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Our Favourite Ways to Introduce your Baby to Aromatic Spices

Cooking for small children can feel repetitive, but with a dash of this and a pinch of that, you'll be opening up their palate to a whole new world of tastes


Not many parents realise just how beneficial weaning with aromatic spices can be for your baby's palate, but there are so many advantages to consider!

Zainab Jagot Ahmed says aromatic spices are an excellent substitute to adding salt and sugar to provide much-needed flavour in baby meals; the delectable 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.

Zainab's top 10 tips on weaning with aromatic spices

Begin with 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 - cumin, turmeric, coriander and so on, to continue offering new tastes and flavours.

Sugar and spice aren't always nice!

Avoid chillies, 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, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, cloves, cumin and coriander. Spices with 'heat' (chillies, cayenne pepper etc.) should be avoided along with salt and sugar.

Just a pinch

It's not uncommon for parents to forget that everything is new to a baby: new world, new tastes and textures. So, just a tiny pinch of aromatic spice will be enough for your baby. It's amazing what new taste buds can detect.

7 months

7 months is the perfect age to introduce aromatic spices into a baby's diet. Your baby's palate will be accustomed to basic tastes - fruit and vegetables and their digestive system will be further developed.

Safety first

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.

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.

Spices create variety

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

Everyday meals

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

Spices for ailments

Teething is uncomfortable for your 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 your baby has a cold or flu and the doctor can't prescribe anything, try adding some cumin, turmeric, cardamom, or garlic to meals for their immune-boosting and anti-viral properties.

Fresh is best

Once the spice packet is opened, store in a clean, dry, air tight container away from sunlight to ensure spices remain fresh for your 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.

One of Zainab's favourite recipes to try with kids

Coconut Chicken Curry - Stage 3 (10 months plus)

This SuperMeal is bursting with immune strengthening ingredients. Fresh lemon and broccoli provide vitamin C, and the coconut provides a source of anti-viral fats to keep cold and flu viruses at bay. In addition the chicken is anti-cancerous and is an excellent source of 'essential' amino acids (protein), required for healthy growth and development.

  • Total preparation and cooking time: 25 mins
  • Makes: 8 servings
  • Suitable for freezing


  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion - peeled, chopped
  • 1 chicken breast fillet (skinless) - cut into 1cm cubes
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tomato - washed, grated
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 150ml (5fl oz) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • Squeeze of ½ a lemon - ensuring no pips fall in
  • ¼ tsp ground garam masala
  • 60g (2½ oz) broccoli florets - washed, chopped (no stems)

Instructions: Heat the oil in a pot, add the onion and stir-fry on medium-low heat for 3-4mins until soft and golden. Add the chicken, turmeric and stir-fry until the chicken is sealed (opaque). Add the tomato, garlic, cumin and continue to stir-fry for a further 2-3mins.

Add the coconut milk, desiccated coconut, lemon juice, garam masala and simmer on low heat for a further 10mins, stirring occasionally until the chicken is tender. If at any point the curry looks dry, add a little extra water and continue to simmer.

Whilst the chicken is simmering, steam the broccoli in a steamer or in the microwave by placing it in a microwavable dish and adding 2 tablespoons of water. Cover the dish with either a lid (leaving a small vent) or cling film (piercing a few holes), and steam on high for 1½-2mins until tender. Once cooked, drain the excess water and add to the curry at the end.

Combine well and serve to your baby warm with roti or overcooked rice.

Zainab Jagot Ahmed, Author

More information on using spices with kids

Zainab is the author of "Easy Indian SuperMeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family" and expert speaker at The Baby Show taking place from the 15th-17th May at the NEC in Birmingham.

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