Feeding baby spices helps baby become an adventurous eater. Here's what you need to know about feeding baby spices, including some of our favorite spices for babies.
There's no need to limit your baby to blander foods – it's perfectly fine to feed your baby spices. In fact, adding variety with spices brings unique benefits for baby. Here's what you need to know about feeding baby spices, including some of our favorite spices for babies.
Can you feed baby spices?
Can babies have spices? The answer is a resounding yes, so don't be afraid to use spices to make your baby's meals more flavorful.
In fact, feeding baby a wide variety of flavors, including spices and herbs, helps expand their palates and encourages a lifetime of adventurous eating!
And if certain spices are part of your family's favorite meals, introduce them to baby and pass down the flavors your family loves.
Introducing spices will help your baby learn to love both your own family's favorites and foods from cultural traditions outside your family's. The sooner they’re introduced to spices, the more open they’ll be to these and other varied flavors.
When can babies start having spices?
Babies can start having spices in their food as soon as they've been introduced to a handful of different solids – as early as 4-6 months of age.
Families around the world feed their babies spiced foods right as they start solids, giving them a taste of their cultural traditions from the beginning.
And if you're breastfeeding and you enjoy foods with spices, your breastmilk takes on the spices' flavors. This means baby is already getting a taste of the spices you love through your breastmilk! Tasting these spices in breastmilk will also help them grow to love the same foods you do.
You may have heard that you should wait until 8-9 months to introduce spices in baby's solids, but that guidance is purely based on minimizing stomach upsets. It's perfectly fine to feed baby spices before the 8 month mark. If your baby tolerates several different foods without getting an upset stomach, that's a sign they'll be able to handle spices.
How to feed spices to baby
Spices are an awesome way to add flavor to baby's foods without using salt or sugar. After all, baby shouldn't have any added sugar in their diet, and they shouldn't have much sodium (salt).
Homemade meals are a great opportunity to introduce spices, as many store-bought brands of baby food don't contain spices or herbs.
However you choose to introduce spices, wait at least 2-3 days between introducing each new spice, and feed only one new spice at a time. That way, it's easier to gauge how baby reacts to each spice.
Start with a small pinch of each spice, as a little goes a long way. Then, add more as baby gets experience with the spice, until you've increased up to the level of spice your family usually adds into food.
For babies under a year old, start by flavoring purees or baby-led weaning meals with the spices your family enjoys most. Then expand to other spices to widen your baby's exposure to new flavors.
Once your toddler is over a year old, you can start feeding them the same meals that your family eats, with the same spices inside. (Modify the meal as needed to avoid choking hazards, and to avoid added sugar and salt.)
Our favorite spices to feed baby
Here are some of our favorite spices to introduce to baby, plus suggestions for foods you can mix them into.
Turmeric: This golden spice goes great with veggies like carrots, peas and squash, or with meats like chicken and beef. It's often a base used in curry powder, so it's a great introduction to curry flavors.
Ginger: Ginger pairs well with fruits like peaches, plums, and mango, but it also makes for a flavorful combo with chicken and salmon. Or, why not mix ginger into baby's oatmeal?
Cinnamon: Spice up your baby's fruit purees with warm, fragrant cinnamon. Applesauce and cinnamon's a classic combo, but why not give cinnamon to baby with other fruits like plums and pears, or even "sweeter" veggies like sweet potato and pumpkin? You can also use cinnamon to spice up baby's yogurt or oatmeal.
Cardamom: Cardamom is in the ginger family, and is versatile enough to pair well with sweet and savory foods. Try it with peas, beans, sweet potatoes, yogurt, mango, banana, and more.
Paprika: Even though paprika is a blend of peppers, the kind of paprika commonly found in spice aisles is on the sweet side. Try mixing this one in with savory veggies.
Ground Cumin: Cumin is a common spice in Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern dishes. Try adding ground cumin to avocado, lentils, potatoes, eggplants, or even a "salsa" blend of tomatoes, bell peppers and onions.
Nutmeg: This classic fall spice pairs well with squash, pumpkin, zucchini, spinach, and kale.
Cloves: Cloves are ground up flower buds, and they have a bold but warm flavor. Mix them with peaches or pears, or spice up baby's meats.
Basil: Basil's an herb, but since it goes great with veggies like green beans, zucchini and carrots, as well as meats, it's worth including on this list. Or, why not mix things up and combine basil with pureed blueberries, raspberries, or peaches?
Are there any spices you should avoid feeding baby?
Avoid feeding baby spice blends mixed with salt. Babies don't need extra salt in their diet – they should be eating a diet low in sodium.
You should also use caution when feeding baby "hot" spices (such as chili peppers). That doesn't mean you have to completely avoid feeding baby these spices, though.
If your family enjoys "hot spicy" foods, you can still introduce these spices. Just start with a very small amount to gauge your baby's reaction, and increase the spice level little by little if baby doesn't seem to mind the spice. Before long, they'll be enjoying the same spice levels you do!
Note: Some very hot peppers, like habaneros, could irritate baby's skin, mouth, or stomach. Stick to mild or moderate chili peppers instead.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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