Food for BLW: Your Guide to Baby-Led Weaning Recipes

If you’re looking for new baby-led weaning recipes to try (pancakes! muffins! pasta!), you’ve come to the right place.
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By Natalie Gontcharova, Senior Editor
Updated July 11, 2023
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Baby-led weaning can seem daunting at first. When baby is ready to start solids, you might wonder: What is the best food for baby-led weaning? And what are the appropriate options by age? The good news is, there are plenty of fun baby-led weaning recipes that can make your journey much easier.

Baby-led weaning recipes are all about including baby in your family’s meals and sharing the foods you already love to eat. “When babies are served the family meal, they’re more likely to eat those foods as toddlers and beyond,” says Kary Rappaport, MS, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, a pediatric occupational therapist and senior feeding therapist at Solid Starts. “But when we start off with separate meals, it sets up the expectation that the child should always have something different—a special ‘kid’ meal, which not only reinforces picky eating, but creates extra work for the caregiver.”

Ready to give it a go? Read on to learn more, and check out some baby-led weaning recipes the whole family can enjoy.

BLW: What Is Baby-Led Weaning?

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is a way of introducing baby to solid foods that allows them to self-feed and explore finger foods, skipping the more traditional purees and spoon-feeding, notes Solid Starts. Baby-led weaning emphasizes including baby in family meals and following their cues.

What Is the Best Food for BLW?

When choosing the best food for baby-led weaning, “we want to select [options] that are dense in the nutrients babies need the most, easy for baby to hold and manipulate in the mouth and low-risk in terms of choking,” says Rappaport. Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RDN, a registered dietitian and the founder of Kids Eat in Color, recommends focusing on foods rich in protein, fat and iron.

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First BLW foods

Some favorite first baby-led weaning foods include:

  • Mango pit: For babies 6 to 9 months, you can serve it whole, peeled and with most of the flesh removed as a great “resistive” food and a low-risk way to build oral motor skills, according to Solid Starts.
  • Avocado: For first-time eaters, you can offer large halves of avocado, large and thick spears of ripe avocado, or mash the flesh and serve it on a preloaded spoon.
  • Chicken drumstick: You can serve a whole drumstick with the skin and any loose cartilage, bones and fat removed. “Babies love to pick up and munch on drumsticks—and it’s fantastic for oral-motor skills,” says Solid Starts. Their innate reflexes will help them push the food forward and spit it out before it gets far back enough to cause choking.
  • Omelet strips: Cutting a well-cooked omelet into strips makes it easier for baby to hold and eat eggs independently.
  • Broccoli: “Choose broccoli florets large enough for baby to grab. Toss them with olive oil and any spices that your family enjoys on roasted veggies (omit salt for baby). Put them on a sheet pan and cover with foil,” says Anderson.
  • Mashed or soft-cooked beans: Beans are an iron-rich food, which is super-important for baby, says Anderson. You can serve them in chili—or with a quesadilla.
  • Iron-fortified oatmeal: Oatmeal is also high in iron. You can try serving it with crushed nuts or smooth nut butter.

BLW foods by age

Curious about the best baby-led weaning foods for your little one’s age group? Jenny Best, founder and CEO of Solid Starts, says that starting at 6 months, “nearly every food in the world” can be adapted to be safe for babies. So it’s best to focus on how to cut and serve foods for your child’s age versus what they can and can’t have. “The notion that babies can’t have certain foods until certain ages is rooted in the corporate invention of staged baby food,” adds Best.

Anderson agrees: “Safely prepared, most foods can be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids,” she says. “Families also shouldn’t delay introducing common allergens such as peanut butter or eggs. Include them in your child’s diet early in the eating process.”

Foods to Avoid for BLW

For babies under 12 months, Anderson advises avoiding the following types of food for baby-led weaning:

  • Choking hazards, including whole-kernel corn, whole grapes and grape tomatoes, uncooked dry fruit, fish with bones, hot dogs, chips, pretzels, whole nuts, seeds and hard candy
  • Honey, due to the concern about infant botulism
  • Cow’s milk
  • Unpasteurized dairy
  • Raw or undercooked fish
  • High-mercury fish
  • High-sodium foods
  • Limit juice and added sugars “as much as is possible and practical” before the age of 2

Easy BLW Recipes to Try

If you’re ready to venture beyond basic finger foods for baby, here are some easy, fun baby-led weaning recipes to try.

Image: Courtesy of Solid Starts

BLW pancakes

The internet is chock-full of baby-led weaning recipes—and there are tons of pancake options to choose from. Solid Starts’ Buttermilk Pancakes for Baby & Me is pretty simple.

You’ll need:

  • 4 tbl. unsalted butter
  • 2 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs (you can also sub mashed banana or flaxseed “egg”)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ cup heavy cream (or applesauce)


  • Melt half of your butter, and pour it into a mixing bowl
  • Let it cool slightly, then whisk in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla
  • Whisk the flour and baking powder in a separate, larger mixing bowl
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking to combine. (Solid Starts says lumps are okay)
  • Warm the remaining butter in a large skillet set on medium heat. When the butter is done foaming, add a spoonful of batter (about 2 tbl.), and use the back of the spoon to gently flatten the batter into a round pancake
  • Sprinkle a few chopped berries on top
  • Repeat, making sure not to overcrowd the skillet with pancakes
  • Cook until the bottoms are golden, about three minutes
  • Flip the pancakes, then cook until the other side starts to brown
  • Transfer the pancakes to a plate, and repeat until you’ve used up all the batter
  • Whip the heavy cream, then add a dollop or two to the plate

BLW muffins

The recipe for these zucchini-cornbread muffins comes from Cinthia Scott, RD, IBCLC, a pediatric registered dietitian and founder of The Baby Dietitian. It makes 15 mini muffins or nine regular muffins.

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup flour (all-purpose or gluten-free)
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (squeezed dry)
  • ½ cup mozzarella or cheddar cheese (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda
  • Whisk egg, milk and oil in a separate bowl, then add them to the dry ingredients along with zucchini and cheese (optional) and mix until just combined
  • Scoop the batter into muffin tins and bake for 15 to 20 minutes for mini muffins or 20 to 25 minutes for regular-sized muffins
  • Check to see if the muffins are fully cooked by inserting a toothpick
Image: Courtesy of Solid Starts

BLW oatmeal

This “purple oatmeal” recipe from Solid Starts only requires two ingredients.

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup dry instant oats


  • Wash the blueberries and remove any stems
  • Combine the blueberries, oats and one cup of water in a small pot or microwave-safe bowl. (If you like, you can swap water for milk once it has been safely introduced to baby)
  • Cover and bring the mixture to a boil, about one minute in the microwave or three minutes on the stovetop
  • Remove oatmeal from the heat, then keep it covered while it rests for five minutes
  • Uncover, mash the berries and cool
  • Before serving, make sure to pick out any large pieces of blueberry skin

BLW waffles

Also from The Baby Dietitian, this spinach-banana nut blender baby-led weaning waffle recipe makes about eight mini waffles.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large handful fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats or quick oats (sub gluten-free, as needed)
  • 2 ripe bananas (peeled)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbl. peanut butter (or another nut butter of your choice)
  • ¼ cup of milk of your choice
  • 1 tsp. baking powder


  • Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth
  • Heat a mini waffle iron, then spray with nonstick spray and scoop two tablespoons onto the griddle
  • Cook for two to three minutes, or until lightly golden brown
Image: Courtesy of Solid Starts

BLW pasta

Both parents and baby will love this simple baby-led weaning pasta recipe from Solid Starts.

You’ll need:

  • 2 oz. rigatoni
  • 2 tbl. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. black pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbl. grated parmesan cheese (optional for 12+ months)


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add pasta to the boiling water
  • Cook until the rigatoni is tender (10 to 15 minutes)
  • Drain, and toss the rigatoni with butter and black pepper

Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RDN, is a registered dietitian and the founder of Kids Eat in Color, an authoritative resource that helps families feed their children. She earned her MSPH from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

Jenny Best is the founder and CEO of Solid Starts, a team of experts that helps parents introduce real food to babies and prevent picky eating. Previously, she led communications at various food nonprofits, worked in the New York City government and danced with the New York City Ballet.

Kary Rappaport, MS, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, is the senior feeding therapist at Solid Starts. She is a pediatric occupational therapist, feeding and swallowing specialist and an international board-certified lactation consultant.

Cinthia Scott, RD, IBCLC, is a pediatric registered dietitian, international board-certified lactation consultant and the founder of The Baby Dietitian, which provides resources on breastfeeding and starting solids for babies and toddlers.

Solid Starts, What Is Baby-Led Weaning?

Solid Starts, Mango

Solid Starts, Avocado

Solid Starts, Chicken

Solid Starts, Egg

Kids Eat in Color, Iron-Rich Foods for Babies, Toddlers & Kids (Plus, 50 Meal & Snack Ideas), February 2022

Solid Starts, Blueberries

Solid Starts, Pasta

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