Herbs + Spices for Baby
Whether you are making homemade baby food or offering safe baby-led strips, introducing herbs and spices is an important way to challenge your baby's taste buds. Since we avoid adding salt to a baby’s food (until their first birthday), herbs and spices are a great way to build their flavor preferences. Here are six sensory profiles that can spice up your baby's mealtime!
Rosemary: This herb can be a hit for baby-led weaning since it has a fresh scent that entices babies to try it. For safety, be sure to finely chop or grind it when adding it to your baby's recipes. Try using it for finger foods such as homemade sweet potato sticks. Or, add it to mashed potatoes and have baby practice their baby-led spoon feeding skills!
- Sensory Quality for Baby: Pine scent
- Foods: Dips, dressings, potato recipes and meat dishes
- Storage: Leaves can be kept in an airtight container for up to 12 months
Sage: Sage is an herb that is commonly used during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you can use it throughout the year! Sage has a smoky flavor that adds complexity to the foods you are offering to your baby, such as meats and breads. It’s a favorite for baby-led turkey meatballs and meat based purees.
- Sensory Quality for Baby: Smoky flavor
- Foods: Meatballs, turkey and breads
- Storage: Dry sage can be kept in an airtight container for up to 6 months
Pepper: Dried, ground black pepper is a common condiment for most families, which is why it's important to offer a tiny sprinkle of pepper in your baby's meals. This will help baby learn to enjoy the flavor profiles of the foods you frequently make at home. It’s also a staple ingredient in the dips I make for babies and toddlers.
- Sensory Quality for Baby: Spicy flavor
- Foods: Soups, vegetables, dips and pasta
- Storage: Pepper or whole peppercorns can be kept in an airtight container for up to 12 months.
Cinnamon: This spice is commonly associated with breakfast foods and sweet treats. But it is also a yummy spice for baked or poached fruits such as apples and pears, as well as curried vegetables. Just be sure to add it to moist food (such as oatmeal) so that it is easily absorbed. We don’t want baby to accidentally inhale cinnamon, which can trigger sneezing, coughing and opening of the baby's airway.
- Sensory Quality for Baby: Sweet flavor with a woody smell
- Foods: French toast, pancakes, warm cereals, fruits, curried vegetables and baked goods
- Storage: Unopened cinnamon sticks can be kept for up to 4 years. Ground cinnamon in an airtight container can be kept for up to 12 months.
Oregano: This herb is popular for baby-led weaning pasta recipes, and it can be sprinkled over a variety of cheeses. I often use dried oregano in my recipes, as it’s an herb that doesn’t lose its flavor when dried. A lot of dads who pride themselves on making meat moist and safe for their baby use oregano in marinades.
- Sensory Quality for Baby: Bitter, earthy taste and smell
- Foods: Pasta sauce, egg dishes, chicken, cheese and marinades
- Storage: Dry oregano can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 years
Thyme: Fresh thyme will offer your baby a stronger flavor, while dried thyme offers a delicate taste profile. Be sure to add this spice at the end of a recipe, as heating it can dampen its flavor. Thyme is often used with lemon juice to season sardines and help offer fish, a potential food allergen, to baby.
- Sensory Quality for Baby: Lemony taste
- Foods: Root vegetables, fish, stews and meats
- Storage: Dry thyme can be kept in an airtight container for up to 6 months
I hope that this information helps you to add herbs and spices to your family’s recipes. Have you incorporated any herbs and spices in your baby’s first bites? Let us know which ones and tag us in your baby food pics too! #ezpzfun
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.