Updated: Aug 20
When it comes to introducing solid foods to babies, the first thing you might think of something plain and often quite bland like baby rice. Even with fruits and vegetables these tend to be quite simple things such a sweet potato, carrot or apple.
Some questions I get asked frequently are "When can I introduce my baby to more flavours?" "What about pepper for babies, is that safe?"and "When can I introduce them to delicious the curries and Mexican food that I love so much?"
Well with the exception of very hot chilies, there is no reason why you can’t introduce your baby to some herbs and spices from around 6 months of age. As salt needs to be avoided in cooking for babies under 12 months of age, herbs and spices are a great way to season food and add in some excitement. As baby led weaning is all about giving your baby the same food as the rest of the family, using herbs and spices in place of salt means you can cook a dish that the whole family can share and enjoy, without losing out on any flavour that you're used to.
Here are five to get you started and feeling more confident to incorporate herbs and spices into your babies food.
You can add cinnamon into so many sweet dishes things like porridge or on eggy bread or mixed into pancake batter. Or why not try defrosting some frozen berries with a little bit of cinnamon. Cinnamon also makes a brilliant additional to savoury food, like curries and veggie tagine - Baby Loves Veg has a delicious tagine recipe to try.
To add to your babies food start with a small sprinkle until they get used to the flavour. Just don’t let your baby eat a whole teaspoon of cinnamon at once!
Rosemary is a wonderful herb to introduce either fresh or dried to your baby. Using fresh herbs gives your baby a real sensory experience, with a chance to smell and touch it before tasting. One of my favourite ways to use rosemary is adding it to potatoes when I roast them - which also make a great finger food.
Basil is another herb that is a brilliant one to introduce fresh to your baby. There are so many kinds of basil that you can grow from seed at home - an ideal way to introduce your baby to gardening and growing food. They can smell, touch and taste the raw basil before you mix into pasta or any tomato dishes. Happy Veggie Kitchen has a great recipe for broccoli, avocado and basil puree to try - you could use it as a dip too.
This is one of my store cupboard essentials. There are lots of different types of paprika, so for babies try to avoid the hot ones and go instead for a sweet or smoky paprika. Paprika is a great flavour to add into any Mexican dishes or bean-based meals. One of my favourite foods to cook with paprika is sweet potato wedges, but it also goes fantastically well in a frittata!
Mint is another herb that is super easy to grow at home and you can get many different varieties. Just make sure to plant it in a small pot or container as it can spread like wildfire if planted in the ground. It’s a great herb for squash in between your fingers, smelling and nibbling on.
Fresh mint tastes great when added into green veg, such as peas, green beans or courgette. Or for something a little different try it with something sweet, like fresh raspberries or strawberries. Joe Wicks has a great Courgette, Pea and Mint puree recipe in his Wean In 15 book.
So there you have it, five simple idea to get you started with introducing your baby to herbs and spices. There are quite literally hundreds of herbs and spices so you and your baby have a long journey ahead of you to taste them all. Weaning is the perfect opportunity to try something new yourself, so be adventurous with your flavour combinations - babies have no judgement when it comes to food, and you can quite literally try anything! Keep in mind that babies respond to your reactions and facial expressions when eating, so introduce new tastes positively and with excitement - you can read more about staying positive at mealtimes in my blog post here.
If you’re just about to start weaning and you aren’t sure how to introduce different flavours why not book onto my online weaning course. In the course we will cover everything you need to know to get started and feel confident introducing food solids to your baby, and decide whether to use traditional purees or if you should go down the baby led weaning route. You can book your place here.