FQ Expert

Weaning Baby – The Spicy Way

[Image - Todd Quackenbush]
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Introducing baby to solid food is an exciting time for both parents, but what if your favourite meal is a curry? Well guess what – that’s ok!

Weaning with aromatic spices is a perfectly safe and great idea. Combine aromatic spices with traditional spoon-feeding and baby-led weaning techniques and you’re onto a winner!

Aromatic spices are an excellent substitute to adding salt and sugar to provide much-needed flavour in baby meals. The mouth-watering aroma spices release when cooked makes food tastier when eaten and the range of spice flavours available allows parents to offer a wider variety of meals in a baby’s diet – helping to broaden palates and reduce fussy-eating behaviours.

If you’re considering weaning with spices but don’t know where to start, Zainab Jagot Ahmed – author of “Easy Indian SuperMeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family” – has shared her top tips for weaning with aromatic spices.

The perfect age

7 months is the perfect age to introduce aromatic spices into a baby’s diet. Baby’s palate will be accustomed to basic tastes such as fruit and vegetables and his/ her digestive system will be further developed.

Safety is key

Follow the ‘four-day-rule’ to ensure your little one is not allergic to spices. So introduce a lightly cooked spice to mashed or pureed food, then wait four days before introducing another.

Keep them fresh

Once the spice packet is opened, store in a clean, dry, air-tight container away from sunlight to ensure spices remain fresh for baby. Spices used must be produced by reputable spice brands sealed with a clear expiry date on the packet. If you’re unsure – head to your local supermarket.

A tiny pinch

It’s not uncommon to forget everything is new to baby. New world, new tastes and textures, so a tiny pinch of aromatic spice will be enough. It’s amazing what new taste buds can detect.

Allergic reactions

Whilst allergic reactions to spices are uncommon, they can occur. So keep an eye out for tummy upsets, skin rashes, swelling of the lips and face, runny and blocked noses, sneezing, itchy watery eyes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Sweet spices

Babies have a sweet tooth – mother’s milk is naturally sweet! So encourage new aromatic tastes with sweet spices. Try sweet potato sticks with cinnamon and nutmeg baked in the oven for a delicious finger food. Then move onto savoury spices like cumin, turmeric and coriander to continue offering new tastes and flavours.

Use spices to offer variety in meals

Weaning is all about introducing baby to as many different foods, tastes and flavours as possible and cooking with spices makes this possible. Frequently offer a broad variety of meals so baby doesn’t get accustomed to one type of food.

No heat (or sugar and salt)

Most spices are aromatic so are safe to introduce into a baby’s diet in fresh, dried or ground varieties. Examples include cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cloves, cumin and coriander. Spices with ‘heat’ (chillies, cayenne pepper etc.) should be avoided along with salt and sugar.

Spices for ailments

Teething is uncomfortable for baby and even more painful for parents! If you’ve tried everything – teething granules, gels and toys – try adding some nutmeg to meals for its analgesic properties. Equally, if baby has cold or flu and the doctor can’t prescribe anything, add some cumin, turmeric, cardamom or garlic to meals for their immune-boosting and anti-viral properties.

You don’t have to cook curries

Cooking with spices doesn’t mean you have to cook curries. Add spices to everyday meals – stews, hotpots and pasta sauce for extra flavour.

Zainab is an expert speaker at The Baby Show – taking place from the 15th-17th May at the NEC in Birmingham.