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We started our vegan baby led weaning journey in 2013 and have introduced solids to our three children with this feeding method since then, and it's been one of the best decisions we made as parents. I often have friends ask how I get my kids to eat the variety of foods they eat and the only thing I can really point to is the fact that they ate real, whole food from the time they first started solid food.
I know that mealtime can be a high stress situation for both parents and kids and I'm glad that in this one area, we have been able to avoid the food battle.
I give full credit to vegan baby led weaning.
It's not actually a weaning method, more of a style of feeding that can start with your 6-month old baby-- it would be better called Baby Led Feeding or Baby Led Eating. Rather than introducing solids via purees and gradually transitioning to larger pieces of food, with this eating method you give your child safe pieces of food and allow them to learn to use their mouth to chew it.
When I first read about introducing solid food in this way I was definitely intrigued but also confused. How could babies chew without teeth? Wouldn't they choke?
I did a lot of research, read a ton of websites and books, felt the answers satisfied my worries, and we decided to give it a shot.
With my first child, I tried to use a cautious approach where she started with very soft pieces of fruit and well cooked vegetables. I read Gill Ripley's book and knew that she advocated that children should start with the same exact meal as the adults were having but cut into safer pieces, but I was honestly a bit too scared to do that. It didn't exactly make sense to me how my meal could translate to a meal for a baby.
Within a month I was all the way there. She truly could eat what we were eating. We adjusted by leaving out salt and sugar and cut her pieces differently than ours, but they were the same meals.
By the time I had my third child, I was more confident and I had way less time. I'd seen the method work two times before and didn't give it much thought for doing it the same with my third. Anyone who's had multiple children knows this is just the way it is with those subsequent kids.
From the beginning he ate our exact dinner right along side us. He was a very different baby with a lot less interest in solid food than our first two, and there were times I thought I'd have to come up with a different method for feeding him. But, at almost 3 right now, he's right along with them in eating what we serve, and I do a huge variety of different things every night. It worked out just fine.
Almost every day of the week I cook dinner, and usually at least one child is helping me. They help cut vegetables, they rinse rice, and they taste things to see if they need more salt or seasoning.
Most of my meals revolve around real, whole foods-- whole grains, beans and legumes, organic seasonal vegetables and fruits, sprouts, fermented vegetables, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils. We eat very minimal processed foods-- occasional fake meats and fake cheeses, but mostly it's all real, home cooked food.
We sit down to the table together to eat and we all eat the same things. When we were feeding babies, they would nurse first and then eat the same meals as us but unsalted and cut into stick shapes for easy handling. As they got more agile in chewing and swallowing, we gradually worked them up to a small portion of the same shape food we ate.
As much as we praise our food and talk about how beautiful and delicious it is, we are calm and neutral emotionally if someone doesn't like the meal or doesn't want to eat that particular thing that day. That's okay-- we all have preferences and sometimes things don't sound great to us. But we don't make another meal for that child to accommodate the fact that they don't feel like eating what we made.
Does this sound like a good situation to you? I really want to share how we did this, and what recipes I found to be the most successful from age 6 months, through toddlerhood, and for young children.
I hope you will try it and tell me how it works for your family!
There are so many people interested in learning more about vegan baby led weaning and I wrote this book for each of you.
What's in the book? It details everything that worked for us.
I started with an introduction to the process of starting solids, have a small section of ideas on how to cut those very first foods, and a huge section of vegan recipes for babies that all of my children ate as first foods and still eat as older kids. We all enjoy them!
Each recipe has a full color photo of the finished product, serving size, and tells how long it takes to make the meal.
I hope you love this vegan baby led weaning cookbook and guide to introducing first solids safely.
Here are the vegan recipes you will make:
Pasta and Grains:
Beans & Patties:
Sugar-Free Vegan Desserts:
Note: This is the 2nd edition of my Vegan Baby Led Weaning Cookbook. The first was published in 2016 after I had fed my first daughter for a few years using this method. I've had two more children since then! The 2nd edition has a new layout, fresh new recipes, and and introduction that details what worked for my three children.