Stages of Weaning: 5 Safe Herbs and Spices for Babies
One of the most exciting stages of weaning is moving on from simple, plain and bland foods. Bring on the flavour with some herbs and spices!
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 "Is garlic ok for babies?" "Can babies eat pepper?"or "When can I give my baby curry?" then read on. Here are five different herbs and spices that you can give to your baby from the start of weaning.
When I can give herbs and spices to my baby?
You can introduce your baby to most herbs and spices from around 6 months of age.
Salt needs to be avoided for babies under 12 months of age, so herbs and spices are a great way to add flavour.
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.
Can babies have cinnamon?
You can add cinnamon into so many sweet dishes things like porridge or on eggy bread or mixed into pancake batter.
Why not try defrosting some frozen berries, and mixing with a little bit of cinnamon. Cinnamon also makes a brilliant additional to savoury food, like curries and vegetable 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!
Is rosemary ok for babies?
Rosemary is a wonderful herb to use either fresh or dried in the early stages of weaning. 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!
Make sure to offer your baby some water alongside their meals. When you are offering spices, remember a little can go a long way, and what is bland to you could be strong for your baby.
Water for babies - read the blog.
Mint for 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.
You might have heard about the food challenge '100 foods before 1' - read my thoughts and how you can increase the flavour and variety in your babies food
What spices should babies avoid?
The only things that you really need to avoid at the start of weaning are very hot ones - like chilli, cayenne pepper, hot paprika. Or ready made spice mixes that might include added salt.
However, if you are used to having a lot of chilli in your diet regularly, then chances are that your baby may be quicker to accept this as well. Science tells us that babies are exposed to flavour in the womb and through breastmilk.
Whenever you feel ready to start introducing these hotter spices, keep it small to begin with - you can always add more.
Stages of weaning - introduce flavour
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 in the early stages 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.