10 Baby-Friendly Herbs and Spices (Plus, a Few Things to Avoid)


So, you’re going to start introducing your baby to solid foods—great idea! Whether you’re planning to take the homemade or store-bought baby food route (or a combination), don’t forget to spice things up!

Registered Dietitian Nicole Lattanzio (@infant.nutritionist) agrees. “Herbs and spices are great options for babies in helping to develop their palates as well as provide a range of antioxidants.” In terms of when, she says, “In general, herbs and spices can be introduced once baby is tolerating a handful of foods.” To gauge their interest, and monitor for any adverse reactions, start by adding one herb or spice at a time to enhance the flavor of foods.

Herbs and Spices for Babies and Toddlers

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a sweet, warm spice—a simple way to liven up your baby’s meal. Try a small pinch in a sweet potato mash, or a light sprinkle into yogurt.

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Veggie Blend – Butternut Squash with Cinnamon

2. Ginger

Ginger is a warm spice that’s also highly nutritious. It’s a flavorful addition to your baby’s fruit or veggie purées.

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Fruit & Veggie Blend – Apple, Carrot, Beet & Ginger

3. Turmeric

A relative of ginger, turmeric is a warm spice that can be used to flavor many foods both sweet and savory.

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Fruit & Veggie Blend – Mango, Coconut & Carrot

4. Nutmeg

Nutmeg has a warm, nutty flavor. Like similar spices, it can be used to enhance a variety of food flavors. A little goes a long way, so keep it to a small pinch!

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Plant-Rich Meal – Butternut Squash, Strawberry & Coconut Butter

5. Cardamom

Also in the ginger family, cardamon can enhance the flavor of both sweet and savory baby foods—add a pinch to smashed peas or in their oatmeal.

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Plant-Rich Meal – Sweet Potato, Raspberry & Coconut Butter

6. Cumin

Cumin is a warm and earthy spice, with a hint of citrus. A sprinkle of cumin makes a great addition to many savory baby foods.

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Plant-Rich Meal – Black Bean, Red Peppers, Sweet Potato & Cilantro

7. Mint

Mint is a subtly sweet herb that pairs very well with many fruits (e.g., watermelon, pineapple).

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Fruit & Veggie Blend - Pineapple, Banana, Avocado & Mint

8. Basil

Basil is a nutritious herb with a sweet flavor that complements both sweet and savory foods.

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Plant-Rich Meal – Pea, Zucchini & Basil

9. Rosemary

Rosemary is a herb with a savory, woodsy flavor. For babies, the leaves can be added to a meat or veggie dish, or the full sprig can be added to a soup or broth.

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Plant-Rich Meal – Butternut Squash, Kale & Quinoa

10. Cilantro

Cilantro is a strong (and divisive) herb—those who love it say it’s citrusy and can add depth of flavor to many foods. For babies, try adding some to a rice or meat dish.

Taste it in: Once Upon a Farm Plant-Rich Meal – Black Bean, Red Peppers, Sweet Potato & Cilantro

Herbs & Spices to Avoid 

In terms of which herbs and spices to avoid, and general best practices when it comes to these flavorful additions, Lattanzio has a few rules she shares with her clients:

  • “First, purchase herbs and spices from trusted places.”
  • “Second, limit seasoning blends that are salt-based (e.g., garlic salt, onion salt, etc.), as frequent use may create a preference for salty foods. Instead, offer options such fresh or dried herbs and spices including powders (e.g., garlic powder).”
  • “Third, use caution with spicy (hot) options. Start off with just a touch of spice and increase as you feel is appropriate. There are babies who love spice, in which case go for it!”

As they say, variety is the spice of life. To get started, follow Lattanzio’s suggestion and “utilize herbs and spices that your family enjoys cooking with.” This is a great way to get your child comfortable eating family foods and cultural cuisine. And for an even easier approach to introducing herbs and spices, check out our Plant-Rich Meals: ready-to-cook organic frozen meals, each flavored with baby-friendly herbs and spices.

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