Baby Daybook icon

Baby Daybook

Baby-led Weaning or Purees? Which Method Works Best?

Article by

Weaning is the process of replacing milk with solid foods by slowly reducing the amount you breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby. There are two main methods of weaning your baby: baby-led weaning or spoon-feeding purees. The traditional spoon-feeding method is what we envision when we think of introducing solids; babies are offered pureed foods in addition to milk or formula. It can be confusing to new parents when deciding between baby-led weaning or purees. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of both methods will help you decide if you want to go the baby-led, puree, or mixed method approach. The good thing to remember is that there is no wrong or right way to wean your baby; it is whatever works best for you and your little one!

Download now!
Starting solids can be easy! Easily track what your baby is eating with Baby Daybook. Log new foods, choose from different food groups, and note your baby’s reactions. Download the Baby Daybook app today and enjoy this milestone with your little one!

Baby-Led Weaning

Baby-led weaning is a method in which your baby skips the puree stage and moves directly to prepared foods in small, bite-size servings. With baby-led weaning, your little one feeds themselves using their fingers and, eventually, a spoon or other utensils.

Babies should not begin the baby-led method before they are six months old. They must be able to sit up without support and hold their head upright. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides the following recommendations for when a baby is ready to self-wean.

  • They’ve, at minimum, doubled their birth weight.
  • They can hold their head up independently.
  • They can sit up unsupported.
  • They show signs of interest in food (watching you eat, reaching for food when you’re eating, etc).
  • They can move the food around in their mouths – rather than spit it right out.

Foods offered should be soft, malleable, and small enough that your baby can pick them up with their fingers or hands and won’t present a choking hazard. Think of the size of a Cheerio.

Introduce solids, one food at a time, to rule out any potential allergies. Use the Baby Daybook Food Tracker to record each new food they try! You can record their reaction and possible signs of allergies, like a rash, coughing, diarrhea, or mouth or tongue swelling.

The Baby Daybook app allows you to keep track of all the foods your baby is introduced to, whether you use the baby-led or spoon-feeding method.
Recording new foods baby tries with the Baby Daybook app

First Food Options for Baby-Led Weaning

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Cooked veggies (green beans, sweet potato, carrots, broccoli)
  • Soft fruits (strawberries, avocado, bananas, peaches, plums, grapes)
  • Cooked, soft proteins (tofu, fish, chicken)
  • Soft or cooked grains (whole wheat bread, pasta, cereal, puffs, muffins)

Remember, all foods given to your baby should be cut into small pieces. Avoid placing too much food on your baby’s tray at one time to prevent them from grabbing and stuffing their mouth.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Baby-Led Weaning


  • Family mealtimes: Everyone can eat dinner together since you don’t have to spoon-feed your baby.
  • Less costly: Buying or making homemade purees can quickly add up!
  • Less time-consuming: Your baby can eat the same foods as you, so you don’t have to prepare different foods.
  • Increases your baby’s hand-eye coordination as they feed themselves.
  • Teaches self-regulation: Your baby will stop eating when they feel full.


  • More food waste: Your baby will drop, spill, and make a mess of a lot of food in the early stages as they learn how to feed themselves.
  • Messy: Food will go everywhere, on them, in the chair, and their clothing!
  • It is harder to gauge how much your baby is eating. 
  • The choking risk is higher with baby-led weaning. Always stay with your baby when eating, and don’t provide food in the car. 
  • You cannot start before 6 months. 

Spoon-Feeding Purees

Most people are familiar with spoon-feeding purees when starting solids. You can either purchase ready-made purees in the store or make your own by mixing breastmilk or formula with different foods and creating puree in the blender. 

Babies can begin puree as young as four months. You can also offer baby cereals or oatmeal mixed with pureed fruits. Gradually, starting around six to seven months, you increase the texture of the foods until you offer your baby bite-sized finger food instead of purees.

First Food Options for Spoon-Feeding Purees

  • Rice cereal or baby oatmeal
  • Pureed fruits
  • Pureed veggies
  • Pureed proteins 
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt

Advantages and Disadvantages of Spoon-Feeding Purees


  • It’s easier to measure how much your baby has eaten.
  • There’s less mess (although it is still messy, especially when they want the spoon themselves) and less waste.
  • It’s easier to get family and other caregivers to participate.
  • You can start earlier; some people start as early as 4 months, although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months.


  • It can be hard to tell when your baby is full, and continuing to offer them more food once their belly is full can form an early habit of overeating. 
  • It’s time-consuming: Sitting and feeding your baby one spoonful at a time takes up a lot of time!
  • No family meals: If one parent feeds the baby, you cannot sit and have a traditional family meal together. 
  • It’s expensive: Purchasing premade purees or even making them yourself can be rather costly. 
Feeding your baby pureed foods has many advantages and disadvantages.
Spoon-feeding purees

Mixed Method

The mixed method sounds exactly like combining the baby-led and spoon-feeding puree methods into a system that works for you and your baby! Many families opt for the mixed method because it provides more options and flexibility. 

There’s no wrong or right way to use the mixed method. Option one is alternate meals, which provide solids at one meal and purees at another. Option two is to present both types of food at all meals. 

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Easier to have family meals.
  • Promotes self-regulation.
  • More variety in foods offered.
  • Your baby gains independence.
  • Offers your family flexibility.


  • It’s messy! Self-feeding is messy, and so are pureed! 
  • Time-consuming: You have to prepare two different types of food.
  • It could frustrate your baby if they prefer one method over the other.
  • Choking hazard: Anytime solid food is in your baby’s mouth, there is a choking risk.


Parents have several options when it’s time to wean their baby. Both baby-lead weaning and the spoon-feeding puree method have advantages and disadvantages. Some parents choose to combine the two for a mixed method, giving them the best of both worlds! No matter what weaning method you choose, make sure your baby is developmentally ready to start solids and log each new food and meal with the Baby Daybook Feeding Tracker!

Download now!
Starting solids can be easy! Easily track what your baby is eating with Baby Daybook. Log new foods, choose from different food groups, and note your baby’s reactions. Download the Baby Daybook app today and enjoy this milestone with your little one!


Note: Our writers strive to maintain accuracy and quality in all content produced. However, it’s important to note that the information provided on our blog should not be considered professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. It’s highly recommended to consult a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns or questions.

Article by
L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, and gender development. She has written curricula for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside Annapolis, Maryland.
Related posts