At one year old, babies can eat spicy foods at an amount and degree they can tolerate. Herbs and spices in baby food are beneficial in helping toddlers develop their taste buds. You can start adding mild spices after they have familiarized themselves with the bland solid foods first. But be cautious since young children are prone to food sensitivities and allergies. Spicy foods may not trigger allergies; however, these foods may cause upset stomach and acid reflux.
When introducing intense spices to your child, start with small amounts and with tolerable spiciness.
Make your toddler think that hot spice is just another flavor instead of introducing it as something really hot. So start small and increase the amount at your next food prep.
Spices in toddler foods
Like adults, toddlers also want to eat palatable foods. Letting them enjoy a variety of flavors and food textures early on will widen their food preferences. It will prevent them from becoming picky eaters, which usually happens at toddler age.
Even hot and spicy foods can be a welcome zing to a toddler’s taste buds. But of course, do not just mix herbs and spices on your little one’s first foods at six months. You need to start them with bland and simple ones to develop their awareness of individual ingredients.
You can eventually add in different tastes one at a time. It will stop them from associating the foods to the spices that you add. Hence, they will see beans as beans and not as the hot chili beans they might avoid eating in the future.
If your toddler refuses the spicy food, do not force him on it and simplify the dish next time. If he develops an upset stomach after eating the stuff, avoid serving the thing again.
However, according to Dr. Stephen Borowitz, a professor at the University of Virginia, hot spice is not mostly the problem. It is likely the grease in food that comes with it that causes gastrointestinal disturbances.
How to properly introduce spicy foods to babies?
A few years ago, a parent was under fire in a viral video of her feeding her baby with wasabi instituting a possible child abuse.
Pediatricians and dieticians countered that it is no big deal in meals except when the purpose is just to see the child’s reaction.
For countries where the cuisines are bursting with spices, children are introduced to fiery foods as early as one year old.
In countries like Mexico and India, toddlers eat whatever adults are served. It means spicy main dishes like hot tortilla soup or Indian curry.
Fortunately, parents today are more open to letting their babies experience different food flavors. That is why some parents are wondering whether hot food is okay for their toddlers.
Spicy foods are generally okay, but they may trigger the nerves to feel the heat. The capsaicin content of hot spices signals the brain to feel pain. It results in a burning tongue sensation, and toddlers may not welcome that kind of pain.
It may only cause food aversion instead of widening their taste preferences. That is why adding spices to their first solid foods isn’t done until their first birthday.
According to registered dietician Andrea Carpenter, if babies do not react to it, there is no reason to avoid giving them hot-spiced foods.
Here are some tips for serving spicy rations, or any new foods in general, to your toddler:
- Introduce aromatic spices before the hot ones
- Use fresh spices not beyond their expiration dates
- Always start with small dosages and meager food amount
- Keep an eye on sensitivities
- Serve new foods only during breakfast or lunch to easily get medical help in case of allergy
- Follow the four-day rule in introducing new foods
When serving a new food to your toddler, always make use of the four-day rule.
It means feeding your baby that new food for four days along with other safe foods you have already introduced. It is to evaluate sensitivities and identify potential food problems in your baby.
Will babies choke on spicy foods?
Babies may only choke on food in sizes that are too big and difficult for them to chew and swallow. They may cough when eating hot foods (even adults do), but it does not constitute choking. Choking happens only when the airway is blocked by foreign objects.
Is it true that breastfed babies are more hot food tolerant?
If you are breastfeeding and eat spicy stuff, there is a possibility that your baby has a higher tolerance for spicy foods too.
It is due to trace flavors and substances that are passed on to the breastmilk that breastfed babies become familiar with. Pregnant women who eat spicy foods may also impart it through the amniotic fluid and increase the baby’s tolerance to hot foods.
Can babies eat food with salt?
Salt in baby food is only ideal also after one year of age but only in a small amount. If possible, avoid salt altogether and use herbs and spices as an alternative instead.
Feeding your baby with solid foods is an exciting phase in both his life and yours. More than anything, you want to introduce him to flavors that you also love as an adult. When it comes to spicy foods, toddlers can take it in, but only at the intensity they can tolerate.
Let your baby enjoy a variety of flavors, but always be alert of potential food problems. The goal is to let babies love the food that they take and not take their interests out of mealtime.