Baby-led weaning: When your baby skips the puree and feeds himself

Email a Friend
From and
"Baby-led weaning" is about skipping the baby food and letting your infant feed himself. The Takeaway talks to Helen Stewart, who blogs about baby-led weaning and to Keith Dixon, the father of an infant who eats everything he does — in mashed up form.

Guests: Keith Dixon, food writer for the New York Times, and Helen Stewart, journalist with the Sunday Times of London

Sole Milanese and Poached Vegetables

Time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour for marinating chive oil (add 5 minutes for baby)


  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound gray sole filets
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal or polenta
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or fine, dry, unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1 pound gray sole filets
  • 6 fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 bunch baby carrots, peeled with about 1/2 inch of green tops left on, or use the
  • smallest regular carrots you can find
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced diagonally into slices as thick as diameter of the carrots
  • 2 tablespoons butter

For adults' meal:

Note: Limit the amount of salt added to foods you will be sharing with your child until after the child's portion has been set aside.

  • For adults: In a blender or food processor, combine the chives, 1 garlic clove, and 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Puree until smooth. Set aside for at least 1 hour or overnight. Strain and discard solids, reserving the oil.
  • Place a large saucepan of water over high heat to bring to a boil, and add peppercorns, bay leaf, and remaining garlic clove. Place the eggs on a large plate and stir with a fork. On another large plate, combine the flour, cornmeal, bread crumbs, and cheese. Mix well. Dredge the sole filets in the egg, then in the flour mixture until well coated. Set aside on a plate.
  • When the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes. Four minutes later, add the carrots. One minute later, add the zucchini. Continue to boil until the potatoes are tender when tested with a knife, about 3 more minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse well with very cold water to stop the cooking. Pick through vegetables and discard the peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaf.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, place one very large skillet (or two smaller skillets) over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter to the large skillet (or 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to each of two skillets). When the oil is very hot and the butter foam is starting to subside, gently slide the filets into the pan and fry, without moving, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown second side for about 3 more minutes. When both sides are browned, set aside a portion for baby, then arrange the remaining filets in the center of two plates; keep warm.
  • Mix vegetables with a few tablespoons of chive oil. Mix well and set aside a portion for baby. Place a portion of dressed vegetables over each of the filets plated for adults, and drizzle a line of chive oil around the perimeter of each plate. Season the adults' food generously with salt and pepper.

For baby's meal

Note: Before serving this meal to your baby, make sure the baby has tried fish and had no allergic reaction. Parents should never leave a child eating solid foods unattended.

  • For baby: Peel the reserved zucchini and potatoes reserved for baby and discard skins. Place vegetables in a food mill or food processor and pulse until smooth. Mash and flake fish with a fork, making certain that the fish pieces are peasized or smaller, and very soft and free of bones.
  • Stir fish pieces together with vegetables and moisten, if desired, with olive oil, water, milk or formula -- or allow baby to dip bite-sized fish pieces into vegetable puree. Before serving, take a bite yourself to be sure consistency it is soft and bites are small enough.

Yield: 2 adult servings and 1 for baby at least 10 months old

Source: The New York Times