3rd times a charm: baby-led weaning with my 3rd kid


I’ve had a few people ask about how we feed Maggie, having seen many an Instagram shot of her in her high chair knawing on a piece of sourdough or covered from head to toe in a roast chicken dinner. So I thought I’d write a post about it, to help others have a crack at this baby-led weaning business. That “name” frankly makes my eyes roll around my head a few times over – I hate all these “labels” and that people become either “this” or “that” and like everything to do with parenting can become quite passionate about “their” way being the “right” way to do something. It just pisses me off frankly so let’s just call it letting your kid eat by themselves from the start, or alternatively, having a third child and having no other option than to let them just go for it. I don’t have time to sit and spoon feed, and I can deal with a little mess, so this is the way we’ve gone.

Now, I have two other kids with quite a gap between the last two (6 years in fact) and when they were babies there was no real “online” world. No social media. The odd forum and plenty of baby books. I listened to what my Mum, sisters and sister in laws did, and that meant from about 4 month (or 6 it changed between the 2 of them even) you started them up on Farex (rice cereal) with some fruit and then gradually move up into mashed veggies and fruit. I dutifully cooked vegetables (organic weren’t even a real thing then) and those packs of squeezey foods didn’t even exist, it was all glass baby jars – and I blitzed it into mush, put them into ice blocks in the freezer and de-frosted as I needed to.

Both girls had good appetites and never were fussy eaters trying most things. They probably ate mushed stuff until they were past 1 occasionally chewing on a bone and definitely eating separately to Rob and I. They also had teeth – serious teeth – like 6 by the the time they were 6 months.

Fast forward to 2016 when our little Maggie arrived.


She exclusively breastfed till about 5 months and then started to adventure into the world of food. The kid has NO teeth (well at almost 11 months has just cut her first or second) and she also has two older sisters who demand a lot of attention in the afternoon and evenings. There’s home work, after school activities, and dinner for the whole family to make and eat, so there’s not been much time for prepping meals and sitting and feeding her, so we have tackled eating in this way.

Baby-led weaning basically means letting your child feed themselves. It’s messy, sure, and at times it’s mostly play, but I swear it has had an impact on Maggie and her relationship with food. SHE ADORES IT. She sits with us when we eat dinner (granted we are all grandma’s here and very fortunate to eat at home together each night together around 5-5.30pm as Rob and I both work from home). She gets the social aspect of food, she eats what we eat, and she has tried more flavours than either of the other two at the same age. And with no teeth!

At first I have to admit I was nervy. What about choking right? I asked my friend Emma who I had seen tackle it with her daughter (you can search her blog for lots of ideas) and she told me to get over it, she wasn’t going to choke. And she was right.

So how did we begin?

We started Maggie with food actually when we were in Italy with a little mashed banana. It went down like a lead balloon so we waited a few more weeks. Then we started with some porridge (the organic rice one because: DON’T PANIC IT’S ORGANIC) and then when it was lunch or dinner, a little bit of what we were having. Kind of.

I’d be cooking dinner, and was using baby spinach, so I’d give her a leaf to play with.


And then I’d be eating some bread, and I’d cut off the end of the sourdough and she would suck on it.

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And it kind of went from there. The pieces I always cut her were big enough for her to hold onto, and not small enough to choke on. There were times when she would gummy shark her way through a piece of bread or apple and she’d have a cough, but their gag instinct really is good. She had the odd spew and then she’d carry on much as she was before. Did it freak me out? Of course! But it was rare and she dealt with it in her own way so well, that I soon relaxed. Plus I soon enough had whooping cough fits to worry about instead!

First foods we started with

Ends of good quality sourdough
Mango seeds (it was summer)
Pieces of apple
Sweet potato chunks roasted
Home made wedges/chips
Plain boiled penne or spiral pasta

And we threw in the odd packet of veggies/fruit/porridge (DON’T PANIC IT’S ORGANIC) when we were out (that said she has probably eaten more hot chips than most 10 month olds)

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The next stage (probs 7 months onwards)

From here on we started to get a little more adventurous with what we gave her. Maybe we got more confident, maybe she got better, maybe I got lazy and just started to give her whatever we were eating. If we had a roast chicken and veggies, I would break the pieces up for her into small bite size pieces and let her do her best on the tray of her high chair (cannot beat the Ikea ones for clean up) and more often than not I forgot to put in her bibs so her clothes got trashed. May I suggest those bibs/smocks with sleeves? Get them! We were lucky to be in the summer so there were lots of wonderful fruits for us to choose from.



Cereal (porridge with fruit) we would spoon feed her this
Piece of vegemite toast
Fruit cut up (nectarine or peach)


Grated tasty cheese or slice broken into smaller pieces
Piece of sourdough
Avacado chunks
Fruit cut up


Whatever we were having in smaller pieces
Fruit cut up


And the odd, ahem, bit of morning tea like a chocolate biscuit her Grandfather gave her.


And of course lots of breastmilk.


Now at almost 11 months she is eating the same as above but with different fruits and veggies as the seasonal produce changes. Last night we had tacos for example, so I took some of the browned mince and onions out before I added seasoning then whacked it on her high chair with the avocado, cheese, tomatoes and a wrap and she happily ate away in her chair next to the table as we did. The night before it was sausage pasta so I just cut her pieces of penne up into thirds with the same sauce as us, tipped on the tray and she went for it. Sometimes she will eat out of a bowl, but more often than not that ends up on the floor.

Frank is obviously thrilled. He gets LOTS of leftovers on the floor.


Some food ideas:

Mini quiches (dear lord she will roll a gazillion of these)
Fritters: zucchini, corn etc
Sweet potato chips
Tortellini/ravioli any kind of pasta
Muffins (although these can crumble and have caused us lots of coughing attacks with crumbs)
Schnitzel tenderloins
Eggs! Omelettes/scrambled/boiled she adores them
Toast (we have started with peanut butter and she loves it)
Strawberries and grapes (we have only really just started on these and grapes I ALWAYS cut into small pieces as I have heard too many horror stories with them and kids choking)
Pikelets (grate apple into them)

Pretty much she eats what we eat with the same seasoning or spice (except anything too chilli) and she has eaten it all. There’s not much she won’t eat in fact, it’s really wonderful and we might be lucky, but I truly believe that the fact she has been able to play with it, get all her senses around it, has helped.

You know me, I am a neat freak, and all the mess has been something I have just had to let go of. It’s messy sure, but what’s a 3 minute clean up for a happy kid and a bit of soaking of clothes? Nothing!

It’s been a lesson in letting go, adapting, going with the flow and teaching and we have on our hands a happy kid who loves food and loves eating and will try anything. She’s been able to eat with us, share with us, learn with her sisters and I hope it lasts long into the future when she will get her own seat, her own cutlery and her own opinions about my cooking!


Hope this helps any of you first time Mums out there…all I can reinforce is that they will be fine. Truly. Trust your instincts and gut every time as you actually DO know what you are doing even though you think you don’t. And let them have fun. I remember someone commenting on a photo once saying “before 1 food is just for fun” and I think they might be right.

Happy eating. As I like to say MANGIARE! MANGIARE MAGGIE!

Have you gone down this road?
Got anything to add or suggest that I missed?
Any good websites to follow? Recipes to offer?


  1. I’ve used a similar style with my year-old son since he started solids at about 5 months, and he LOVES it! I can’t feed him anything, he wants to DO.IT.HIMSELF :). I feel like this is one of the best choices I made as a mum. It is so much fun, and so stress free. No airplanes, no worrying about them eating enough, just trusting your baby to try and learn in his or her own time. He has the same joy around food that Maggie does, plus it is so nice not to worry about getting special baby foods. Most of which are so gross and full of sugar, why?!

    My son loves meat (he devoured the beef stew I made last night from your recipe!), berries, bread of any kind with peanut butter, roasted veggie sticks, anything really. Something fun/ very messy that I do is make a smoothie with spinach, frozen fruit, yogurt and milk, and give it to him in a cup. I bought a doidy cup and would really recommend it! He can get most of it in without spilling, it’s quite impressive. He likes to drink water from the doidy cup as well.

    Thank you for the recipes! I think he’ll like the zucchini fritters!

  2. All sounds fine to me. Just a warning – never administer cous-cous. I was finding bits of it everywhere for days after! We found little home-made meatballs went down a treat. They were tasty and easy for the kids to feed to themselves. You can use different types of meat like veal, chicken, pork, beef or whatever. I used bibs with sleeves, they were fantastic. I also loved the rubbery/plastic bibs that had a scoop-like pocket at the bottom. Little hands could easily retrieve a lost morsel. A bit of plastic under the highchair made the clean up a little easier.

  3. I started number 3 on mashed fruit and rice cereal at 4 months because of weight gain issues- she loved it. By 5 months she was ripping that spoon off me as much to aay- I’ve got this mum. Now she eyes off whatever we are having and (unlike my 3 and 6 year old) will have a crack at anything!
    It definitely helps all sitting down at the same time. I remember with my first- feeding her early and putting her to bed so hubby and I could eat together. Those days are long gone- we eat at grandma o’clock too!

  4. Good Lord that child is cute. I thought about doing the baby led weaning thing for the triplets, but when the time came I stuck with the tried and true method with puree food. I do get a kick out of reducing food to a mush, I mean mash. I’ve always given them finger foods also though. Because the triplets were tiny I think I just wanted to make sure they put on weight, so I felt better when I knew they had eaten. I’m sure they would have put on weight irregardless though if I weren’t being such a fruit and vegie smashing control freak.

  5. I always loved it when Ollie would eat what we did and pretty much from the time he was interested. He is my third bubba and I was the most relaxed about his eating and I bf him til he was 14mnths old til he finally rejected me!! How good is that choking reflex? It’s when they start eating dirt you worry I reckon!! Maggie is just adorable and you must be the best um ever and I nodded through everything you just said!! ????

  6. I was just checking out the corn fritter receipe and I hate to say it but there are no fans of coriander in our household….do you think parsley would be an ok substitute or something else you may have tried instead? Thanks 🙂

  7. Ha, was just reading through the comments – something I didn’t do but I thought was a great idea was newspaper under the high chair, so easy to pick it all up and put straight in the bin. My two must’ve been desperately hungry or maybe I just don’t remember much going on the floor, I think we were living in squalor most probably.
    It’s funny though, the best online baby fun I had was with my first baby and the forum I was in, and somehow I stumbled across it almost 10 years ago. I found it so good to have a child specific zone, and I could keep most of it off FB.
    Maggie is just a wonder to watch from afar!

  8. I’ve just started Charlie on solids (sweet pototo, apple, pear, spinach purees etc) but I’m seriously thinking of doing baby lead weaning, simply because he doesn’t seem to love being spoon fed- where my other two boys were happy with it!
    Might be refering back to your post a lot in the near future!!

  9. My daughter is doing this with her 8 month old and has done from his first feeds at around 5 months. Sometimes she spoon feeds and sometimes she just lets Ollie get on with it. The mess is monumental, and she’s never sure how much he eats and how much the dog gets! BUT he’s as fat as butter and as happy as can be. Yes, he chokes (mince seems to be an issue), but not as much as you would expect him to.

    It just makes such perfect sense to me … but I’m with you … each to their own!

  10. Amanda G. says

    This is the BEST advice for first time mums. I wish someone had told me all this 11 years ago! I think it makes complete sense. Good for you with letting go of the mess!

  11. good on you beth! … hate labels!
    her call for sure!
    love her! she is adorable! she loves it!
    I love her creativity with it too! all of that deconstruction!;))
    playing with the food is a good thing!
    lol m:)X

  12. Lisa Mckenzie says

    I think it’s a great idea,no fussy eating and much easier.Maggie looks quite contented Xx

  13. I want to chew on that baby. How you don’t eat her is a miracle. SO damn cute

  14. Started my 5 month old a few weeks ago – she’s slowly getting used to flavours and we do a mixture of purees and BLW. She actually seems to make more of a “chewing” motion now, rather than just spitting it out, haha! She also quite likes those mesh feeder thingys to suck on (gift from MIL). BUT oh lordy, the mess!!! Can anyone link me to the bibs with sleeves? Or large plastic bibs?

  15. IT’S ORGANIC!!!

    Bahaha this killed me – I try to do the best I can with getting the Organic stuff… but my 2.5 year old is basically half potato with the amount of hot chips she’s eaten. Can’t blame her really, they’re delicious.

  16. A couple of other tips I came up with when my 4 were small;

    I put a single flat sheet folded in half under the high chair to catch all the mess. Easy to pick up and shake outside, easy to wash and occasionally put through the Napisan.

    I didn’t live near an IKEA. Their high chairs look great, but we had one with wheels, easy to move the child around so they can be snacking while you are getting dinner and be rolled over to join in when the family is eating.

    I agree that the bibs with sleeves are fantastic. If they do up at the back you can get them off without wiping the filthy bib over the babies face as you take it off. Sleeves especially good in winter with long sleeves jumpers etc

    I bought a stack of cheap face washers that lived in the kitchen beside the bibs. A wet face washer will get an amazing amount of grot off a child quickly and again easy to wash and soak if needed. Maggie is so gorgeous, does she ever cry? Always smiling in photos

  17. Gibbergunyah says

    We did “baby linguine” with both our boys(nearly 6 and 4). When I started it was a bit “out there” but we carried on. I’ve worked with toddlers with battles around food, and adolescents and adults with eating disorders. Entering into struggles around eating and the stress of preparing separate meals was something I was keen to avoid. We just left salt out of our meals (babies can’t handle much salt) and reduced the chilli. I knew that breastmilk would continue to nourish them, no matter how much they did or didn’t eat. I wanted the boys to experience the joy, exploration and mastery of eating and fun of participating in family meals. We could also eat anywhere and with anybody. We used to take the trusty Antilop highchair on holidays though – I think it had been to four states by the time we were finished with it. The other indispensable items were Baby Bjorn pocket bibs and smocks – indestructible as well!

  18. Great post Beth! I also agree with you about there being no need for labels – eating is eating!
    As first time mums we are told to start our babies on Farex followed by puréed veggies and fruit. When asked if I had to start with Farex I was simply told ‘yes’ – like there was no choice. My little miss independent turned her nose up at all things puréed on a spoon leading me to think maybe she just wasn’t ready for solids. Gut instinct told me to hand her a chunk of my cantaloupe one day. Turns out she is a food demon when it comes to finger food! The mess is astronomical and a real challenge for my OCD tendencies but I honestly believe this has been the best parenting decision I have made for her so far. She absolutely delights in exploring whatever is placed on her high hair tray and eating is a full body experience for her (food head to toe!) Watching the joy finger food gives her makes all the mess worthwhile for me. I have had my share of mini heart attacks watching her gag but I now know at 7 months she can handle most things I give her ok. More information and encouragement for first time mums in particular when it comes to this would be great I think – i have found social media to be a good source of confidence so well done you. My tips – buy an IKEA high chair, put a towel down, get some ‘2nd chance’ (plastic pocket bibs), be prepared to do a lot of soaking and most of all have fun with it!

  19. We did pretty much the same with number 2 & 3. Basically because number 2 is stubborn and has always had to do everything herself (including feeding herself, she refused to let me spoon feed her) and number 3 for the same reasons as you.

  20. I did it too, with both of mine. In summer we just used to take them out in the high chair covered in yogurt or whatnot and hose them down, haha. they loved it. I gave them everything (at first sliced the grapes for the older kid then gave them whole, gave them whole to second kid and she choked once) and they ate everything. Until they day the bloody didn’t any more no matter what I did. They had a ball and I could sit down with a cup of tea and let them go nuts!

    I remember once giving the eldest one a rusk to gnaw on while she was cutting teeth and waiting for her dinner. She gummy sharked it into a little shiv any prisoner would be proud of.

  21. Great post! We’re just about to start solids with baby number three, and our house is BUSY. I did start a few weeks ago with some veg puréed but like you said – lead balloon. Came out exactly as it went in. I can’t remember what it was like with my other two (is that bad?!) so I’m holding off a few weeks and will start her up again next week or the week after. My second had all sorts of bowel issues and is still a terribly picky eater, but my first would eat anything as a baby. You’ve actually got me excited about starting solids after this post, and restored my confidence in “baby led weaning” (gag, I hate that name!). I think I’ll combo it with the purées since I already went to the effort to freeze them 🙂 Baby smock at the ready!

  22. This is how I fed my last two babies. It certainly didn’t hurt them. Maybe if parents are to finicky with food and their kids it could be a cause of many allergies. May not be, it’s just a thought

  23. I can remember crying when my second decided that he was the boss and nothing was getting in that mouth unless he put it there. I just couldn’t work out how to fit fingerfood prep into my day – I had a freezer full of homemade purees and was already serving 3 meals each night, baby, toddler and then us. The baby fingerfood recipes I’d had for my eldest were great – and easy to freeze in portions – but I’d always found that anything I tried was popular for a day or so – but refused pretty quickly when offered again – and not worth making unless you produced enough to feed (D’uh!!!) the whole family.

    But I got some great advice (similar to this post) and it was the best thing which happened for my family. ONE MEAL for everyone. Winter comfort food is so appealing for bossy babies and busy mums – meat close to the bone, meatball soups, roast veg, meals prepared at nap time and slow cooking ’til dinnertime. I found that if you don’t need a knife, they don’t need teeth (much…..) I also found that self feeding saw less gagging.

    I highly recommend the AWW Happy Baby Cookbook – and have gifted it to new mums (easier to get at the library than a bookshop now.) It has a lovely section of recipes for “eating with the family” – suggesting adjustments so that you can meet different stages of eating with the single meal – really helpful to switch your mind onto how to tweak meals you already know so well that you can shop/cook/serve with your eyes closed (because that’s all you can manage after several months of sleep deprivation)

    #2 has a nut allergy and I was a billion times fussier with #1 so no evidence to support Beck’s suggestion of a correlation here. While it might be helpful for stressed mums to think there’s a long term medical reason for being not too finicky with food, the cause for the rise in allergies keeps a whole swathe of medical experts busy. There are plenty of advantages to feeling confident to go with the (messy) flow and do what suits your family without needing a medical reason, Maggie and that chocolate biscuit agree – what joy – such a lovely moment captured!

  24. I love seeing pictures of Maggie on facebook/instagram/here of course. It makes me smile – there is just something so wonder about seeing a child happy to feed themselves. This is how my children progressed after breast milk, but my mother inlaw poo poos it every time she sees it. She tells me that she would never let her children feed themselves and would hit them if they didn’t eat. I just find these stories so depressing. My boys love eating and will eat just about anything – as long as they are happy and healthy, I think I’m doing an okay job {even if my mother inlaw disagrees}.

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