How To Introduce Your Child To Spicy Food Without Them Noticing

<span class="copyright">IndiaPix/IndiaPicture via Getty Images</span>
IndiaPix/IndiaPicture via Getty Images

This is a personal one for me and I know there are loads of parents out their who can relate. In some cultures like mine, we have really spicy food on a day to day basis.

For example, as a Pakistani mum I don’t think I ever cook food that doesn’t have a level of spice in it.

Of course it’s a big thing in south Asian communities, but spice in food also prevalent in the Latin community, east Asian cuisine, the Caribbean and loads of African countries.

As a first time parent it’s hard to know when to start adding spice to your child’s meals, you don’t want to put them off food and you’re also aware that they have brand new sensitive tummies.

But you also want them to eat the same food your eat, so what is the actual guideline on spicy food for babies?

When can babies eat spice?

According to children’s dietician, Lucy Upton, it’s actually a myth that babies shouldn’t eat spice!

She explains that children’s food doesn’t have to be bland and introducing herbs and spices as early as weaning and beyond is an easy way to introduce flavour, variety and plant diversity.

In fact, it may also support children to accept a wider range of foods in childhood.

Even chilli powders (such as cayenne, paprika) can often be introduced earlier than you think (even as a baby during weaning).

The NHS recommends you don’t add salt to your baby’s food, however you can replace this with small amounts of herbs and spices.

How do I introduce spice to my baby?

Lucy says she recommends starting with small amounts and avoiding hot varieties of chilli — namely anything that may cause an unpleasant burning sensation in a child’s mouth, or when consumed could cause some gastrointestinal upset.

Small amounts allow your baby to get used to the flavour, which you can slowly start to increase when you know they aren’t have a negative reaction to it, hopefully without them noticing!

“In older children, if you wish to introduce to spicier family meals, you may wish to start by offering a small amount first and using options like yoghurt or avocado to dampen down the spice level initially,” adds Lucy.

So next time you make your child a meal, try adding some herbs and spices — eventually they’ll be able to eat the same foods you eat, just have patience!