Moving on from the somewhat bland flavours of early weaning foods can be challenging for you and your baby. Most babies have an inherently sweet tooth, and it’s common for them to turn up their noses at some of the stronger flavours that you try to introduce.
But although this independent phase can be a frustrating one, now is the time to get your little one accustomed to a range of new tastes, so start adding small quantities of herbs and spices to your cooking. It can take a baby up to 14 attempts to get used to a new flavour, so ignore the expressions of disgust and keep offering – it could help to ward of fussiness at the toddler stage.
Spices are not just for curries, so try adding a pinch of cinnamon or ginger to mashed pears, apples and bananas. As well as introducing your baby to a new flavour, these spices will also take away a little of the sweetness, helping to train her palate away from craving too many sweet things. They can also give extra flavour to vegetables such as carrots, squashes and sweet potato.
Fresh green herbs such as basil, coriander and parsley have a mild and fragrant flavour that can be very appealing to little tastebuds. Try adding basil and oregano to pureed tomatoes to make a delicious pasta sauce, or whip up a homemade parsley sauce (white sauce with fresh parsley chopped in) to serve with fish and vegetables.
If you’ve yet to move on from chicken, now is the time to introduce your child to protein- and iron-rich red meats like beef and lamb. These meats have a stronger flavour than poultry, so to get her used to them gradually, make sure they’re cooked until tender, for example in a casserole or slow cooker, and combine them at first with favourite tastes like sweet potato or squash.
The more flavours you can introduce at this stage, the better, and onions are ideal for seasoning a whole range of dishes. The strong taste gives flavour without you needing to fall back on adding salt to home-cooked meals, and works well in everything from shepherd’s pie to pasta sauces. Finely chopped spring onions have a milder flavour and work well in rice dishes and omelettes.
Stronger fish tastes
Once your child has experienced white fish, vary her diet with oily fish such as tuna or mackerel, which has a stronger taste and is full of valuable nutrients including protein, iodine and vitamin D, as well as omega 3 fatty acids – essential for brain and eye development. Oily fish like salmon and tuna goes well with pasta and rice.
Remember, all children are different, and some may be more resistant to accepting a new food, but do persevere: it may take several tries before your baby decides she likes a new taste.