If you love exotic flavours and regularly indulge in spices from around the world, you may wonder when your baby can start enjoying these foods too.
Trying different tastes and textures can be an enriching part of our lives, so it’s natural that you want your child to have that experience. But what’s the best approach? And when is the right time to start?
Exotic Flavours for Babies
If you’ve eaten adventurously throughout your pregnancy and while breastfeeding, your baby has already been happily experiencing these flavours too. Studies show that babies are actually tasting the foods their mothers are consuming, through amniotic fluid and breast milk. Why stop when your baby is born?
Many of us cut out spices when we breastfeed and when we start weaning our babies. Suddenly the kitchen cupboard is full of baby rice, baby rice, sweet potatoes and more baby rice! The hot, fragrant curries you used to love to cook have been abandoned, and bland pasta is now dish of the day.
Take comfort in the fact that your baby has already tasted the same bitter, spicy or exotic flavours that you have. You should continue enjoying them and allow your developing baby to do the same – right from the start.
While you indulge in the varying tastes on offer from around the world, sharing them with your baby will encourage them to try new things in the future. If meals taste differently from one day to the next, your child will grow up seeing this as totally normal.
Over time they’ll become much more relaxed when faced with a strong taste or unfamiliar flavour.
Watch out for Allergens
It’s essential you ensure your baby is ready though. The NHS website has plenty of advice on how to recognise the signs that your baby is ready to start weaning.
There are a few foods that are known as allergen risks. These include cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, gluten, nuts, fish and seeds. These should be introduced one at time, to help identify any allergies, but there’s no reason to avoid spicy and exotic foods from when you start weaning, or when breastfeeding.
The NHS also has a great list of foods to choose from to get you started with weaning. Try shaking things up a little with warming spices like cumin, cinnamon and even mild chilli!
Exotic Flavours for Growing Infants
Baby-led weaning encourages young infants to try finger foods and solids. Introducing foods that resemble your own meals has become a popular method, and it can help establish a healthy attitude towards food.
Many parents report that their children go through a ‘beige’ phase, only eating a tiny selection of food, like crisps, chips or fish fingers. Being relaxed about the meals you’re creating is a good way to combat picky habits.
If kids get to eat what you eat, you’re less likely to end up with designated ‘kids’ foods’, like the ones just mentioned.
This same attitude can be applied to kids’ drinks. Exotic flavours can be introduced as infusions in water – try steeping different herbs, fruits and spices in plain water. It’s a great way to encourage a child to develop tastes that are less sweet. It also helps stay away from bottled squash and fizzy drinks, which will benefit everyone.
Adding herbs and spices can also be a great tactic to encourage little ones to eat those dreaded vegetables!
Let’s Get Started
Everyone wants their kids to be healthy, positive and have an open mind towards food. The best approach is not to limit them or make a fuss. It’s also about setting a good example.
Try cooking meals with many different flavours. Sit down at the table as a family and make mealtimes a positive experience. This will all help ensure that the exotic flavours you enjoy will be enjoyed by everyone else too.
There really is no ‘right’ time to introduce exotic flavours to your baby or infant. Use these ideas to guide you, and have some fun in the kitchen!
- There are no rules to introducing spices or any cuisines you enjoy.
- Be careful to introduce potential allergens one at a time to spot any adverse reactions.
- Exotic flavours can replace processed sweet and fatty flavours, encouraging everyone to become healthier in their choices.
- Remember, exotic flavours can be introduced in your child’s drinks too.
- Relax and don’t make a fuss about new flavours – make bold statements but deliver them quietly.