Friday, May 31, 2013

Baby Food Fridays Series - Spices

            There is a new revolution of sorts occurring in the baby food world. Admittedly, when my husband first told me about reading that you could add spices to baby food I was skeptical. In fact, you’re probably thinking the same thing right now. “It’s safe to add spices to my child’s food? I’ve never read that in any books or online. Family, friends, and even doctors have never mentioned it being something that’s ok to do.” We add spices to OUR food on a daily basis, even if it’s just pepper, so why does it seem so crazy to pep up our babies’ food?
            For whatever reason, it has been ingrained into us that baby food should be as bland as possible. This is actually a phenomenon tied to the United States only. As it turns out, most other countries include spices regularly in their babies’ food without thinking twice about it. Curry, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, you name it! So, why don’t Americans spice their children’s food up the same way other countries do?
            It is coming forth as of recently (the past 3 years or so) that there is actually no scientific research to back up the “rule” that baby food should be plain and lacking spices. So, it’s not really a rule at all, but merely a guideline. Even the term “guideline” is pushing it a bit. If your family has a history of food allergies then yes, you should be very cautious when introducing new foods and spices to your child. However, it’s very unlikely and uncommon to have an allergy to spices. If food allergies aren’t a common problem in your family, there is absolutely no reason you can’t add a little spice to your child’s food.
            So, what kind of spices can you introduce in your baby’s food? Darn near anything that’s not terribly spicy (hot)! Here is a list of acceptable ones I found from a couple of my source pages below.

-alcohol-free vanilla
-garlic powder
-lemon zest
-orange zest
-curry (Be cautious with this one. Some babies are sensitive.)

            You’ll want to hold off on the hot kind of spicy stuff until your little one gets older. A few examples of what kind of spices you could add include mixing a bit of cinnamon in with sweet potatoes, adding some garlic powder to mashed potatoes, or some allspice mixed in with squash. Wholesomebabyfood has a great page on adding spices to your baby’s food, including more examples and ideas.
            When is it safe to start introducing spices to your baby’s diet? The general consensus is around 8 months of age, by which time most people have already been letting their little one try real food. Why does this matter? While I think spicing up your baby’s food is a great idea and makes sense, it is wise to still try out plain food with your child a few times to make sure they don’t have any reactions. Once you know for sure they have no allergies to a certain type of food, have at the spices! Plus his/her digestive system will be more developed by then so something that might have upset his tummy a couple months ago might not now. Make sense?
            Baby food and when to introduce it to children can be a touchy subject amongst parents. What are your thoughts or concerns on adding spices? Do you already do this in your household? I’d love to hear from you!

Visit these links below (my sources) for more information and interesting articles on adding spices to your child’s baby food.


  1. I've done mixed of cilantro, peas and chicken broth for purees. My 15 month old daughter loves cinnamon in her banana oatmeal too (tastes like banana bread!). I wasn't too worried about adding spices to her food.. Afterall, there are so many other cultures that don't "dumb down" food like North Americans do.

  2. *Thank you!* I remember feeling so strange giving my baby applesauce with cinnamon in it, or oatmeal with a little vanilla - and she'd snitch bites of our heavily peppered foods - but when I read that it was okay, it seemed like a "Duh." I mean, why *shouldn't* they have spices?? My SIL was a missionary to Mexico for years, and little kids eat spicy foods all the time - it's kind of a weird American thing we have!

  3. I spice food... Didn't know that I shouldn't or should for my baby. But when the ped. Said baby needs to gain more weight... Give him what ever I eat. I told him I spice everything. He said our was fine. Now little one eats everything... And I do mean everything!

  4. If you read a little bit about Ayurveda, they place a medicinal value on spices. It's a very interesting take on feeding one's self AND our kids.

    1. Sounds interesting. I will have to look into it!

  5. I like that you're giving light to this topic - I do think people are often afraid or don't think about the things they're giving their babies. We did a lot of Baby-Led Weaning, so when we give our babes things that are also on our plate, it comes with the spices as well! Interesting read :)

  6. It's great to see that so many people already do this! This is an idea we just came across recently and it had just never even crossed my mind! Like Jamie said, it seemed like a "duh" after the fact because it's beaten into most Americans' heads that baby food should be plain Jane.