Herbs in Homemade Baby Food

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Herbs and spices in everyday food are an important part of my life. They are used frequently in my kitchen. I introduced my daughter to solid food at 6 months. She started with regular baby food, all purees. After a point, she stopped having those. She was more interested in the food that was in my plate then hers. So I searched for spices that were safe for babies. I found some and started adding them to her food. Just a Dash made a big difference. She finished all her food without any fuss. A Little bit of spice and the result was a happy baby and mommy. Adding aromatic spices to her baby food, has made a lot of difference to her eating habits. Today at the age of 19 months, she is an avid eater.

We live in the world full of cultural diversities.There is an influence of various cultures on our lives in one way or the other. One of that influence is food. If given a choice, you would, of course, go in for something that’s flavorful, instead of something completely bland. Then why should our babies have food, that’s bland and tasteless? Babies all around the world are introduced to herbs and spices at a very young age. In countries like India, Latin American and Middle East, babies are introduced to a variety of food, with added seasonings. This not only helps in expanding their palate but also gives a boost of antioxidants to baby’s developing system. Aromatic spices also help in avoiding the use of added salt and sugar to baby food as flavoring agents. 

Aromatic spices and seasoning are already introduced to babies when they breastfeed. When a mother has her meal full of seasoning, those flavors get mixed with the milk and are passed on to the baby. And then, later giving bland and processed food to a baby is quite unfair.  So making your own baby food with added herbs makes more sense.

At this stage, spices are used as “Aromatics”. There is a difference between “Aromatic and “Hot” spices. Aromatic herbs and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, coriander, garlic, turmeric, cumin,  cardamom, oregano, rosemary, dill, mace etc add its unique aroma to the food. There is no “HOT” element in them. So they are perfectly fine to be introduced to baby food. “HOT” part of the spices stimulate the pain receptors on the tongue. Infants might have a strong reaction to these hot spices like all kind of chilies and peppers, which can lead to an aversion of that particular food in which it’s added. 

While introducing herbs and spices to baby food, it is important to take it slow. A dash or a pinch initially goes a long way. When I first introduced my daughter to aromatic spices, I waited for 4 to 5 days, watched out for any kind of reaction and then went on to another herb/spice. I started with adding cinnamon and cardamon powder to fruit purees. Then went on to garlic and other fragrant spices for vegetables. Every fruit and vegetable have its own distinct taste and smell. Adding herbs enhances it taste and flavor and makes more palatable for babies. For instance, steamed broccoli can be a big turn off for your baby. But a steamed broccoli with added garlic powder and cumin powder, can be a flavorful bet. 

Hence, adding herbs and spices to your regular baby food will enhance the flavor and also help in the early introduction to different taste and texture of food with aromas as well. This can help develop a palate, which is more adventurous and ready to experiment with food. So next time when you serve apple and oats puree, try adding a pinch of cinnamon powder to it. You won’t regret it, that’s for sure.

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