Guide to using herbs in cooking for your little ones.
By Alice Fotheringham, Piccolo’s infant nutrition specialist.
I often get dubious looks as I start liberally sprinkling cinnamon into porridge, or adding pinches of cumin into stews for little babies, but adding everyday herbs and spices to liven up your baby’s food is a wonderful way to expand your baby’s taste buds and get them familiar with the taste of family food. Baby food does not have to be bland, and using herbs and spices and ingredients such as garlic are a great way of adding flavour without using salt.
When is the best time to introduce babies to herbs and spice?
You can start right away from 6 months with common household herbs and spices, including a little finely ground black pepper, or a tiny pinch of paprika or chilli it’s how babies in Mexico are given avocado with a little lime from a very early age! It is a common myth that babies like and should be given bland foods. Yes, their palettes are unaccustomed to these new and exciting flavours, and everything will taste so much stronger to them than to us – just look at videos of baby’s sucking on lemons! However, these expressions do not mean they do not like the powerful new strong flavours – far from it!
It will amaze you the flavours they enjoy from very first tastes; from sour goat’s yoghurt and lemons, to bitter foods such as olives or endives. While babies, like us, are individuals, with unique preferences and dislikes, we also shape our babies’ enjoyment of foods through repeated exposure. The enjoyment of salty, bitter, sour and spicy are created through repetition. You may find that your baby embraces these new flavours instantly, or, you may find your baby will grow to like these over time through repeated exposure; so have patience if bitter or green foods aren’t enjoyed immediately. It can take up to 12 times for a baby to take on a new food.
Adding ingredients such as garlic and herbs to dishes is a great way to add flavour without using salt. So go ahead and give your baby foods with flavour. Especially if you eat a lot of foods with herbs and spices yourself, you will find the transition of your baby onto family food a lot smoother.
What herbs & Spices can I add to my baby’s food?
Fresh or dried, the types of herbs and spices you may add to baby’s foods is entirely up to you, but here are a few great herbs and spices to try. Start with a pinch, and go from there!