Why flavour is such an important element in making food tastier for babies

Guest blog post by Annabel Karmel 

Interestingly I was told that babies like bland food when I was writing my first book.

At the time I was running a big playgroup with lots of babies, so I tested a variety of bland foods against more tasty, flavourful foods and it was quite clear that the babies wanted more flavour.

I would have 20 babies at a time in my kitchen trying a range of foods that I had prepared.

As you can’t add salt to a baby’s food, adding spices or herbs adds taste and I found that even a 7-month-old baby liked a mild curry – I made a chicken curry with tomatoes, butternut squash and dried apricot and the babies loved it.

Between six and nine months, once first tastes have been accepted, you can start to increase the amount and variety of food you give your baby. They are now likely to be taking regular meals each day, but it is important to let them set the pace – every baby is different when it comes to how much they want to eat.

By nine months, it’s likely that your baby will be sitting unsupported and possibly have a few teeth. This means that during this phase they will develop rapidly when it comes to eating – providing the perfect opportunity to introduce new and exotic flavours.

How to introduce flavour to your baby’s diet

Little ones should be savouring tasty and varied meals packed with flavour, and the best way to get them experimenting is through introducing spices to, literally, spice up their meals.

When it comes to introducing solids, I always encourage families (spoon-fed or baby led) to trial and error with herbs and mild spices, however be sure to stay away from hot spices like cayenne pepper or chilli – they may upset little tums. Not only will it expand little palettes, but it will inspire adventurous eating and a lifelong passion for food.

I always encourage parents to start things slowly by beginning with aromatic spices such as mint, paprika, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom and cumin.

It’s best to introduce a small amount, like a pinch for example, before building up quantity as resilience grows. Often a little goes a long way, so by avoiding adding too much you’ll ensure that the flavour and aroma doesn’t overpower your little one’s meal. Also, it’s important to ensure that any whole spices used during cooking are removed before being served to baby.

Spices help the transition to family food

As spices allow babies to get used to a range of flavours at a time when they are open to experimenting with new tastes, it helps pave the way as toddlers transition into family food and begin their self-feeding journey. Plus, if they’ve been exposed to a variety of flavours from the start, they are more likely to accept more in the future! If you’re looking for a convenient option when starting baby’s self-feeding journey, my Little Tasters range has just been launched in Australia and includes some of my most popular meal recipes in delicious bite-size form, like Pumpkin and Carrot fingers and Macaroni, Cheese and Broccoli Balls.

As with most parts of the starting solids journey, it’s all about trial and error… and persistence! It often takes multiple attempts before baby accepts and even likes a new flavour, so don’t be deterred by them initially rejecting new tastes!

In addition to assisting in the transition to family food, adding spices and contrasting flavours is a wonderful way of encouraging little ones to eat new food combinations and sneak in extra nutrients. For example, with my famous Chicken and Apple balls, by adding grated apple to chicken thighs it helps little ones get used to eating meat by cutting through the taste with the hint of sweetness from the apple. If you don’t have time to make this recipe from scratch at home, my snap frozen Little Tasters Chicken and Apple Bites can be ready in 5 minutes and taste as good as homemade!

X click to search