Can Babies Eat Pepper as a Seasoning? Black Pepper and More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Black pepper, white pepper, and other forms of this common spice are popular for dishes from mashed potatoes to eggs and more. However, can your baby have pepper in their food? 

Overall, adding small amounts of spices like pepper to baby food is safe. However, avoid whole pieces of pepper, such as whole peppercorns, as they can be a choking hazard.

In this article, we will dive deeper into the different varieties of pepper, what is “too much” pepper, and more. 

Is Pepper Safe for Babies? When? 

Babies can safely have spices, including a bit of pepper, incorporated into their foods beginning when they reach six months old (source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

Rather than only serving your baby bland foods and avoiding adding spices, introducing pepper can help introduce your baby to various flavors and build a solid foundation for healthy eating in the future.

Pepper is one of the more spicy seasonings with varieties, including black pepper, with a sharp and distinct flavor. White pepper is made from black peppercorns that have had the outside layer removed to reveal the white side. However, they often have an even more robust flavor.

white pepper and black pepper separated

Pepper made from both green and pink peppercorns has their own unique taste. However, a commonality between types of pepper is that they are slightly spicy and have a relatively intense flavor, especially when a lot is used. 

Therefore, the stronger flavors of pepper, such as white pepper, are perhaps spices better left for older babies to try. Yet, there is no safety concern about introducing pepper at six months old. 

However, it is best to avoid altogether feeding whole peppercorns to your baby completely. They are small and often slightly hard, increasing the risk of choking. Instead, only utilize ground pepper in your baby’s food.

In a sauce cooked with peppercorns, make sure to remove the peppercorns before feeding your baby the sauce. 

With ground pepper, start with a very small amount in your baby’s food and monitor for any signs of intolerance, such as gas, indigestion, or diarrhea. However, every baby is different, so the spices you should be cautious of feeding them are not set in stone.

In other words, your baby may love pepper in their food, while another baby may not tolerate it. Also, if your baby accepts a small amount of pepper at first, gradually increase the amount and continue to monitor for signs of intolerance. 

vegetable creamy soup with croutons and black pepper

There are many delicious ways to incorporate pepper into your baby’s foods and meals, including black pepper. For example, you could add pepper to mashed potatoes, add to meat, or sprinkle it on top of fish.

Make sure you are adding pepper to dishes that are appropriately and safely prepared for your baby’s age and following food safety guidelines. 

There is also the possibility that your baby could be allergic to one or more types of pepper. While pepper is not one of the most common food allergies in babies, there is always a risk that your baby can be allergic to any food.

Therefore, introduce unfamiliar foods (including a new variety of spices) to your baby at least three days apart so that you can identify the cause if a food allergy were to occur.

After introducing pepper for the first time, monitor for signs of a food allergic reaction, including hives, rashes, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, and more (source: American Academy of Pediatrics). 

I hope this article helped reduce the fear associated with feeding spices to your baby and provided guidance on how to do so safely.