Let's get into the basics of baby-led weaning! Most parents are unsure about how to actually give their babies food when at this stage. So, if you want to know how to cut food safely for baby-led weaning, this blog is for you! 🧐
A bit of advice if you aren't sure if this method is right for you and your baby - Let me assure you that Baby-led weaning is a safe technique, as long as parents know how to prepare the food appropriately for their baby's stage of development. That's where we come in; we've put together this guide for parents who are curious about the baby-led method but are equally worried about their baby's safety (which is totally normal!). We will gear you up with all you need to know, so have no fear; Mamamade is here! 🙌🏼 (I like what I did there 😉)
All you have to do is follow these simple steps when cooking and cutting your baby's food, It'll take a bit of trial and error at first, but you'll be mastering baby-led weaning in no time!
This blog does come with a safety note: Baby-led weaning is unsuitable for babies before six months, as there is an increased risk of choking. If you've been advised to start weaning earlier than six months, then it's best to start on smooth purees before moving onto finger foods. Always remember to stay close and supervise your baby when eating at all times.
HOW DO YOU CUT FOOD FOR BABIES AROUND 6 MONTHS OLD?
The goal initially is to make sure your baby can easily pick up and grasp the food in front of them. Did you know - most babies just starting solids wouldn't have developed their pincer grip (That's when you pinch food between your thumb and forefinger), and without this skill, your baby would struggle to pick up small pieces of food. 🤚🏼
In the meantime, let's work our way backwards; let's start by introducing your baby to foods that they'll pick up with their whole palm (called the palmar grasp) and then slowly introduce smaller pieces depending on how well they get on. When starting, It's important for food to be cut into long, thin strips; this will help your baby access the food while it's in their palm. Top tip - imagine the food slices being about the size of 1-2 adult-sized fingers; this style of cutting will teach your baby to grasp the food in their hands while moving it towards their mouth.
Foods that will help your baby develop their picking up and eating skills at the start of their baby-led weaning journey are steamed carrot stick, never raw - remember to wash thoroughly, cut and steam! Avocado slices, steamed sweet potato slices, steamed broccoli florets, mango strips and bananas chopped in half. The last two can sometimes be tricky to grasp, but your baby will love the challenge. Also, try different textures for your baby to explore; my go-to would be grated carrots, apples and cheese. 🍎
At this stage of weaning, when preparing your little ones food, make sure that the food offered is soft enough to squish with gentle pressure from your thumb and forefinger. So hard, raw fruits and vegs like carrots and apples aren't a good or safe idea at the moment. 🙈 It's always good to think a few steps ahead, avoid choking hazards, such as whole grapes, cherries, cherry tomatoes and whole nuts. These options are way too small for your little ones to hold on to and control. If you still want them to taste the goodness, try peanut butter instead, mashed alternatives or jams!
HOW DO I CUT FOOD FOR BABIES AROUND 8-10 MONTHS OLD?
As your baby gets a little older and develops their pincer grip, you can start experimenting with cutting foods into smaller pieces 🎉 It's important to remember that every baby develops at their own rate; it's nothing that you have done if they aren't ready yet. Just take it a meal at a time and observing your baby, keep an eye on what they can handle and go with their flow 👀 It could be that they need larger chunks, or they may have no problem picking up peas off their plate!
Great foods to introduce at this stage are halved grapes, cooked and squished peas, smashed blueberries and steamed carrot sticks. You can also introduce cooked penne or fusilli pasta and chopped hard-boiled eggs. The rules are somewhat still the same, your baby's food should still be soft and easily smashed, and it's usually best to steam or boil vegetables instead of roasting them.
At this stage, you can encourage independent eating by starting to offer a spoon and letting your baby use it to feed themselves. Be warned it will get very messy, so make sure you have your cleaning essentials to hand 😅
MY BABY IS HARDLY EATING; WHAT CAN I DO?
Like I mentioned above, every baby is different, and some will eat far more than others - it's totally normal!
Learning to eat is about discovery and awakening the senses at this stage, so try not to worry about filling your little one's tummy! Most baby nutritionists state that up until 12 months, milk should be their primary source of nutrition. I know it's easier said than done but try not to worry about the quantity of food their eating and focus on variety, exposure and adventure to a range of flavours and textures.
At Mamamade, we support all parents in choosing whatever weaning method works best for them. This guide has been put together to help parents who wish to follow the baby-led weaning method understand how to do so safely. We are not suggesting baby-led weaning is better than traditional weaning or vice-versa!
At Mamamade, we offer 35 different varieties of food, including finger foods, breakfast bowls, purees and plant-based mixes. So take some time to look through them all and try your first box of organic baby food today.
And if you need some on-the-go advice, why not check out episode 3 of The Mamamade Podcast - Your Weaning Worries Answered - Allergens, Gagging & Choking! With Dr Shruti Nathwani! This episode is full of informative tips, tricks and recommendations that we parents should all be aware of. Think of it as a mini-crash course on weaning safety. We can feel really overwhelmed when it comes to introducing solids, especially when we consider the possibility of allergens coming into play or even the techniques to use or avoid for safe weaning in reference to gagging and choking. Plus, not to mention the types of food to give your little one the amounts and the timing that's perfect for them. If you've been a little unsure about these questions, this episode is for you! Because we're diving into the discussions of allergens, choking and general weaning safety with an expert Paediatric doctor. Shruti also talks about her personal journey with allergens with her son and the day-to-day techniques that she uses to minimise mealtime risk whilst still upholding a positive weaning experience.
I hope this helps! Please send us a message if you have any questions or if you just want to have a chat.
We’re so glad you found our article helpful! This is a common worry for many parents starting their weaning journey, but let me reassure you that babies have gag reflexes for a reason. A gag reflex is highly sensitive and is usually centred very close to the front of their mouths. This helps them not push foods too far into their mouths as they would automatically push the food back out. We have the perfect podcast episode for this “Episode 3. Your Weaning Worries Answered – Allergens, Gagging & Choking With Dr Shruti Nathwani”
✨ Listen on Apple Podcasts – https://apple.co/3IzJVdx
✨ Tune in on Spotify – https://spoti.fi/36Ifl4i
Or you can read our blog about “Gagging vs Choking – The Differences You Need To Know”. We hope this helps, and good luck on your weaning journey 💜
Thanks for the helpful article! My worry is that my baby will bite off too much of his finger food and choke, as they are long thin pieces so could be pushed quite far into his mouth. Do you have any advice around this? Do babies do this? So far I’ve only been brave enough to offer him small banana pieces and melty puffs – I really want to stop feeding him crisps!! Thanks! :)