INTRODUCING SOLID FOODS - 5 HERBS AND SPICES THAT ARE SAFE FOR WEANING BABIES
When it comes to introducing solid foods to babies, first foods can often be quite simple, plain and bland. This makes sense, as babies have been used to milk for around 6 months, which is a fairly neutral, slightly sweet, flavour.
If you enjoy cooking then knowing when it is safe to use herbs for baby food is important. As is knowing whether there are any safe spices for baby food. After all, you want your baby to be eating the foods that you eat.
So if, like many of my clients, you are wondering "How can I add flavour to baby food?" "What about pepper for babies, is that safe?"or "When can I give my baby curry?" then read on, to see five different herbs and spices that you can start using in your babies food from the start.
First Foods - When I can give herbs and spices to my baby?
You can introduce your baby to many herbs and spices from around 6 months of age.
Salt needs to be avoided for babies under 12 months of age. Herbs and spices are a great alternative way to season food.
Baby-led weaning, in particular, is all about giving your baby the same food as the rest of the family. By using herbs and spices in place of salt, you can cook a dish that the whole family can enjoy.
Using cinnamon for flavour
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.
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 for babies
Rosemary is a wonderful herb to use either fresh or dried when introducing solids 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. Roasted potato wedges also make a great finger food.
Remember to stay with your baby when they are exploring food, and watch for any sharp, woody bits.
Using basil in baby 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. This is 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. Or try blitzing together with some oil, pine nuts and garlic for a very simple vegan pesto - perfect for pasta!
Can babies have paprika?
Absolutely babies can have paprika! This is one of my store cupboard essentials.
There are lots of different types of paprika available. When first introducing solid foods, avoid the hot ones and go instead for sweet or smoky.
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. And it goes fantastically well in a frittata!
Giving mint to babies
Mint is another herb that is super easy to grow at home and you can get many different varieties. 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 squashing 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.
Start introducing solid foods
So there you have it, five simple ideas to get you started with using herbs and spices when introducing solid foods to your little one.
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!
If you are looking for more inspiration for foods to introduce at the start of weaning, then have a read of my A-Z of weaning foods!
Keep in mind that babies respond to your reactions and facial expressions when eating, so introduce new tastes positively and with excitement. Read more about staying positive at mealtimes.
What next? Joining a weaning workshop
If you’re feeling unsure about how to introduce different flavours why not book onto my online weaning course?
We cover everything you need to know to get started and feel confident introducing food solids to your baby. I will help you decide whether to use traditional purees or if you should go down the baby-led weaning route.
Helen attended the workshop when she was preparing to introduce solids to her second child. She said "a comprehensive and informative workshop delivered clearly and with passion by an experienced nutritionist and fellow Mama! A very worthwhile workshop that has given me the tools to wean my daughter with confidence. Thanks Katie for all your help!