I LOVE experimenting with foods to create delicious new meals. My passion for flavours and tastes meant that when I was weaning my daughter – Aaliyah, I wanted her to experience the same. I wanted to introduce lots of different tastes, flavours and textures to encourage her to love food as much as I do! I was also keen to keep her palate broad as possible.

Sadly, my excitement to begin Aaliyah’s weaning journey slowly diminished when I saw the recipes that went along with weaning. Bland and boring! They did not reflect the type of weaning journey I was so passionately looking forward to.  With lots of research – baby nutrition, aromatic spices, UK Department of Health guidelines and recipe development, I created my own baby-friendly aromatic recipes my little one simply adored, and I was pleased with too. They ticked all my boxes – tasty, creative, and nutritionally balanced to give my little one the best start in life.

So here are my top tips for introducing flavour safely into your little one’s diet.

  1. From 6 months (after first tastes have been accepted), introduce single herb or spice additions into your baby’s purées. These could be sweet flavours – cinnamon, basil or vanilla, or savoury – cumin, coriander, mint, turmeric or oregano. Why? Well, they enhance the taste of food, and make excellent substitutes to adding salt and sugar in baby food.
  2. Stick with one flavour a day to avoid overwhelming tiny taste buds – you can find a one week meal plan to follow in my Easy Indian Super Meals cookbook.
  3. Offer new tastes to your little one around lunchtime (when baby isn’t ravenous but equally isn’t sleepy and due a nap).
  4. Be prepared for the first taste face! A combination of ‘hmmm…. Interesting’ and ‘I’m going to vomit!!’ My little one managed to pull both faces at the same time! Don’t ask me how! But after she was over the initial surprise of the new taste, her solids went down a treat!
  5. Be cautious if you have a known family history of allergies to specific herbs or spices. If so, I would recommend waiting 2-3 years before introducing a new herb or spice into your little one’s diet.
  6. From 7 months, you can build on the flavours you’ve offered by beginning to combine flavours (herbs and spices), to create exciting and delicious meals for your little one.
  7. Fresh, ground or dried varieties of herbs and spices are all fine to use.
  8. Keep spices and dried herbs fresh for your baby by storing them in a clean, dry, airtight container away from sunlight
  9. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new and interesting flavours – flavours close to your home cooking. This will make the transition from weaning meals to family meals much easier.

Article by Zainab Jagot Ahmed, author of award-winning weaning and family cookbook – Easy Indian Super Meals (Ebury Press) £14.99. Available from Amazon