As an alternative to spoon-fed puree, some families choose to start solids with family finger foods.

With the baby-led approach (often know as baby led solids or baby led weaning), parents decide what food to offer and baby decides what to eat, how much and how quickly.

Self-feeding is a skill that’s emerging when babies are able to sit up, grasp objects and chew (around six months for most) and taps into their natural curiosity to explore. If you are considering approaching solids this way it’s important to:

  • Wait until your baby is around 6 months of age before you start
  • Sit baby upright and well supported in a high chair
  • Offer soft, long, ‘chip-sized’ pieces of food baby can grasp
  • Let baby choose and self-feed – never give or put food into your baby’s mouth
  • Choose non-hungry times for meals with the family if possible
  • Lay a plastic sheet under the high chair and be prepared for mess.

What foods can I offer?

Most healthy family foods are OK to share with your baby. Soft ripe or cooked hard fruits and vegetables, meat strips, cheese batons, omelette slices, bread or toast, rice, pasta and fish; anything that can be presented in pieces large enough for baby to grasp.

Won’t my baby choke?

Supervising your baby’s meal is important to prevent choking. By providing your baby with soft foods they can grasp, and never putting food in their mouth for them, your little one will be able to control the pace at which they progress with food and be less likely to choke. If your baby gags, stay calm and give them time to clear their food on their own. Gently scoop food from their mouth with a finger if they are unable to do this.

If you’d like to learn more, speak to your healthcare professional or maternal health nurse and check out the Rafferty’s Garden recipe section for inspirational ideas.

Have you tried baby led solids? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES in the comments below. 

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  • With all my kids they started testing different flavours and textures at around 6mths.


  • You just have to do what is right for your family.


  • I stated with purées at 4 months and by 6 months gave a mixture of purées and finger food everyday. I have heard good things about baby lead weaning but I personally feel so much better knowing how much food my son is eating per meal.


  • Great tips thanks for sharing


  • A great guide. we went with purees for first bub but will definitely think about baby led weaning for number two!


  • We used a mixture of baby led weaning and puree’s


  • Thanks for sharing this article great read


  • My daughter started on soft foods like Farex at around 5 months because milk just wasn’t enough for her anymore. It was when she started on food that she began to sleep better.


  • The only thing that truly worries me about this write up is the suggestion to ‘scoop food out of choking with a finger’ this is both not advised by medical experts as you may inadvertently push food further down and not the current method being taught to parents to evacuate food from a babies throat!


  • We do baby led weaning, and I couldn’t imagine any other way, but this is a poor write up which skims over and doesn’t mention SO much about it. Please read up further if you are considering this approach.


  • I gave my son carrot sticks and slices of Apple to start with. They are easy for baby to hold and chew- just give them a 20 sec zap in the microwave to soften them a little


  • I let mu bubs eat rusks as a starter to solid food – they transistioned easily.


  • My move from milk to food was a long time ago now, but I was directed by my Maternal Health Nurse and my child in terms of when we should start, and what we should start on. I know there has been much debate then about the 4 month or 6 month age and still after 10 years, there seems to be no ideal case for or against. I guess it’s more about what you feel is right for your child.


  • I started with purees for our children, then moved on to lumpier textures. Around 8 months, they started with family finger foods, although before that, they had the odd homemade rusks (chunky baked bread fingers to suck and chew on). Its interesting reading the move straight to family foods, but the purees worked well for our family.


  • Some solid info here. :)


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