The Spice Guide: How to Introduce Flavors & Spices Day 2: Introducing spices to your baby

The Spice Guide: How to Introduce Flavors & Spices

Contrary to popular belief, babies can handle flavorful or gently spiced foods from 6 months of age. By ensuring a variety in taste, flavor, smells, and textures, your baby can develop a positive and healthy relationship with all kinds of food.

Indian foods are traditionally enhanced by a large variety of spices and condiments that also have health benefits. For example, asafetida (hing), turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, mustard, and fennel.

Why Introduce Spices to Your Baby?

  1. Apart from the delicious flavors they impart, Indian spices also have many health benefits. Some have anti-inflammatory or anti-oxidant properties while others help with digestion and absorption. Your baby should reap these health benefits just like you do.
  2. Adding spices to your baby’s food also trains their palate to appreciate a variety of flavors and tastes. This makes mealtime more interesting and enjoyable for your baby.
  3. Moreover, introducing your baby to spices at this stage of weaning helps prevent them from becoming picky eaters later. It exposes them to a diverse world of tastes, fragrances, and flavors, making them more open to trying new foods as they grow up.

What to Avoid

While spices can be beneficial for your baby’s health and taste development, there are a few things you should avoid.

1. Chilli:

Avoid adding any form of chilli (green or red) in the first few months of your baby’s solid food journey. After 10 months, you can start adding it pinch by pinch and gradually getting your little one accustomed to heat or spice. Avoid feeding your baby medium or highly spicy foods even if they show signs of tolerance, as it is not good for their little digestive systems.

2. Salt:

Avoid adding salt additionally, which is generally present in ready-made masalas and sauces. Use a little salt, but avoid excessive sodium as it can be harmful to your baby’s health.

5 Easy Tips for Introducing Spices to Your Baby’s Meals

  1. Grate a small piece of ginger or half a garlic clove and add to foods like dals or soups or shredded tender chicken while cooking.
  2. Add a pinch of powdered spices like turmeric, jeera, or coriander one at a time to sambhar, dal, rajma, chole, or chicken gravy during cooking.
  3. Add a few whole seeds like mustard, jeera, and fennel to season vegetable curries or use as tempering for dals, sambhar, rasam, kadhi, and egg/chicken/fish curry.
  4. Add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom powder to rice puddings like payasam, kheer, or pancakes.
  5. Use fresh herbs like mint, coriander, or methi as a garnish in curries, rice dishes, poha, cooked vegetable sabjis, stuffed roti, chapatis, or pooris.

The Spice Table

Learn which spice is beneficial, how much quantity to add, and when to start introducing it in your baby’s solid food journey!

Name of spice/ingredient

When to start introducing

How much to add in baby’s solid foods

Health benefits

Asafetida

After 6 months

A pinch - in khichdi/ rasam/curd/gravies

Reduces gassiness/bloating

Turmeric Powder

After 6 months

A pinch or ¼ tsp - in khichdi/soup/ rasam/kadhi/chicken curry or gravies

Natural antiseptic, relieves cold and cough, anti-inflammatory

Jeera Powder

After 6 months

¼ tsp - in khichdi/sambhar/gravies/rice

Anti-fungal, anti-microbial, effective against diarrhea and gas in babies and toddlers

Garlic, Onion, Shallots, Tamarind

At 6 months

1 pod, crushed - and added in first foods

Fights off microbes, rich in Vitamin C, anti-inflammatory agent

Coconut (fresh or dry)

At 6 months

1 or 2 tbsp - in curries or gravies

Adds more fat to solid foods

Cardamom Powder

After 6 months

¼ to ½ tsp - in porridges/pancakes/sheera/kheer

Helps in digestion, prevents respiratory problems, rich in copper, iron, Vitamins B2 and C, which prevents anemia

Ginger, Galangal, Licorice, Lime/Lemon juice, Amla, Haritaki

From 7 months

½ inch, finely grated - added in porridges/masala khichdi/rasam/rice

Effective home remedy against cold, cough, and respiratory disorders

Fennel Seeds or Caraway Seeds

From 7 months

Couple of fennel seeds - advisable to remove the seeds before feeding the baby. Add in tadka/curries/gravies. Mother can drink fennel water or fennel tea to relieve baby of the colic

Relieves baby of colic if mother has fennel water or fennel tea

Cinnamon Powder

From 7 months

A pinch - in porridges/fruits like apple or pear dishes/masala khichdi/ pancakes/jams

Helps in digestion, good antioxidant

(Tiny pinch of) Biryani Masala Powder, Sabji Masala Powder, Tikka Masala Powder, Sumac, Star Anise, Vinegar

From 7 months

A tiny pinch - in biryani, sabjis, pulaos

Helps in digestion, good antioxidant

Leaves: Coriander, Mint, Dill, Bay, Marjoram, Kefir Lime, Lavender, Tarragon, Wasabi

After 7 months

Few leaves/ 1 sprig - chopped, ground, or mashed leaves well or they will just pass whole in baby’s stool - in sambhar, rasam, gravies

Antioxidant, antiseptic, treats diarrhea, and helps prevent respiratory disorders

Fenugreek Seed Powder

After 7 months

¼ tsp - in dals/curries. Chopped and mashed methi leaves can be added to roti/chapatis/parathas

Curry Leaves, Pandan Leaves, Sage

After 7 months

1 sprig - Around 2-3 leaves can be added. Remove them while feeding the baby

Anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, is an effective anti-diarrheal agent

Ajwain

After 7 months

¼ or ½ tsp - in porridges/roti/chapati/parathas/snacks

Effective home remedy against diarrhea, cold and cough, aids in digestion, prevents intestinal worms in children

Laung/ Grambu

After 8 months

1 or 2 pcs added - in khichdi/apple dishes/pancakes - remove before feeding the baby

Mustard Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Nigella Seeds

After 8 months

Less than ¼ tsp - in tadka/ dals/ gravies - but till the baby is able to chew the mustard seeds, it will be excreted as whole in the baby’s stools (You can also cook food using these seeds and remove them before feeding your baby)

Relieves chest congestion, improves immunity, and treats constipation

Saffron, Peppermint

After 8 months

1 or 2 strands - in dry fruit porridges/sheera. Garnish while cooking, then remove before feeding the baby

Helps in digestion

Nutmeg, Mace, Kokum Powder, All Spice

After 8 months

A pinch - in porridges/kheer/sheera

Helps baby to sleep better and aids in digestion

Pepper Powder, Peppercorns, Chilli Powder, Chaat Masala Powder, Garam Masala Powder, Pav Bhaji Masala, Amchoor Powder, Chole Masala, Khus Khus

After 18 months

A pinch or ¼ or ½ tsp - in boiled eggs/khichdi/in tadka for various curries/gravies

May help relieve cold and cough and aids in digestion due to peppercorn and cumin content in powders.

Chillies, Paprika

After 18 months

Grind into paste and add to toddler food.

 

Introducing spices to your baby is a great way to make mealtime more enjoyable and healthy for them. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices and flavor combinations in moderation. Your baby will thank you for these delicious new experiences!

 

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