It’s easy to get stuck into a pattern of giving your baby the same foods when you start weaning. You know they like avocado and don’t like broccoli so smashed avo and banana becomes a fool-proof meal that you don’t want to change. While this is fine at the beginning it’s important to introduce different flavours and textures into their diet from an early age. One way of doing this is using herbs and spices at mealtimes. The variation is amazing for their development and many also have health benefits. So why not add a pinch of any of the ingredients below into the next puree and watch their faces as they discover a new world of taste…
Basil is great to have in the kitchen as it’s amazing for soups and sauces and it has many healthy properties. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants that help fight disease, properties that are amazing for the development of your baby’s immune system. This versatile herb is also high in vitamins A, C, K, and E, so adding a few leaves into the next tomato puree will keep baby strong and healthy. You can also make a Caprese salad with beef tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil as a quick lunch that will keep the whole family happy and healthy.
Many parents swear by this spice as a staple of their weaning journey. The main compound in turmeric is curcumin and is thought to aid in the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s and certain heart conditions. It is also great for improving bloating and gas in babies and reducing indigestion as it helps to regulates blood flow and contains anti-inflammatory properties.. You can add a tsp of dried turmeric in a sweet potato and broccoli puree, or add into vegetable curry for a tasty mid-week tea.
The use of cinnamon for medicinal properties is thought to date back to the Ancient Egyptians as it is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are great for your baby’s digestive health. It is also thought to help lower blood sugar levels and help fight bacterial and fungal infections. For babies, you can add to banana to make a puree, and for the family you can sprinkle some on Weetabix with blueberries in the mornings or add to teas for a spiced treat.
This herb has many of the same benefits of the others in this list – antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties – but it has also been said to improve mood and memory. It is a cognitive stimulant and has been found to improve concentration levels in students, so introducing rosemary to your baby could be very beneficial. You can easily make rosemary infused oil and use it for cooking or as a muscle relaxer as even the smell has been found to be relaxing.
Mint is great for your baby’s digestive system, it helps relieve bloating and settle nausea. It also helps prevent the development of allergies and is good for oral health. The sweetness of the leaf means that it is an easy flavour to introduce early in their weaning journey – try adding mint to avocado for baby, or for lunch ideas add mint to cucumber and tomato salads for extra freshness.
Some people are unsure about whether to use garlic in weaning foods because of its strong flavour but it is packed full of vitamins and also naturally contains copper which helps baby absorb iron. Garlic is also great for digestive health and introducing it to your baby early is beneficial for you because you can use it in any cooking you do for yourself and the family. A great way to incorporate it into everyone’s diet is by blending mushrooms, garlic and milk as a puree, and using the garlic mushrooms to have on toast as a weekend brunch idea for the family.