Whether you are making homemade baby food or offering safe baby-led strips, introducing herbs, spices, and minced veggies is an important way to challenge your baby’s taste buds. Since we want to avoid adding salt to a baby’s food (until their first birthday), adding these extra flavors is a great way to build their flavor preferences. Here are seven sensory profiles that can spice up your baby’s mealtime!
This herb can be a hit for baby-led weaning (BLW) since it has a fresh scent that entices babies to try it. For safety, finely chop or grind the herb 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 is an herb commonly used during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you can use it throughout the year! It has a smoky flavor that adds complexity to the foods you are offering, such as meats and breads. For example, 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
Dried ground black pepper is a common condiment for most families, so offering a tiny sprinkle of pepper in your baby’s meals is important. 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.
This spice is commonly associated with breakfast foods and sweet treats. However, it is also a yummy spice for baked or poached fruits such as apples & pears and curried vegetables. Just be sure to add it to moist food (such as oatmeal) so that it is easily absorbed. We don’t want babies to inhale cinnamon, which can trigger sneezing, coughing, and opening their airways.
- 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.
This herb is popular for baby-led weaning pasta recipes and can be sprinkled over various 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 & 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
Fresh thyme will offer a more robust flavor, while dried thyme offers a delicate taste profile. Be sure to add this spice at the end of a recipe because heating it can dampen its flavor. Thyme is often used with lemon juice to season sardines and to 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
This vegetable is excellent for adding a pop of flavor to bland-tasting foods. However, for safety, make sure garlic is fresh and stored properly to decrease the risk of botulism. When I purchase garlic, I like to prepare and freeze it immediately. I prepare the garlic by mincing finely, placing it in a covered ice cube tray, and adding a little olive oil. This mixture should last for sixty days, and it can be easily reused by popping out an ice cube section and adding it to your BLW recipes.
- Sensory Quality for Baby: Bitter and sharp taste
- Foods: Meats, fish, vegetables, dips, and potato recipes
- Storage: Intact bulb can be stored in a cool, dark, dry pantry for one month
I hope this information helps you add herbs, spices, and minced veggies to your family’s recipes. For more feeding tips and products, check out my BLW + Starting Solids Amazon Store! #MsDawnSLP