I have a super-unscientific theory: Picky eaters are made, not born. Well, to some extent anyways. I'm sure genetics play some role in what a person does and doesn't like, but I think their parents play an even bigger role.
I was a very picky eater growing up, partially because I wasn't given a large variety of foods when I was really young (my family lived outside the US until I was four, so that probably made it more difficult for my parents to find appropriate foods for me). I'm still not the most adventurous eater, but in the last few years I've tried things I never would have even in college (pine nuts, lobster, duck and hummus just to name a few). I also used to only like bland food. Garlic was the only flavor I'd eat. I still love garlic, but I've been experimenting with different herbs and spices in the kitchen, and I love it!
So my point is, start early with giving your babies flavor. Regardless of if you start with purees or finger foods (also called baby lead weaning), it's really easy to entice baby's taste buds with herbs and spices. I started adding spices to Harry's purees right when he turned seven months old. We haven't been doing it long, but so far so good! He has really enjoyed all the different flavors we've introduced, and hopefully I'm setting him up for a bland food-free life.
So far Harry's tried cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, garlic and thyme. I'm not sure what he's enjoyed most, but he hasn't reacted unfavorably to any of them.
Here are some things to keep in mind when introducing herbs and spices in to your baby's diet.
- Wait to introduce herbs and spices until your baby is more comfortable eating. Wholesome Baby Food recommends waiting until eight months for herbs and spices. We started at seven months and have no problems.
- Introduce one herb or spice at a time. Wait the typical three to four days in between new flavors to easily pinpoint any adverse reactions.
- Start small. Just a pinch per ounce will dramatically change the flavor of the puree (or finger food) for your baby. As baby warms up to the flavor you can add more.
- Stay away from added sugar or salt, both can be bad for baby. Be mindful of some spice mixes that might include either sugar or salt.
- Herbs and spices can be added to both store bought and homemade purees (and some finger foods). If you make your purees store them without adding the herbs and spices so you can customize the flavor with different flavors.
- Introduce and encourage your baby to love the herbs and spices you love. That might sound a little selfish, but if you don't like curry I don't really see the point in introducing it unless you're fine with making separate dishes with curry in it for the next 18 years.
One last thing, keep it fun! If your baby doesn't like something, don't push it. Doing so can create a negative association with food for baby. Try the herb or spice again in a few days, baby might like it the second time around.
This week I'm taking part in the 3rd annual Comment Challenge hosted by Jenna's Journey. Check out her blog and link up! You're supposed to do a post every day this week and then comment on other bloggers who also linked up. Kind of a fun way to discover new bloggers, right?
Question of the day:
What's your favorite herb or spice?
As I said above, mine is garlic, I add it to just about everything I cook. Last summer I discovered Lighthouse Freeze Dried Garlic, it's the best! I crush it up into a fine powder and add it to Harry's purees.