Most parents are very cautious about adding spices to baby food. This is mostly due to the misconception that spicy food can cause stomach pains, burns and diarrhea.
However, this does not mean that a baby’s food should be tasteless and devoid of flavor. Therefore, it is useful to know more about adding spices to baby food.It is a well-known fact that sugar is a definite “no” for babies, while salt should be used in a limited quantity (no more than 1 gram per day) until babies reach the age of one.
The Right Time for Adding Spices to Baby Food
The process of adding spices to baby food should be done by taking into consideration three main factors:
- The Baby’s Age
- The Type of Spice
- Spice Quantity
There are still lots of heated debates on the topic of the food items and spices that should be introduced into the diet of a baby. However, most specialists agree that babies’ food should be tasty and delicious. It should be something that even an adult would gladly eat.
Vandana Sheth, a reputed nutritionist and the spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, advises parents to use herbs in order to make the babies’ food tastier. She claims that herbs and spices should be introduced into a baby’s diet not only for their taste but also for their rich antioxidants content. Beware, this doesn’t include hot spices. The slightly aromatic herbs can be introduced into a baby’s diet after the little one has passed the age of 6 months, but some nutritionists and pediatricians recommend the introduction of spices after the baby has reached 8 months, in order to avoid the irritation of the gastric mucosa and to prevent various allergic reactions.
Benefits of Adding Spices to Baby Food
Spices not only make food tastier and more appealing to the little one, they have got various properties which enhance our health. Spices are rich in antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and detoxifying properties.
Here is a list of spices and of their benefits for the baby’s health:
- Cinnamon is a spice reputed for its therapeutic properties. It is an important source of iron, manganese, calcium and fibers. It stimulates the digestive system and destroys dangerous bacteria such as the E coli. However, cinnamon can trigger allergic reactions and for this reason it should be introduced into the baby’s diet only after receiving the pediatrician’s consent.
- Cumin stimulates the correct functioning of the digestive system.
- Garlic is a very powerful antioxidant
- Turmeric, which can be found in the mustard seeds, also has important antioxidant properties.
- Coriander represents an important source of iron, manganese, magnesium and fibers.
- Dill has in its composition important nutrients which can fight against cancer and various heart diseases.
- Nutmeg has a powerful calming effect upon stomach cramps
- Ginger can also be successfully used to help stomach aches and nausea.
Adding the Right Spices to Baby Food
Even if the pediatrician says it is alright to add spices to your baby’s food, it is advisable to avoid hot spices which can cause various digestion problems. Parents should avoid spices obtained from hot pepper like chili powder, cayenne pepper or paprika and the first spices to be introduced need to have a texture which is not harmful for the baby’s digestive system.
Gastroenterologists say that babies older than six months can have their dishes enriched in flavor with the help of spices such as:
There are also some other spices that can be used more cautiously in the diet of children less than one year. Parents should pay utmost attention and watch for possible reactions if they decide to add the following spices to baby food:
Tips for Adding Spices to Baby Food
In order to avoid various digestion problems it is best to learn how to associate spices and different types of vegetables, fruit and meat.
- Nutmeg can be added to vegetable purees because it enriches its taste
- Nutmeg and cinnamon can also be used in combination with apple puree
- Ginger is excellent with baked carrot and banana puree
- Chives is delicious in combination with baked potato and cheese
- Oregano, basil and garlic can be used to turn a pasta dish into a feast of senses
- Chives, coriander, saffron, anise and tarragon give flavor to fish dishes
- Cinnamon, coriander, basil, garlic, oregano, rosemary and thyme can be used to make chicken and turkey meat more attractive for the baby.
The combinations are endless and therefore, it is advisable for parents to experiment and identify the savors that the child enjoys the most. By adding spices to baby food parents can also reduce the chances of having a fussy toddler and promote the importance of enjoying trying new foods and tastes.