had more resources to share! i think brittany at healthy slice of life has some posts about it. it’s really trial and error, but the gagging always freaks me out
      xoxo

  7. Lauren on January 11, 2017 at 9:19 am

    My baby is almost 10 months and has the worst gag reflex. Gags anytime a chunk touches his tongue. Even gags with mum mums… I’ve started to make his purées thicker in hopes that helps.. he starts daycare in 2 months and it would be great if he was off purées. He also doesn’t seem to have the pincher grab figured out yet… any tips?

    • Fitnessista on January 11, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      i would keep offering it and waiting. he’ll get the hang of it!

  8. Caitlin on February 23, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I love this! I did all purees for the first few months with my son because I was so nervous about choking, but he’s such a picky eater now as a toddler. My baby girl is 6 months next week! We haven’t tried any solids yet but I’m thinking about trying a combo of both just for ease, and since I’m a lot more easy going this time around 🙂

  9. Sujei on April 3, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Hi my son is 15 month has down syndrom and he has feeding therapy cause he has reflux and gags a lot so it’s scares me when I see him gagging so I still puree all his food … for the first 5 min we practice with some solids but I have to put it in his mouth cause he doesn’t have the coordination to move his food to the sides..

  10. Jones on May 23, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Why on earth would you suggest to dice the food, especially for a purée trained baby?! That poses a huge choking hazard.

    Purée babies learned to swallow first before chewing. Whereas BLW babies learn to chew first before swallowing. To switch over a purée baby to BLW with dice food is a hazard.

    I Think you should edit your post

    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2017 at 4:39 am

      I didn’t switch her, and it wasn’t a hazard. Please read the first few paragraphs of this post. It worked well for us but I recommend that everyone talks to their pediatrician to determine the best feeding strategy for their child.

  11. Anonymous on May 24, 2017 at 11:02 am

    This isn’t dangerous and isn’t blw at all. Any parent listening to you about this needs to do their research. You’re going to cause a baby to choke by giving this kind of advice!

    • Anonymous on May 24, 2017 at 11:02 am

      This *is dangerous

    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      I’m not giving advice. I’m sharing my experience. My advice is to talk to your pediatrician and do what works for your family. I’m not really sure why people are jumping all over an older post?

  12. Mo on June 23, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Our babygirl is 7 months now and on solids til 5 months. We make blw all the possible way and it’s perfect. As soon as she started being interested in food, we placed food in front of her, never leaving her alone with it, always watching. Cooked, raw, diced or not, big smal…everything. it would take too long to share it because it is so much an in so many different forms. Well, everything you let your child do her/himself can be dangerous with the wrong person taking care of the child..instead of blaming the autor who is someone who treats a baby like a human than can develop much better from learning-by-doing, switch on your own brain and think about the WAY she’s doing things. You ALWAYS have to be careful when having a baby.
    And some of you seem to forget that it is not logical and no natural to be fed (except nursing) or e fed purees or to learn chewing later than swallowing solids. Thats the wrong way our civilization treats babies. The puree-thing occured out of convenience, forced replacing of nursing step by step to get rid of it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, and wrong weight gain strategies. Whoever has faith and trust in humanity should be able to leave some freedom of experience to a baby and have enough patience for that.

  13. Stephanie on October 2, 2017 at 6:11 am

    I really enjoyed reading and appreciate your experiences that you shared!! Thank you!

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