It’s summertime and guess what… no one wants to have to stay inside when it’s beautiful and sunny out!
That being said, when you have a BLW baby, sometimes the hassle of figuring out what to feed them while traveling, or on-the-go, seems like it’s more work than it’s worth. But it doesn’t have to be stressful!
I’ve got a list of easy, MINIMAL MESS and portable baby finger food ideas you can pack as a snack, or combine to make meals. Keep reading for 12 easy options for baby led weaning foods while on-the-go!
I know how hard it can be to think of what to feed your baby when traveling, on the road, or out having fun at summer activities. That’s why I came up with this list – I’m all about making things easier for you!
These foods work whether you’re on a plane, at the park, or at a restaurant. While the occasional purée pouch, other store-bought baby food option, or even homemade baby food in a reusable package, will always have its benefits (hellooo convenience and mess-free eating!), packing whole foods means that you don’t have to deal with wrappers and messy containers or utensils. Plus, you’ll be continuing to expose your baby led weaning baby to a variety of real food, real flavors and advanced textures.
I’m a big proponent of minimizing processed foods for babies (and adults!) as much as possible, as well as keeping those more advanced texture exposures coming. I FULLY understand that it’s hard – time doesn’t allow for it sometimes – and that a bit here and there won’t hurt.
But helping you keep it top of mind as you navigate this world of feeding your babe is my job, so this list will hopefully help take away the guesswork as to what can fit into this category of foods.
Travel Food for Babies should be mess-free!
The above is definitely not a scenario you want to get stuck in when out and about with your baby! While it’s super cute and funny when it happens at home, this is less than ideal on a plane, or in a restaurant, for example.
That’s why, in general, most people are looking for mess-free foods (or minimal mess… nothing is really mess-free with baby led weaning). For this reason, I like to recommend avoiding anything with sauce, that’s in a casserole type format, or anything that requires a utensil unless you’re feeding the baby yourself (and they let you). Think yogurt, applesauce…that type of thing.
Nothing is more messy than a baby refusing to let you spoon feed them and then dunking their hands into a container of applesauce!
And while I know moms love to be prepared for the worst – and often pack more for an outing than is needed. Let’s save those extra clothes for blowouts…those happen when you least expect it and you don’t want to have wasted your spare outfit on a messy meal!
So here’s some examples. If you pack meat, make it plain chicken. If you pack pasta, keep it plain with no sauce to minimize mess. If you pack fruit, opt for a banana or freeze dried varieties over messy ripe berries. That type of thing.
With that being said, here are my go-to baby led weaning travel foods.
The best travel baby food options for baby led weaning
One thing I want to make sure you keep in mind is the age and development of your baby. Some of these options are going to require pincer grasp…so if your baby is just starting out on solid foods, they won’t be ready for these options yet.
Make sure you choose the options that are in finger shapes so they aren’t struggling to eat, because this will just end in frustration for both of you. If your baby is a bit older and already has their pincer grasp developed, or is practicing it, any of these options will be a good fit!
Nothing beats a food that comes in its own packaging! Need I say more?
Canned Beans or Chickpeas
No need to cook! Just rinse, dump into a container, and go! I like to buy ones that are canned with a BPA free lining, and that have no added salt, especially when offering to babies because we need to be a bit more cautious when it comes to salt for babies (but I don’t want you to panic either, just give them an extra rinse and monitor salt intake over the rest of the day/next day to balance things out).
You may want to slightly smush chickpeas before offering, just to be extra safe. Depending on your baby’s skill level, and how soft they are, they can be a choking hazard.
Cheese is a great source of protein for babies, as well as a good source of fat – both of which babies need for proper growth and development. And as an added bonus, it’s usually a favorite amongst most babies!
Please note that I’m recommending shredded cheese, not slices. Slices can be a choking hazard for babies, as it can be difficult to cut the cheese in a thin layer so it won’t pose a risk. Therefore, shredded is best, especially in the beginning as you just start baby led weaning. Watch this video below for more info on how to safely prepare cheese for babies.
Freeze Dried Fruit
Like I mentioned above, fruit is a great option, but you’re gonna want to stick with mess-free varieties!
Freeze-dried berries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and therefore pair nicely with beans to boost iron absorption – something babies need a lot of! And if you pair that with the pasta and shredded cheese, you have all the pieces of my FFP+P rule for a complete, balanced meal that’s perfect for baby led weaning!
While freeze-dried berries are great for this, fresh berries are not great from a mess-free perspective. So, freeze-dried fruit for the win! It will literally hold up in any weather (no need to pack a cooler), and is mess-free!
A similar alternative would be to pack yogurt-based melts – they’re typically freeze-dried as well so they’re not messy like packing yogurt would be! Our favorites are the Amara Smoothie Melts. These are actually plant-based, so if your little one has an allergy or sensitivity to dairy these will be perfectly fine for them too. They have no added sugars, fillers, or other additives – just simple, clean ingredients which we love! They come in lots of yummy flavors with various fruits and veggies blended right in and they come in a resealable bag, making them perfect for snacking on the go. Check them out here and use code LITTLEEATER15 for 15% off your purchase.
Baby Led Weaning Toast Strips
Super easy for on-the-go! Just toast bread and cut into thin strips – coat with a bit of butter to soften them up slightly. But, for the sake of mess-free travel foods, avoid things like nut butter or hummus, unless you’re able to wash up somewhere!
Remember, fresh, untoasted bread is a choking hazard. If you’re looking for more info on toasting bread for your baby and serving it in a safe manner, check out this post all about toast toppings for babies and toddlers.
Sounds complicated, but I’m actually going to suggest that you keep a bunch of these prepped ahead of time for easy meal ideas throughout the week. I personally always keep some on-hand in my fridge for snacks or quick meals. I make a big batch a couple times per week, and pull from it as needed.
If you’re able to set aside the time to meal prep these (listen to my other fav meal prepping tips here) then there’s nothing easier than just putting these in a container and offering them to your baby, any time of day.
Some good veggies to try are bell peppers and zucchini. I’d avoid things like roasted sweet potato because it becomes so mushy that your baby will end up with orange mash all over them!
Baby Pancakes (only 3 ingredients!)
Ok, this one involves some cooking, but I swear it’s easy!
Mix together 1 ripe banana, 2 eggs, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of coconut oil. Scoop batter into a skillet and cook on low-medium heat until lightly brown, flipping once when you can see bubbles along the outer edge. Let them cool, cut into strips, and pack into a container. There you have it – simple, baby banana pancakes for on-the-go!
I know this goes against what I just said above, but hear me out. There are fruits that are less messy that you can bring. Stewed pears or apples would be my top choice – no staining! You can also do kiwi wedges, plums, or oranges. These may be ever so slightly messy in that there may be a bit of fruit juice running on your baby’s hands, but nothing a baby wipe can’t handle.
I stand by my comment that fresh berries are just too messy – mashed bits of berry plus juice that stains…no thanks! But if you’re feeling risky – go for it!
Another super simple iron and protein source for your baby! You have two options here…
- Pan fry tofu for 1-2 minutes on each side. Include a bit of flavor in there too for your baby, try some turmeric, dill, or paprika. Let cool, and pack in a container to go!
- I love using Soyganic smoked tofu as another option – it’s non-gmo, organic and there’s no need to cook it. Just slice it, pack, and go. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
Tofu is my favorite to-go protein! It’s the perfect texture for a baby, no crumbly mess, and offers lots of calcium and protein! Plus, pair it with a fruit high in vitamin C, like some freeze dried strawberries, and you’ve got a great source of iron too!
Thawed Peas (from frozen)
No need to cook these! Just dump some frozen peas into a container and let them thaw out over a couple hours until ready to eat. Plus, the cold peas keep everything else you pack nice and cold too. Fast food at its finest!
And I know what you’re thinking…peas need to be mashed right? No, they don’t. They’re actually not considered a choking hazard because they’re so soft and are so easily mashed in your baby’s mouth. It’s round, hard foods that you want to look out for, think like grapes. But if it makes you feel more comfortable, there’s no harm in giving them a quick squish before offering them to your baby.
One more yummy option is a homemade muffin, or mini muffins, – and I’ve got two ideas for them.
Option 1: Bake a tasty pastry muffin for your baby.
Choose baby led weaning recipes with no honey and no added sugar, besides some fruit. You can even freeze muffins and pull them from the freezer anytime you need one in a jiffy. One of my favorites, that’s popular with toddlers too, are shrek muffins – check out the recipe here.
Option 2: Egg muffins!
These are also great to keep in the freezer and pull out when you need them. I have a recipe available in my 60 Day Baby Led Feeding Meal plan – take a look here to get access to over 80 baby led weaning recipes perfect for your baby and family! Now, with this option you will need to pack those in a cooler, but there’s no mess and tons of nutrition so they make one of the most perfect on-the-go meal ideas!
Travel Baby Food: Top Tips
Now that you have some meal ideas for what to feed your baby while on-the-go, let’s go over some of the other important details.
What About Food Safety for Travel Baby Food Options?
While you absolutely need to consider whether a food needs to be kept cold or not, you don’t need to worry about serving it cold or hot. Don’t stress if you can’t heat some of these foods up, room temperature is fine.
With the exception of maybe the eggs, although I’ve definitely seen toddlers eat eggs at room temperature, as long as you follow food safety rules, they’re fine to eat that way.
Which leads me to my next point. If you’re out for more than 4 hours, or you’re traveling in the heat, make sure you throw an ice pack in your bag to preserve the food for longer. Babies are more susceptible to food borne illnesses, so you don’t want to take any risks with their food, just pack the ice pack (or frozen peas).
How Many Finger Foods to Pack for Baby Led Weaning While Traveling
Something to keep in mind when traveling with a baby led weaning baby (or any day, even at home), is that babies don’t need snacks between 6-10 months of age. After that, they need no more than 1, maybe 2 solid food snacks.
Check out my schedules for how many meals to offer based on their age, including milk feedings as well, here.
This means that if the time comes and your baby is hungry, breast milk or formula will continue to do the job most times! It may just be main meals, and as mentioned, 1-2 solid food snacks (maybe one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon) that you offer as they get closer and closer to one year of age.
So, really you don’t need to pack very much, especially if you’re just starting your baby on solids. I’d go with a few pieces of each food that you’re bringing per meal. And remember, if they eat all of it and they still seem hungry – don’t fret! Breast milk or formula can fill in this gap for now. They won’t starve, and it won’t cause any confusion or anything else you may hear – promise.
What to Bring (Besides Travel Baby Food Options)
As much as we prepare for no-mess meal ideas, we also need to prepare for our baby to surprise us and make a mess anyways…it’s just what they do! So make sure you also pack…
Safety Tips When Feeding BLW Baby On-The-Go
Feeding babies comes with a risk no matter where you are, or what type of feeding you’re doing (purées or baby led weaning).
That being said, when on-the-go, you should be extra careful of choking, especially if your baby is not seated in a proper highchair, or is moving around while eating. Both of which are likely when you’re out and about doing fun things – it happens!
Here are my major tips to keep in mind…
1. Seat baby in someone else’s lap, if possible.
That’s right, let grandma or grandpa get some snuggles while the baby eats, because choking is usually a silent occurrence. This way, you have the best front view of your baby eating to make sure you catch anything happening right away in case, God forbid, they begin to choke.
That’s why I recommend having someone else hold them in their lap while you do the feeding, so you can watch them better that way.
It also helps if you’re prepared ahead of time by taking an infant CPR course. Our favorite online option is by Safe Beginnings – it’s taught by a certified instructor and child safety expert, so you’re getting the best info available to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Take 20% off with code MYLITTLEEATER and enroll here!
2. Pull over before feeding in the car.
If required to feed in the car, try and pull over while feeding. Feeding in a car is not my favorite, but I know that sometimes it’s just unavoidable. A moving car is even more of a risk, so if you can, pull over first before offering food.
Feeding while in a moving car can increase their choking risk as bumps and turns can cause babies to lose control of the food in their mouth making it more likely to become lodged in their throat.
And then you have to find a safe space to pull over to have enough room to perform any kind of maneuver on your baby, which takes up precious time, and that’s not a panic I want you to experience ever.
My second point on this is that I really don’t recommend feeding in a car seat, if at all possible, anyway. Again, your baby is not in the correct position for feeding, they aren’t fully upright. This means that their airway isn’t fully open, which again, can increase their choking risk.
Instead, try to find a safe place to park where you can get out of the car to stretch your legs, and take your baby out to sit on someone’s lap to feed. At least this way they’re able to sit upright and have an open airway.
3. Avoid feeding in a stroller.
I think we’re seeing a theme here, but again, keep them sitting upright. So if a highchair isn’t available, someone else’s lap is the next best option as opposed to a stroller, car seat, etc.
Ok – there you have it! Keep things simple, remember that fast food can mean simple whole finger foods from home, and enjoy your summer out with your babe!
Want to learn how to feed your baby led weaning baby all these foods mentioned in this post, and more? Check out my Baby Led Feeding online course for a complete walk through on starting solids, including videos that show how to safely serve all foods like a pro!