Ban bland baby food! Little ones should be savouring tasty and varied meals packed with flavour, and the best way to get them experimenting is through introducing spices to, literally, spice up their meals.
When it comes to weaning, I always encourage families (spoon-fed or baby led) to trial and error with herbs and mild spices. Not only will it expand little palettes, but it will inspire adventurous eating and a lifelong passion for food.
Since we should avoid adding salt and sugar before the age of one, spices offer the perfect antidote to help pack in the flavour to your baby’s diet. It also allows babies to get used to a range of flavours at a time when they are open to experimenting with new tastes. And it’s a great transition into family food. Plus, if they’ve been exposed to a variety of flavours from the start, they are more likely to accept more in the future!
Keep reading to find out when, how and why to introduce spices…
When to introduce your baby to spices?
Whether opting for spoon-fed or baby-led weaning, I always encourage parents to introduce herbs and spices from the get-go of their weaning journey. Before starting solids, often breastfed babies have already been introduced to a variety of spices and flavours through their mother’s diet. So, if mum enjoys spicy and flavoursome foods, then baby will too via her milk!
Flavour and spice and all things nice will spruce up baby’s diet without adding salt or sugar (which should be avoided before one), so the sooner you start the better!
How to introduce your baby to spices?
I always encourage parents to start things slowly by beginning with aromatic spices such as mint, paprika, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander cardamom and cumin. Try to steer clear of anything too spicy such as cayenne pepper or chilli as it may upset little tums – there’s a big difference between flavour and hotness!
It’s best to introduce a small amount, like a pinch for example, before building up quantity as resilience grows. Often a little goes a long way, so by avoiding adding too much you’ll ensure that the flavour and aroma doesn’t overpower your little one’s meal. Also, it’s important to ensure that any whole spices used during cooking are removed before being served to baby. As with most parts of the weaning journey, it’s all about trial and error… and persistence! It often takes multiple attempts before baby accepts and even likes a new flavour, so don’t be deterred by them initially rejecting new tastes!
Why should you introduce your baby to spices?
- They add flavour and aroma to food without adding salt or sugar
- Exposing little ones to variety will help them appreciate different tastes and hopefully become adventurous eaters in the long run!
- Spices can help boost immunity and fight the common cold
- The same meal can be enjoyed by the entire family without having to cook up different recipes
- Spices quite literally spice up mealtimes and help enhance flavour and overall experience!