Have you ever attempted eating (something more than tasting) baby foods? Have you felt them being bland? Many parents have this feeling but they remain confused on how to add flavours to baby food. As many started asking me on this I thought to share my experience and knowledge on what spices can be added to baby food,how can they be added and when should they be added? I have already mentioned a very detailed note on this under healthy home made baby food recipes and sample diet chart section. I shall keep updating this section with recipes on how to add spices in baby food. If you wish to receive them in your mail box please follow my blog my clicking here or liking my facebook page at www.facebook.com/KitchenKathukutty.
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This is a detailed write up after performing some real home work on adding spices to baby foods along with what I had known from my parents,elders,family,doctors,friends and books. I am not an expert in this. I am a mother who attempts to learn continually as my baby grows. Please have a word with your pediatrician and consider family allergies whenever you attempt anything new in your baby food. I shall add images of individual spices and share the vernacular names soon here.
Getting into the topic,as I started reading on resources I found introducing spices is being recommended as early as 6 months or as late as 9 months. Certain weaning approaches suggest to offer family foods with no sugar,salt,honey and milk till one year. In this approach all spices are introduced from day one of weaning as baby eats what the rest of the family eats. Spices in general can be added in baby food from seven to eight months and what spices to add largely depends on the culture. Don’t be surprised if someone says that their baby had even the first puree with a seasoning. It is no harm because the earlier the baby is introduced to food the lesser are the chances of allergies says few researches.However there is no rush either. Babies would have tasted flavours of all spices from mother’s milk depending on whatever spices the mother had taken. Spices does not mean red chilly and green chilly alone. It has a huge collection of members in the family like cumin,fennel,coriander,cilantro,basil,nutmeg,ginger,garlic,cinnamon,clove,ajwain and a lot more. I have gathered generalised points with respect to each spice and summarised here below. (In no particular order)
Cumin seeds are best known for aiding digestion,helps in curing constipation,congestion and boosts immunity. You can dry roast cumin seeds and make a fine powder of it and add a pinch to your baby food especially to potatoes,turnips in seventh month.
Your baby would have tasted garlic via mother’s milk if you had been loaded with garlic milk for lactation. I prefer adding a garlic while steaming veggies and mashing it together and this can also be added after seven months. Garlic is an antioxdiant and it helps in digestion,relieves gastric issues,helps in treating cold and cough. Garlic is one of the oldest known spice/herb in the world and always prefer to choose the smaller garlic variety. Be sure to have removed the skin completely.
Ginger boosts bone health,aids in digestion,strengthens immunity,relieves cold and cough and helps in improving appetite. You can add a small piece of ginger grated to your baby food from eighth month completion. The skin has to be removed completely.
Coriander seeds are known for their flavour and their excellent property to help in digestion. You can dry roast coriander seeds and make a fine powder and add to your baby purees/mash,soups,khicidi,dal rice. Coriander seeds are one of major ingredients in preparation of sambhar powder and rasam powder . You can include a pinch of coriander seed powder from eighth month onwards.
The flavour,colour and aroma of coriander leaves will drag you towards any dish. It is known as Kothamalli/Cilantro/Dhania too. It helps a lot in digestion,anemia,skin inflammation,diarrhea,cleans up your skin,cures mouth ulcers. Try to grind a leaf or two when you make puree/mash or add to dhal when you cook , add to sambhar after boiling , garnish your gravies/soups or make exclusive chutneys. This can be added after seven months.
When your baby begins to chew,offer a leaf or two daily in the morning to keep your baby’s teeth safe and away from cavities. Until then add to khicidis or while cooking veggies or make chutneys. Mint leaves can be given from seven months onwards. Be sure to have cleaned them well and they have to be really fresh.Mint leaves are excellent cleansers,helps in curing nausea,fatigue,aids oral care.
I found cinnamon as the most recommended spice for babies as it tends to add a sweet flavour and few suggest to add to the first apple/pear puree. But I did find cinnamon in the list of spices which might have a tendency to be allergic. Hence I would recommend you to have a word with your doctor and introduce post eight months. Make it a fine powder and add to your puree/mashes initially , later you can temper them and add all along seasonings. Cinnamon helps in digestion,curing cognitive disorders,fights against bacterial and fungal infections.
Cloves have to added in food when you temper or saute,and be sure to remove them while feeding babies. You can include cloves when baby completes eight months. Add a very small quantity.Cloves are rich vitamins and minerals. They are known for their usage in medicines and they cure indigestion , dental problems,head aches and helps in bone preservation and building immunity. It is actually herb which is used in anti cancer medicines,anti diabetic tablets.
Pepper usage for babies have so many opinions. I found that some suggest its usage in seventh month whereas few delay it till 10 months. It is due to capsaicin which is present in pepper which makes it hot. Try using it in moderation to avoid any adverse effects. Use it as a powder in soups , accompaniment with idly/ dosa ,add to your salads. It helps in digestion , curing respiratory problems,skin disorders,insect bites,peptic ulcers.
Nutmeg is known for its quality to reduce pain. You can grind this into a powder and add to baby food after 8 months. It aids in digestion brain development,oral health,skin health and cures sleeping disorders. You can add this as a powder to baby food after eight months.
My grandmother advises to include cardamom to every sweet variety we prepare at home. It improves digestion ,blood circulation, protects against dental problems , urinary tract infections. You can grind the seeds and store them. Add a pinch in your fruit and veggie mash,halwa,kheer. This can be included after seven months.
It is a very powerful spice and hence I would recommend to temper your baby foods and remove it while feeding. It can included after 8 months. Add to any khicidi or variety rice or gravy. It has powerful anti oxidant , anti septic , anti-spasmodic, properties.
Usage of red chilly or green chilly in very little quantities is advisable post eight months. However it can also be delayed till 18 months and pepper can be used instead to make food hot.
Hing is added to almost all south Indian Kulambu/Curry/Gravy/Rasam varieties. Prefer to buy solid hing and make powder of it,because powdered hing has added maida. Adding hing helps to avoid gastric problems especially with yams and pulses. It is known as an analgesic to relieve colic in babies and toddlers,helps in curing respiratory disorders,digestion problems,tooth aches and headaches. Please avoid excess usage as it might lead to nausea. This can be included after seven months
The best natural anti septic and natural colouring agent is turmeric. I have the habit adding turmeric to food whenever possible. It helps in digestion and it is known for its anti inflammatory and detoxifying porperties. You can use it after eight months but in moderation.
Dry ginger has a very strong medicinal value for ages. Make a powder of it and try adding to soups(a small pinch) or rasam when baby has cold. You will find a great increase in appetite when you begin using this. However using a very little quantity and very rarely post eight months is advisable for babies.
Ajwain seeds can directly be added to your roti dough or tempering. Ajwain greatly helps in digestion and it is an excellent body coolant. You can add ajwain seeds to boiling water and offer a spoon of water after baby eats. Consider the family history of allergies and climatic conditions. This can included in baby food after 7 months.
Fennel seeds have been used in our tradition to cure baby colic . Add a few fennel seeds when you temper your baby veggies or khicidi to add flavour ,improve digestion , avoid gastric problems and improve appetite.
Bay leaf can be used post eight months when you temper your gravies or variety rice. It is very strong in flavour ,hence prefer to use in moderation.
Basil can be used as salad dressings and garnishing from eight months. Basil is not easily available in all parts of India. Holy basil/tulsi is used as a medicine all over and it helps in curing ashtma,respiratory diseases and inhibits bacterial growth.
Fenugreek seeds also helps in digestion like other spices. Fenugreek powder can be added in a very small quantity in baby foods post eight months. It might sometimes make food bitter. Hence have a check on the quantity.
I prefer adding lemon zest or lemon juice to gravies and salads for a punch in taste. As it is citrus the general recommendation is above one year. However if family history of allergies doesn’t indicate a problem you can try including it from eight months.
Mustard Seeds can be added from eight months as a whole or you can add a pinch of mustard powder in other dishes.Mustard in excess might give a bitter taste.It mainly improves digestion and it might be seen as such in baby potty until baby chews the seeds.
24.Split Urad dhal
Split urad dhal is a component of tempering with our family. I began adding it in eighth month as I started using dhal/sambhar. Urad dhal is rich in calcium. You might find them in baby potty as such and it is absolutely normal
Curry leaves are extremely great for their iron content and they boost immunity and hair growth. Tempering every dish with curry leaves is a must in our families and I prefer making dried curry leaves powder / curry leaves chutney for idly/dosa / curry leaves thuvaiyal for rice because mostly curry leaves get into trash. When baby begins to chew try offering one small leaf(washed). Be cautious to avoid choking.You can add curry leaves post 8 months.
Points to note:
Please be slow in introducing spices and herbs.
Follow baby’s cues and add spices according to the tolerance level of the baby.There is no strict timeline to be followed in this regard.
Better to follow five day wait rule to know reactions.
Always have a word with your doctor on introducing any new herb or spice.
Avoid too much of hot spices till 1 year at the least
Anything in moderation is recommended.
Quantity of the spice depends on the type of the spice and age of the baby.
Do not force baby for any. Baby will naturally develop taste for everything.
In case of any allergies please stop and consult doctor asap.
Watch baby’s cues and trust motherly intuition than any other source of information.
Be careful while buying spices as they can be easily adulterated.
Do not store spices beyond one year.
Do not handle spices and herbs with wet spoons/hands.
Concentrate on helping baby to eat foods without any seasonings at first because baby should love any fruit or veggie as such than for the taste of the spice/herb/add-ons.
Avoid sugar,salt,honey,cows milk till one year in baby food in any form in any quantity.
Copyrights and Disclaimer:
Do not copy/reproduce any part of this article in any form.These are my suggestions based on what I have learnt,what I have experienced and what was advised to me by my doctors,elders,friends,kith and kin. Always seek medical assistance before implementing any to your baby. Please have a word with your doctor and decide on the recipe considering your baby’s health,age and family history of allergies.
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