'Is this OK for beginners?' (this answer is almost always yes provided the baby is over 6 months!)
'My LO shoves it all in his mouth at once and gags - what do I do?'
The best answer is to do your research and trust your instincts. When we started, L didn't chew anything until he was 7.5 months old so spent a lot of his early meals with food just sat on his tongue until he gagged it out. To reduce the stress (for me - he wasn't bothered by the gagging at all!), I started with foods that were soft, grated and dissolved easily in his mouth. I've listed some of them below to help the fellow Nervy Nellies out there :)
Bear in mind that the ages below are completely individual to L and his personal development. All babies do things at different times and the same is true for their abilities to pick food up, put in their mouth, spit it out, chew it, and swallow it. Your baby will lead the way. Or trail a bit behind in our case!
Avocado - I started by mushing up with a fork (6 months) and moved to slices that he can pick up and hold (by about 7.5 months)
Grated Cheddar Cheese - Soft and quick to melt, plus it comes in different strengths. L likes mature cheese best, just like Mama. At 9.5 months I still give cheese in grated form rather than chunks.
|Tuna fishcake and banana|
Mashed Sweet Potato - Packed with good stuff and appeals the baby's natural preference for sweet tastes. I add a little unsalted butter before mashing.
Nectarines, whole - One of L's first foods, he was leaning forward in his highchair trying to get at a nectarine I was eating, I peeled off the skin with my teeth, held it to his mouth and he had a good ol' munch!
Grated Carrot - Requires a bit more chewing than cheese but is easily to swallow and nice and juicy.
Omelette - You can start with just egg or add pretty much any veg you fancy. I often throw in red pepper, onion and courgette. Omelette is nice and soft and breaks up easily in little mouths. Egg is a potential allergen though so keep an eye out for any symptoms of this. Having said that, I don't personally know anyone with an egg allergy so assume it's reasonably uncommon.
Squashed Peas - I squish these with a fork first to reduce any choking hazard though I suspect at 9.5 months I'm probably being overly cautious. Again, nice and sweet and a lovely appealing colour. L always goes for the green things on his tray first for some reason!
Broccoli - This is a classic BLW first food - interesting texture, built-in handle and the little green bits dettach easily.
And on the flip side, some foods we struggled with at first...
Bread - L just seemed to gum this into a claggy, sticky mess which plastered itself to the top of his palette and stubbornly stayed there. Cue Mummy trying to coax it out with drinks of water and the odd finger sweep (note - this is NOT recommended. I only did it a couple of times in desperation but there is a risk of you pushing it further in and causing a choking hazard). Toast crusts baked in the oven for crispness worked much better for us.
Weetabix - I do give this now at 9.5 months but again, it gets quite thick and lumpy and L sometimes struggles with it even now. Adding more water loosens it up but also makes it difficult for him to hold.
Banana - I've since discovered the 'bananas in pyjamas' technique where you leave the banana in its skin, with about a centimetre removed so the skinned banana forms a handle and the exposed flesh sticks out the top. Initially I gave half a 'naked' banana (didn't expect to ever type that!) which goes slippy and difficult to hold very quickly.
Cornflakes - L loves these and can pick individual flakes up very well. Unfortunately they make him gag loads (I guess they stick to his mouth) so we're taking a break for now. I'll try them again in a few weeks to see if he's mastered the technique.
Which foods did you give first?