One easy way to get your baby to eat a variety of foods from early on is to add spices and herbs! So say no to bland baby foods and start experimenting with the many ways you can use your spice pantry to add flavor and variety!
By doing so, it's going to help develop and expand your baby’s flavor preferences and to make the transition to family foods that much easier!
When to Introduce Herbs and Spices to Baby
Short answer - from the beginning.
Myth: You must start with bland rice cereals or other foods.
Fact: This recommendation is not based on research. Did you know that babies have more tastebuds than us? They want flavor just like us!
According to research that studied how babies respond to different concentrations of garlic in their mother’s breastmilk, it was found that babies stayed attached to the breast for longer periods of time and sucked more with higher amounts! Fascinating, right?
So remember, when someone tells you that your baby can’t handle flavored foods, they’ve already been introduced to them in the womb through the amniotic fluid and breastmilk.
This is why what mothers eat during pregnancy will not only nourish their babies in the womb but may shape food preferences later in life.
To go from flavorful breastmilk to bland baby food is a step in the wrong direction.
So don’t be afraid to liven up your baby’s food with herbs and spices from the beginning. Fresh or dried, they're such a great, simple way to add flavor without the use of sugar and salt, which you should stay away from.
- Increases acceptance of a wider variety of foods during this critical window of opportunity when they’re most willing to try new foods. In other words, it may help minimize picky eating as they grow.
- Makes the transition to family foods easier, which means simpler and more enjoyable mealtimes. Continuous exposure leads to familiarity which leads to acceptance
- Health benefits - herbs and spices are full of antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, and much more!
Tips for adding herbs and spices
- Keep it simple at first. Start with 1 seasoning added in small amounts to not overpower the food.
- Fresh herbs: wash and mince or finely chop before adding to foods.
- Dried herbs: start building your spice pantry if you don’t already have one. Once you have a well-stocked assortment of flavorings, the world truly is your oyster! You’ll be able to whip up flavorful dishes in no time.
- storage: keep them in a cool, dry place away from light. This is because moisture, heat, and direct light can diminish the flavor of the spices.
- shelf life: they don’t technically expire but will start to lose flavor over time. In general, when stored properly, they can last for a year. Do check for discoloration and lack of scent.
- Some spices and most blends have added salt so be sure to read the ingredients.
- There’s no need to avoid spicy seasonings. But do stick with the mild to moderate spice levels and again, start small. Of course, if your baby shows any kind of reaction or intolerance, you should avoid.
- Just because you don’t care for certain flavors, don’t assume your baby won’t either. Perhaps in trying to expand your baby’s palate, yours may as well!
- Have fun together trying out different flavor combinations!
- Expect your baby to make faces. This doesn’t mean they don’t like it. Rather they’re becoming accustomed to the taste. So keep offering!
- Keep experimenting! You’ll soon develop your flavor intuition and know just how to “season to taste” or adjust a dish that doesn’t sing to you.
Suggested Vegetable and Spice Pairings
Introduce your baby to diverse and rich tastes from early on! By doing so, you're helping your baby to establish healthy eating habits that will continue well beyond childhood!
Suggested Protein and Spice Pairings
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