Most baby food is very bland (though I must say, not NurturMe!). If you’re choosing to make your own baby food, or simply serve your baby a pureed version of whatever your family is having for dinner, go ahead and add some flavor. Odds are your baby will like it, and it will also help her get used to varied tastes and your cooking style.
Of course, jalapenos and black pepper may not be the best flavor options for baby. Here are some food additions that your little one will likely find both gentle and tasty. To start out, add small amounts of these herbs and spices to see how your baby reacts.
- Fresh herbs — like Italian (flat leaf) parsley, basil, arugula, and cilantro. These are great mixed into pureed vegetables, beans, mixed dishes (like veggie-meat-rice mixtures), and stews.
- Dried herbs — like thyme, oregano, rosemary, and sage. Also great in veggie, bean, and mixed dishes.
- Sweet spices — like cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, curry (the mild kind), and cumin. Try adding cinnamon and nutmeg to applesauce, squash, or pumpkin. Add curry, coriander, and cumin to beans, lentils, rice dishes, meat dishes, and soups.
Additives you’ll want to avoid:
- Salt. A little salt in a homemade dish is not a problem, but commercially prepared dishes have way too much sodium for baby, and may increase they’re preference for salty, processed foods. Since babies have been eating breastmilk/formula, which are not at all salty, they don’t need salt for flavor.
- Sugar. Added sugar is unnecessary and adds empty calories to a baby’s diet. Babies should be eating nutrient-packed foods any time they’re eating solids. Most of their nutrients are still coming from breastmilk/formula (from 6-12 months, about 75% of their diet should be breastmilk/formula. This goes down to 25-50% by 18 months), so the rest of their diet should be kind of like food “education” where they learn to appreciate different natural tastes.
- Spicy foods. Just like with adults, babies may experience unpleasant sensations on their tongues, plus indigestion or upset stomach with spicy foods. Better to avoid these, unless they’re part of your culture’s food and seem acceptable to your baby.
When it comes to making baby food, have fun! Mix foods, add flavor and a little spice to foods, and just see what your baby likes!