We’ve all heard that eating a hot curry could help kick start labour if you’re uncomfortable, overdue at willing to try anything to speed things along. Whether it’s an old wives tale or not, there is actually some science behind it, the subject of babies and spicy foods has received much debate, even amongst the professionals.
So, I’ve looked into when babies can and should be able to taste spicy foods and then come up with a few gentle ways that you can introduce some more exotic foods into your baby’s diet.
Like we said said there’s no hard and fast rule as to when babies are ‘allowed’ to try spicy foods, some mums on forums across the internet are letting their babies try spicy foods from as young as 8 months but other sources suggest not to try until they’re at least 12 months old. Some dieticians say that as a child’s intestinal system will be more developed and able to digest spicy meals then 2 years old is best but others suggest introducing it earlier on will build up a tolerance for spicier foods.
It will vary from baby to baby and no one knows your child better than you do. So if your baby tends to be sensitive to new foods then maybe hold off for a few months. When introducing spice do this in moderation and start with the mild aromatic spices like cinnamon and coriander. Introduce one spice at a time so that if it does trigger either an allergy or upset their tummy then you can isolate the cause and avoid it in future.
Times have changed and mums are becoming more open to introducing exotic and varied foods into their baby or child’s diet. There’s a general consensus that if you eat spicy foods during pregnancy and breast feeding then your baby will have already built up a tolerance and even a taste for spicier flavours.
It’s important for children to develop a healthy relationship with food and this includes eating foods of all different kinds not to mention from all different countries around the world.
It doesn’t have to be hard work introducing new food to your baby, just give them a little bit of whatever you’re eating as long as it’s not too hot and spicy. There’s a difference between aromatic spices and hot spices. Hot spices like chilli may be too overpowering for young babies and children as they may cause the mouth and brain to interpret the taste as painful because of all the clever things that happen when we taste food, like the way it stimulates our pain receptors and this may be a stronger reaction in babies and children.
Stick to aromatic spices first of all like ginger, garlic, dill, cumin and turmeric as these are much softer on the palette. Then slowly introduce hot spices a tiny bit at a time to build up a tolerance of the different flavours. If you introduce too much too fast then your child might be put off for a long time.
But, don’t be scared of introducing spices and exotic flavours into your baby’s diet. Countries like India, Latin America and the Caribbean have been doing it for thousands of years and not only does this mean you’ll expand your baby’s palette making it much easier to feed them later on, spices equal flavour so you can cut down on the sugar and salt needed to make their food taste good.
So, as we can see there’s a lot of debate over the exact age babies should try spicy foods but know one knows your baby as well as you do so there is no right or wrong answer and what’s best for one baby might not be best for another.
If you do want to start introducing a bit of pizzazz into your baby’s daily diet then start off gently with mild spiced rice and beans with a bit of gravy, or mashed sweet potatoes with a few aromatic spices added. There are loads of fantastic and delicious Caribbean recipes available and if you change up just a few of the ingredients and mash them up slightly they can be perfect for babies too.
About the author:
Ian Garstang is a seasoned traveler and budding chef. When not entertaining his two children with exotic dishes, he specialises in luxury property marketing working with amazing developments such as Zemi Beach Luxury Resort and Real Estate.