Doctors recommend introducing spices to your baby’s diet by the end of 8 months. Don’t be surprised if the elderly in your house tell you to feed the baby spiced food as early as 6 months. Although, there’s no hurry in adding spices to your baby’s food. The idea behind it is that the sooner the baby develops a taste for the spices, the sooner you can introduce your child to the normal family diet.

Most Indian households introduce their babies to spices at the ceremony of annaprashana, which symbolises the beginning of weaning. However, as mentioned earlier, there’s no rush to introduce spice to the baby.

While introducing the spices to a baby, one should always do so one at a time. Introducing them all at once might result in allergic reactions. Start with one spice and wait for four to six days to introduce the next spice. It doesn’t always have to be chilli or pepper. It can also be garlic (lehsun), ginger (adrak), asafoetida (hing), cumin (jeera), fennel (saunf), coriander (dhania), mustard (sarson), fenugreek (methi), turmeric (haldi) and so on. Indian spices are known to be remedies against a lot of health problems. A lot of spices we use in Indian cooking are extremely healthy and have medicinal value. For example, cumin and fennel seeds are very useful to improve digestion. Herbs and spices have a lot of anti-oxidant properties. Asafoetida, ginger, fennel seeds, carom (ajwain or omam) and cumin are used in traditional Indian remedies to soothe upset tummies and help digestion. Garlic and turmeric have antiseptic and antioxidant benefits.

The following spices can be introduced in the baby’s diet:

1. A clove of garlic or a tiny piece of ginger can be grated into foods like shredded chicken or
dal while they are cooking.
2. Powdered spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander can be added a pinch at a time to chana, rajma, sambhar, dal and other gravies during cooking.
3. A few whole seeds like fennel (saunf), mustard (sarson) and cumin (jeera) are often spluttered in a teaspoon of ghee as tempering for dal, rice and sabzi.
4. A pinch of cinnamon (dalchini), nutmeg (jaiphal) or cardamom (elaichi) powder can be added to rice puddings (kheer or payasam) or other sweets.
5. Fresh herbs like mint (pudina) and coriander (dhania) can be used as a garnish in vegetables, curries and rice.

After 18 months, if your child is coping well with spice, ‘hot’ spices can be added. Add spices like chilli (mirch) and black pepper (kali mirch) in very small amounts.

Be careful with fresh green chillies (hari mirch) and raw chilli powder. Your baby’s sensitive tongue and tummy might not be able to tolerate it. You can tone down the heat of chillies by mixing curd into the dish.

While introducing spices to your baby, remember the following points:

1. Beware of adulteration
2. Check the expiry date
3. Check for impurities
4. Always keep them in a safe condition, away from direct sunlight and avoid moisture.
5. Store the spices in airtight containers to avoid intake of moisture


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