What size to cut food for baby led weaning

How to Cut Food for Babies and Toddlers

It’s possible to make it easier for kids to eat the food we offer them simply by making sure it’s cut into appropriate sizes. This can help reduce frustration, picky eating, and food waste—and the potential for choking risks. This post has all of my best tips for how to cut food for babies and toddlers!

How to Cut Food for Babies and Toddlers

Food can be slippery and hard to pick up. It can be chewy, tough, sticky, or a whole host of other textures. It can help to greatly reduce frustration at mealtimes if you consider a few basic tips when cutting food for kids. The principals of this are really straight forward, but I’m going to share a lot of visuals since I know the real life practice of this can get confusing!

How to Cut Food for Baby Led Weaning

If you’re starting solids with the Baby Led Weaning style, you’ll want to make sure that the food is soft (it should easily squish between your fingers) and be cut at least the size of your finger. This will help ensure that baby can easily pick it up, yet be unable to put the entire piece into her mouth.

TIP: Find my Ultimate Guide to Baby Led Weaning here.

Tips for Cutting Up Finger Foods for Babies

When babies are about 9 months old, they develop the “pincer grasp”, or the ability to pick up smaller pieces between two fingers. At this age, you can start to serve very soft, squishable finger foods that are about the size of a pea or two.

TIP: Find my full list of Early Finger Foods for Babies here.

Progression of how to serve raw veggies for kids

How to Serve Raw Veggies to Toddlers

Offering raw veggies to kids can be challenging since many are hard and take a lot of work to chew. And big chunks of raw veggies like carrots can be choking hazards. To stay safe and give the kids a chance to practice with the new textures, try:

  1. 12/14 months: Start with shredded raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper, and lettuce. (You can soften the carrots for a few minutes in very hot water if desired.)
  2. 16/18 months: Proceed to very, very thin slices (paper thin!).
  3. 20/24 months: Gradually offer slightly thicker pieces around, but they should still be thin and less than 1/4-inch thick.
  4. 2 years: Try offering small diced pieces of bell pepper and cucumber, though some kids may still do better with larger, thin pieces.
  5. 4+ years: Kids may be able to safely chew a big piece of raw carrot or a whole baby carrot. (This is a really tough texture, so try to avoid it for a while.)

How to Cut Sandwiches for Kids

Bread can be a challenging texture for kids, especially when there are other textures in the middle of a sandwich. Progressing through a few phases can make this easier and help avoid frustration.

  1. 6+ month: Serve lightly toasted finger-size or larger pieces of bread for baby to gnaw on.
  2. 9+ months: Dice bread into very small pieces. Moisten it with apple butter, baby food puree, or another moist spread as needed to help baby move it around in their mouths.
  3. 14/16 months: Stick pieces are great for this age to help kids practice taking bites.
  4. 20/22 months: Sandwich quarters are a great size for one year olds and are a nice size for little hands to hold.

TIP: Find my favorite Kid’s Sandwiches here.

How to Serve Apples to Babies and Toddlers

Start with applesauce and Roasted Apples for babies, then shredded apple to thin matchsticks to very thin slices through the one year old year.

How to Serve Bananas to Babies and Toddlers

Start with a BLW-style banana (leave a little of the skin on to act as a less slippery handle) and Banana Puree, then move to small pieces around 9 months, and larger pieces around 16 months. Kids may also be able to bite whole bananas after 12 months since they are so soft.

How to Serve Broccoli to Babies and Toddlers

Start with Mashed Potatoes with Broccoli or a big BLW-style piece, then move to smaller very tender pieces around 9 months, and gradually increase the size through the one year old year.

With all of these, you want the florets to be very soft so they are easy to chew.

Fork making “bite marks” in pear

How to Help Kids Learn to Take Bites

It’s common for one year olds to stuff a lot of food into their mouths at once, so we sometimes need to be very deliberate about teaching them to take bites. You can use a fork to make a “bite mark” so they can see where to try to put their teeth. You can also give them larger pieces of food that they physically wouldn’t be able to fit into their mouths so they sort of have to take a bite.

Sit with the kids during meals, if you can, and show them how you take bites. This is a normal phase and kids usually get the hang of it if we give them time to learn and practice.

Try cutting foods in new ways to keep thing interesting.

Best Tips for Cutting Food for Kids

  • Start with finger-size pieces at 6+ months for baby led weaning.
  • Transition to pea (or two peas) size pieces around 9 months when kids can pick up smaller pieces between their fingers.
  • Offer larger pieces so they can practice taking bites around 16/18 months.
  • For raw veggies and hard fruits (like apples), start with shreds, then matchsticks, and paper thin pieces.
  • Save baby carrots and other very hard raw veggies until age 4+.
  • Find my favorite baby First Finger Foods.
  • Find my go-to toddler Finger Foods.
  • Learn more about Serving Nuts to Kids.
  • Brush up on the common choking hazards and how to reduce the risk.

Related Recipes

I’d love to know if you have any questions on this or feedback, so please comment below!

How to Cut Foods for Baby-Led Weaning

You’ve probably seen photos online of babies practicing baby-led weaning, chomping down on a whole carrot or grasping raw apple slices. But, is this safe?

In the case of the raw carrot and apples, nope. But, baby-led weaning certainly can be safe, if you know how to cut and cook foods properly.

Baby-led weaning, or baby-led feeding as I prefer to call it, means that babies feed themselves finger foods as soon as they start solids. But it isn’t anything goes. Here’s how to make sure that the foods you give your baby are safe and easy-to-eat for your baby’s developmental capabilities. Because if your baby can’t pick up the food, then she can’t actually eat it!

And these guidelines work for any finger foods, even if your baby is still eating some purées (which is just fine, by the way!).

Size and Shape

At around 6 months — Most babies just starting solids haven’t developed their pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger) yet. So to pick up foods they grasp them with their whole palm. Since you want your baby to still access the food while it’s in her palm, it’s best to cut food into long, thin sticks. Think about the length and width of your pinky finger, and check out the photo above from Baby-Led Feeding for some ideas.

Other than choking hazards and honey (which you should never give to a baby under age 1), most foods are fair game at this age, including meat, poultry, cheese (shredded), and allergens like eggs, nuts (never whole, but a little smooth nut butter stirred into a purée or spread on toast), and fish.

Toasts are another excellent vehicle for introducing new foods and flavors. Because while we don’t want foods to be too hard (see below), we also don’t want them to be too soft and gummy. Commercial bread can be difficult to pick up and can turn into a ball of mush in a baby’s mouth. But, lightly toasted bread is ideal for self-feeding. Here are 15 of my favorite toast toppings for babies.

And remember that much of eating at this early stage is about your baby exploring–touching, smelling, and yes, tasting. But don’t be alarmed if it seems like little of the food is actually making it into her tummy. Self-feeding takes a lot of eye-hand coordination, and that’s an ability your baby is still developing.


At around 8-10 months — When babies develop their pincer grasp start cutting foods into small pieces, about chickpea-sized. And for small round foods like chickpeas or blueberries, smash them lightly before serving. It’s great for babies at this age to practice their pincer grasp, but it’s also A-OK to continue serving food in sticks like you did when he was younger. The photo above is also from Baby-Led Feeding.

Some of my other favorite single-ingredient foods at this stage include chopped hard-cooked eggs and small pasta shapes.

This is also a good time to begin offering your baby a spoon along with thick soups or mashes. It will take practice for her to get the hang of eating with the spoon, but you can pre-load the utensil to start, and of course, practice makes perfect.


At all ages, foods should be soft enough that you can smash them with gentle pressure between your thumb and forefinger. This means no raw carrots, apples, nuts, or tough chunks of meat. For vegetables, this usually means steaming them, roasting them, or cooking them in an Instant Pot. Meat should also be very, very tender. Here’s my guide to cooking meat for babies.

Remember, to err on the side of caution with baby-led feeding and always stay with your baby while she’s eating. Then enjoy the show!

Looking for more baby-led weaning ideas and family feeding tips? Sign up for my newsletter! As a thank you, I’ll send you three of my favorite healthy smoothie recipes for the whole family. I look forward to being in touch!





Photos by Lauren Volo.

Jenna Helwig
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Termination of breastfeeding | Stopping breastfeeding

When is it time to stop breastfeeding and what is the best way to do it? Read our article for useful practical tips on weaning.

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How long should breastfeeding continue? Three months? Six? Year? Or maybe a few years?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other authorities recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and then continue to be breastfed along with other foods (complementary foods) for at least two years. nine0011 1

The fact is that breast milk is not just food. It is a natural sedative if the child is anxious or tired. In addition, milk contains immune-boosting components, the amount of which increases dramatically when the baby gets sick. 2

According to anthropologists, the natural age of a person to stop breastfeeding is even more than two years. Given factors such as tooth development, body weight, comparison with other primates, and historical evidence, some scientists believe that breastfeeding may last up to two to four years. A number of researchers even believe that our ancestors breastfed children up to six or seven years of age. nine0011 3

Today, more than 60% of mothers in developed countries start giving their babies formula or complementary foods before six months of age, 4 although WHO does not recommend this.

When is it time to stop breastfeeding?

Weaning means that you gradually stop breastfeeding your baby. Ideally, the first step in this process is the gradual introduction of complementary foods, starting at about six months of age. In this case, breastfeeding continues. The weaning process continues until the mother's milk has been completely replaced by other foods and drinks. nine0003

“After six months, the baby needs higher doses of certain nutrients, such as iron, zinc, vitamins B and D, that he cannot get from breast milk or from his own reserves,” says Sarah Beeson, health visitor from Great Britain.

“But solid food should at first only supplement the main diet with breast milk and gradually replace it. Mother's milk remains the main source of nutrition for the baby for many months to come. ” nine0003

On average, a seven-month-old baby gets 93% of its calories from breast milk. And even between the 11th and 16th months, milk provides him with about half of the daily calorie intake. 5

“Sometimes moms think that breastmilk isn't that important once a baby has started solid foods, but the truth is, no matter how many months old a baby is, there's nothing better than your milk,” continues Sarah.

In fact, the process of finishing breastfeeding can take as long as mother and baby want. “When to stop breastfeeding is up to you,” says Sarah. The only thing that matters is what you think is right for you and your child.” nine0003

How to wean

Whenever you decide to start weaning your baby, it's best to do it gradually. An abrupt cessation of breastfeeding can lead to lactostasis, blockage of the milk ducts and mastitis, and in a child such a sudden change can adversely affect the state of the digestive and immune systems. In addition, it will be difficult for both of you psychologically.

When should I stop breastfeeding?

Sometimes mothers mistakenly believe that it is time to stop breastfeeding, when in fact there is no reason to. If you're returning to work, breastfeeding can be a great way to stay close to your baby during this difficult time for both of you. You can express milk at work, and morning and evening feeding sessions will give you the opportunity to spend time alone with your baby. If you need to leave without your baby, you can also express milk and bring or send it home. nine0003

If you get sick, this is not always a reason to stop breastfeeding. Read our advice in the article on breastfeeding when sick and consult with your healthcare professional.

Weaning up to six months

If you cannot continue breastfeeding until six months and want to try weaning your baby, start by replacing one feeding a day with a bottle of formula.

“It's best to start with midday feedings. Babies are very alert and able to smell breast milk nearby, so ask your partner or relative to give your baby a bottle when you're in the other room,” Sarah advises. nine0003

“Be hygienic when preparing meals. Be prepared for the fact that the baby will take fewer servings of expressed milk per day than if he was fed directly from the breast. Don't make him eat more milk than he wants."

You will probably feel that your breasts are fuller and more tender. This is due to the fact that your body is rebuilding to produce less milk. If this creates discomfort, try expressing some milk—just enough to relieve the discomfort without stimulating extra production. nine0003

When your body adjusts to the new volume - usually after a few days - replace with formula for one more meal a day. Continue this until you have changed all feedings and your baby is completely weaned.

“I had complications after my first birth, as a result I lost a lot of weight very quickly, and besides, I developed mastitis. Lactation was very weak, and at three months I was forced to stop breastfeeding,” recalls Jennifer, a mother of two from the UK, “I gradually replaced one feeding, so physically it was easy, but mentally it was hard for me. ” nine0003

If you want to maintain closeness with your baby and all the health benefits of breastfeeding, but still need to cut down on breastfeeding, try partial weaning, replacing only a few feeds a day with formula.

Weaning after six months

Once your baby starts eating solid foods (about six months old), you will notice that breastfeeding naturally occurs less and less. For a year, it can be reduced to just a couple of times a day, and feedings will be replaced by full meals and healthy snacks. nine0003

Anyway, if you intend to continue to reduce breastfeeding, do it gradually, replacing one feeding at a time. Use formula milk if your baby is under 12 months old. With cow's milk, you should wait at least up to a year.

“When I decided to wean my son, I breastfed him three times a day and gave him other foods three times plus light snacks. Gradually, I replaced all breastfeedings with formula. By 11 months, we only had one nighttime breastfeed left,” says Ruth, a UK mom. nine0003

There are various ways to distract a child from changes in his diet. Some mothers suggest that instead of breastfeeding something to drink and eat together to maintain a sense of closeness. You can also change your daily routine, play your favorite game, or replace feeding with caresses - from you or from your partner. Some children take longer to get used to the new food, but in the end everything falls into place. If you are having difficulty weaning, ask your healthcare provider for advice. nine0003

Ending breastfeeding naturally

Ending breastfeeding can be guided by the baby's wishes. This is called baby-initiated weaning, or the natural termination of breastfeeding. Such a process is likely to be long and gradual. Month after month, feeding sessions will become shorter and less frequent, until one day the child completely loses interest in the breast.

“My daughter stopped breastfeeding on her own when she was four years old,” says Sarah, a mother from the UK. And once, when we were on vacation, she seemed to just forget about her breasts. Now, six months later, she sometimes still asks for breasts, but she already knows that there is no milk there. nine0003

You will have a huge amount of time for the body to adapt, so there should be no discomfort or swelling of the breast. However, you may find it difficult emotionally, so spend more time petting and bonding with your baby.

“Child-initiated termination of breastfeeding was right for me because I never gave my son formula or a bottle. I didn’t want to abruptly stop feeding and refuse him,” recalls Kelly, a mother from the UK, “He himself lost interest in breasts at the age of two and a half years. For us, it was the best scenario, although emotionally it was not very easy for me.” nine0003

What if you need to stop breastfeeding quickly?

It is best not to stop breastfeeding abruptly, but sometimes it is necessary for medical reasons or because you cannot be near the baby.

If you have been breastfeeding your baby up to this point, you will most likely have to express your milk to avoid breast swelling. Some mothers prefer to use a breast pump for this, others find it easier to express milk manually. You only need to pump a little, just to eliminate the discomfort, otherwise your body will take it as a signal to produce more milk. nine0003

At first, the breasts may swell and become tender, but this will pass. Breast milk contains a so-called feedback lactation inhibitor. When breastfeeding is stopped, this inhibitor tells your body to slow down milk production, but it can take days or even weeks for your breasts to rebuild.

Certain medications can relieve pain and should be discussed with your doctor. Always follow your pharmacist's instructions or directions, and consult your healthcare professional before taking any medication. nine0003

“I had to abruptly stop breastfeeding when my daughter was eight months old because she had to take strong painkillers,” says Peggy, a mother from Switzerland. “It was very difficult because the baby was constantly looking for a breast and crying. I held her tightly to me as I gave her a bottle. This calmed her, and after a month everything was all right.

Can I continue breastfeeding if I want to get pregnant again?

Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive. However, this method is not the most reliable, especially after six months or if you are not exclusively breastfeeding. This means that you can get pregnant even while you are breastfeeding. nine0003

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers sometimes receive conflicting advice about whether to stop breastfeeding. Consistent feeding of two children of different ages is of course possible, and with the advent of the second baby, your body will produce the kind of milk that both of them need.

It is not uncommon for an older child to refuse to breastfeed or skip feedings if the mother is pregnant. This may be due to changes in milk composition that occur during pregnancy. Milk can change the taste and become less sweet. nine0011 6 If your baby is under one year of age when he starts to stop breastfeeding, make sure he continues to gain weight.

Talk to your doctor if you want to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy, but have had a preterm birth or miscarriage, or have any bleeding in the past.

If you need medical help to conceive, certain drugs and procedures may not be suitable while you are breastfeeding. Discuss all possible options before deciding to stop breastfeeding. nine0003

And finally...

Whenever you decide to end breastfeeding, and whatever method you choose to do so, be kind to yourself and your baby. This is a huge change for both of you physically, hormonally, and emotionally, so proceed thoughtfully and carefully.

“Although my body responded normally to stopping breastfeeding, it was psychologically difficult for me. The thing that united us for so long is over, - Jane, a mother of two children from the USA, shares her impressions, - I worked long hours, five days a week, and breastfeeding made me feel that I occupy a special place in the lives of children. But when it stopped, we soon found other ways to be together.” nine0003


1 World Health Organization. [Internet] Health Topics: Breastfeeding: 2018 [Accessed: 02/08/2018]. Available from : http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en - World Health Organization. "Health Issues: Breastfeeding" [Internet]. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2018 [Visit 02/08/2018]. Article linked: http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/e

2 Hassiotou et al. Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk. Clin Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4): e 3. - Hassiot F. et al., "Infectious diseases of the mother and child stimulate a rapid leukocyte reaction in breast milk." Clean Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4):e3.

3 Dettwyler KA. When to wean: biological versus cultural perspectives. Clin Obstet Gynecol . 2004; 47(3)712-723. - Dettwiler KA, "Time to wean: weaning from a biological and cultural point of view". Klin Obstet Ginekol (Clinical obstetrics and gynecology). 2004; 47(3):712-723.

4 Victora CG Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet. nine0131 2016;387(10017):475-490. - Victor S.J. et al., "Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms and long-term effects". Lancet 2016;387(10017):475-490.

5 Dewey KG et al. Breast milk volume and composition during late lactation (7-20 months). J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr . 1984;3(5):713-720. — Dewey C.G. et al., "Amount and composition of breast milk in late lactation (7-20 months)". nine0131 F Pediatrician Gastroenterol Nutr. 1984;3(5):713-720.

6 Prosser CG et al. Mammary gland function during gradual weaning and early gestation in women. Aust J Exp Biol Med 9021 9029 Sci. 1984;62( Pt 2):215-228. - Prosser S.G. et al., "Breast Function During Gradual Weaning and Early Gestation." Aust J Exp Biol Med Sai. nineteen84;62( Pt 2):215-228.

How to stop breastfeeding | Philips Avent

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When and how to stop breastfeeding? Like all good things, breastfeeding eventually comes to an end. nine0273

Weaning is an important decision for both mother and baby, and the decision is entirely up to them. When the mother and baby are ready to start weaning, there are a few tips and techniques to help make the transition a positive one.

3 Philips Avent products to support you when you stop breastfeeding:

When should I start weaning my baby? nine0054

There is no definite and correct period for weaning a child. The mother-child relationship is different for everyone, and weaning is a purely personal decision for mother and baby, which they make when both are ready.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to six months of age. Until a child reaches the age of one year, both solid food and breast milk must be present in his diet. If the baby is weaned before he is one year old, adapted infant formula can be fed instead of breast milk. If a baby is stopped breastfeeding at one year of age or older, infant formula milk products can be given instead. While the recommendations are, many mothers stop breastfeeding before their babies are 12 months old, and others breastfeed for up to two years or longer. The second option is called extended breastfeeding, and it's a completely healthy choice for mothers and babies who want to continue breastfeeding. nine0003

Signs that a baby is ready to wean

Mothers often wonder how to stop breastfeeding, because babies rarely just stop suckling. Weaning a baby is usually a gradual process for both mother and baby.

There are several signs that will let you know that the baby is ready to start weaning:

  • disinterest or fussiness during feeding; nine0305
  • reducing the duration of feedings;
  • baby is easily distracted while feeding;
  • the child plays while suckling, eg pulling or biting the breast;
  • baby suckles lightly but does not extract milk.

How do I wean a baby?

When mom and baby decide it's time to stop breastfeeding, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the transition smoother. nine0273

Here are our tips for weaning your baby when the time is right:

1. Wean gradually. When you decide to wean a baby, remember the main thing: do it gradually. This is necessary so that both mother and baby can adapt to physical and emotional changes. In addition, the gradual cessation of breastfeeding helps mothers avoid problems such as engorgement and general breast discomfort.

2. Express milk. To prevent breast engorgement when breastfeeding is stopped, the mother may need to express her milk, especially if the baby is less than a year old. One way to reduce and gradually stop breast milk production is to express less and less milk so that less milk is produced. Since pumping stimulates the flow of milk, it is important to use the pump for a shorter time than the duration of feeding the baby. Gradually, milk production will decrease and eventually stop completely. nine0273

Check out the Natural Motion Electronic Breast Pump, which combines nipple stimulation and pumping like a baby does for natural and gentle pumping.​

3. Reduce the number of daily feedings by one every week. We recommend eliminating one of the daily feedings each week, such as feeding at noon or at another time, depending on which one the child likes the least. The latter, as a rule, exclude feeding before bedtime and immediately after waking up. nine0003

During the weaning period, the mother's breasts will continue to produce milk until she completely stops breastfeeding.

During this period, mums will love these soft bra pads to keep their clothes dry and clean all day long.

Check out this Natural bottle with an ultra-soft, breast-like nipple to help make the transition from breast to bottle easier. nine0003

4. Extra hugs may be needed. In addition to the physical changes that stopping breastfeeding brings, moms and babies will also experience emotional changes. During this period, you should hug the baby more often and express your love to him. Caress and other acts of love can help mother and baby retain the closeness and togetherness that breastfeeding has given them.

5. Introduce complementary foods at your baby's usual feeding times. Another way to help your baby adjust to change is to give him complementary foods at his usual feeding times. Babies who are a year old or older can substitute cow's milk for breast milk or offer other foods if the baby has already switched to solid foods. nine0003

We also recommend watching the webinar "How to End Breastfeeding Comfortably and Painlessly: Tips and Tricks".

Although weaning is the natural end to breastfeeding, a mother can make a huge difference in her baby's life at this stage. Along with a new sense of pride in a child who is growing and developing, it is quite natural for a mother to feel sadness. Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby. Therefore, breastfeeding mothers often find it difficult to say goodbye to breastfeeding. nine0273

If you have any questions, be sure to contact a specialist to get his opinion.

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