Feeding Solids

Why Does Baby Food Taste So Bad?

If you’ve ever tasted baby food or infant formula the first thing you’ve probably noticed is that it doesn’t smell or taste anywhere near as good as the food we eat as adults.

The reason for this is because baby food has very low (or no) levels of salt, and is made specifically for a baby’s developing taste buds.

But baby food doesn’t have to be boring or bland, so let’s take a look at what you can do to make baby food taste better.

Why Does Baby Food Taste Bad?

Lack of Salt

Too much salt is bad for babies, because their developing kidneys are not able to process the excess salt.

If a baby has too much salt the effects can be dangerous, including high blood pressure and even may even lead to hospitalization.

While this extreme may be rare, there’s no doubting that salt is not good for babies, so baby food manufacturers deliberately use very little or no salt in their recipes.

A lot of food that we consume as adults has added salt, which is either added during cooking or directly by us before we eat it.

So the lack of salt in baby food is very noticeable to us and makes baby food appear bland and boring.

Developing Taste Buds

A baby’s taste buds develop a lot over their first few months and during early childhood.

Newborn’s have a preference for sweeter flavours like breastmilk, and dislike bitter foods.

This may in-built and evolutionary, because the best baby foods (the most nutritious and highest in calories), are on the sweeter side, such as breast milk.

Babies and infants have not been exposed to any other, more interesting foods, so the type of food adults eat can be overpowering and too rich or complex for their simple and developing taste buds.

Why Is Baby Food So Bland?

As we’ve seen, one of the main reasons baby food tastes so bland for adults is because it contains a lot less salt than we are used to.

Another reason for the blandness is because babies prefer more simple flavours, and their food is often made with only a handful of ingredients so as not to overwhelm a baby’s developing taste buds and preferences.

two salt and pepper shakers sitting on a counter

Can You Add Salt To Baby Food?

Given baby food often tastes quite bland and boring, you might be wondering if you can add a little salt to your baby’s meals.

If your baby is under the age of 1, then experts recommend not adding any salt to their food as your baby’s developing kidneys are not able to effectively process salt.

When Can You Add Salt To Baby Food?

Once your baby turns one, your should be fine to introduce a little bit of salt into their diet.

How much is the recommended amount?

In the USA the recommendation for children aged 1-3 years is 2g of salt per day (around 1/4 a teaspoon).

However, even if your child is over 3, there are still dangers to giving your baby to much salt.

This is because a child that grows up eating a lot of salty food may have a strong lifelong preference for salty flavours, which may lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stokes in later life.

So if salt is off the table, how else can you improve the flavor of baby food?

How To Make Baby Food Taste Better?

As we’ve seen, adding salt to improve the flavor of baby food is a no-go before the age of one, and even after that it should only be added sparingly.

So what else can you do to improve the taste of the food you give to your little one?

Deepening on what you are making, you could try adding a little breast milk if you have an oversupply and are looking for ways to prevent dumping your liquid gold.

But for most people, the best and easiest ways to improve the taste of baby food is by adding herbs and spices!

When To Introduce Herbs & Spices To Your Baby?

Spice Bottles on Shelf

Unlike salt, most herbs and spices do not pose a health risk to your baby.

For this reasons you should be able to introduce herbs and spices from the age of 8-9 months onwards.

Given these flavours will be new to your baby, it’s best to start small and gradually increase the amount you put in their food over time.

Another useful tip is to only introduce one or two new flavors at a time, to increase the chances of your baby liking these new flavors and to make it easier to tell which ones they dislike.

Is Seasoning Safe For Baby Food?

Yes, seasoning is safe for baby food, and it’s a terrific way to develop your little one’s taste buds.

Below is a list of hers and spices that millions of parents give to the babies, some of which not only improve flavor, but also have added benefits such as aiding digestion and improving immunity.

  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Mint
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

See Also: Your Must Have Baby & Toddler Feeding Guide

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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