Making Meal Time Simple and Wholesome
Remember that your baby’s primary nutrient source is coming from milk feedings (when under the age of 1), and introducing solids can be more exploratory for them at this point. Allowing them the opportunity to taste different flavors, textures, etc. is foundational for them to explore their palate and be open to trying new foods. This can be possible through family meals and in sharing foods that you would normally prepare for the family that are also appropriate for baby.
Fruits and vegetables can be great foods from a family meal to share with your baby. Just be sure to offer foods that are in large enough chunks for baby to grasp and bring to her mouth. Some fruits and vegetables may be easier for baby to gnaw on, like washed/peeled apple or carrot slices. You can also offer softer fruits and veggies, such as bananas, avocados, steamed squash (be sure it is steamed to fork-tenderness), and more.
Starches served with family meals are typically appropriate for baby as well, depending on the food, For example, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, rice, cooked pasta, toasted bread, etc. can all be foods that are also shared with baby during a family meal. Proteins can also be shared with baby, as long as the texture is soft enough for them to mash with their gums, including cooked chicken, fish, eggs (yolk only under age 1), smooth nut butters, and more.
The beauty about baby-led weaning is that this process encourages you to feed your baby a range of foods.
Offering foods with different textures, shapes, flavors, etc, will give your baby the opportunities they need to practice their eating skills.
You can likely share what you have prepared for your family with your baby, provided the foods are manageable and appropriate for your baby. Soft, peeled and cooked fruits and vegetables, proteins, and grains can all be offered to your baby.
Foods should be firm enough for your baby to hold and pick up but soft enough to mash. Begin by offering one to two pieces of a couple different foods when introducing solids.
By making your primary goal to plan and prepare cohesive and balanced meals for your family, you will inadvertently have foods available that are appropriate to share with your baby as well. When thinking about family meals, structure your meals around the main macronutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Including a fruit and/or vegetable with meals can be an easy way to share with baby, as well as other mealtime basics, like starches and proteins.
Even though a self-feeding approach is encouraged with baby-led weaning, always be attentive to your child and aware of any potential choking hazards. Attempt to be in-tune with their feeding cues, learning to recognize when they are full or if they perhaps are needing more. Most of all, enjoy this time with your baby! Feeding baby alongside the rest of your family can be a simplified process that is enjoyable for everyone involved. Be prepared for some messiness and a whole lot of mealtime goodness.