Can Babies Eat Spicy Food? Will it Cause Gas? 

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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You may wonder if giving your baby spicy foods is safe and if it can cause any gas or digestion issues. This article will answer that question and more, including when to introduce spicy foods. 

Overall, mildly spicy food is safe for your baby and is encouraged because it can increase their acceptance of different flavors and spice levels. However, starting slowly and adding mild spice in very small amounts is essential. While spicy food can cause gas in your baby, any food can, so you should monitor for intolerance. 

Let’s break down more information about feeding your baby spicy foods and how and when to do it safely. Read on to learn more.

Can Babies Have Spicy Food? Is it Safe for Them?

Spicy food is safe and actually encouraged for babies when they are at least six months old. Many babies worldwide are very accustomed to spicy foods as part of their country’s cuisine.

Spicy pumpkin puree with cinnamon, anise and ginger.

However, in the United States, many parents worry about feeding their babies more flavorful foods and instead stick with bland cereals and purees. While spicy food in this sense does not mean extremely hot spices, it simply means flavorful foods and recipes, such as those flavored with cinnamon, garlic, ginger, or lemon! 

Incorporating spicy foods into your baby’s diet can train them to enjoy different flavors, which is especially helpful for future eating habits (source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). Additionally, spice helps your baby expect to change with food and helps them develop a complex palate. 

When your baby is at least six months old, start with a small amount of spice or use herbs that have been thoroughly washed and pureed or minced very small (source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). 

Since any food can cause intolerance in your baby, spicy food is no different. If your baby is trying spicy food for the first time or has a new flavor of any kind, look for any adverse reaction, such as gas, diarrhea, or indigestion. However, there is no indication that you should avoid feeding foods with mild spices out of fear of a negative reaction.

When Can Spicy Food Be Introduced to Babies? 

Mildly spicy foods can be introduced to your baby when they reach six months old. 

Some good introductory foods can be pureed bananas with cinnamon, mashed vegetables with garlic powder, and more! Remember to start with just a dash of spice and then increase from there. 

Wait until they are a bit older to try hot foods such as those with chilis or hot peppers. 

Will Spicy Food Cause Gas or Diarrhea in Breastfed Babies?

You can safely consume spicy foods while you are breastfeeding. You should have a wide variety of flavors in your diet while you are breastfeeding to expose your baby to new tastes. 

Fresh homemade applesauce (apple puree, mousse, baby food, sauce) with cinnamon (spices), spoon and apples on wooden table

A study found that many women unnecessarily restrict their food intact while breastfeeding (source: Korean Journal of Pediatrics).

Most commonly restricted were caffeine, cold, spicy, and raw foods. In fact, a whopping 85.5% of mothers avoided or limited spicy foods while breastfeeding. However, the study identified no foods that needed to be absolutely avoided during breastfeeding. 

While the flavors you consume while breastfeeding change the taste of your breast milk, it is not necessarily bad! On the contrary, consuming different flavors during breastfeeding can benefit your baby because it allows them to like new flavors (source: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism). 

The flip side to this is that if your breastfed baby reacts negatively to spicy food, such as experiencing gas or diarrhea, then it should be limited. However, there is no telling if your baby will respond negatively to spicy food since they can have an adverse reaction to any food. 

I hope this article helped discuss the benefits of spicy food for your baby and how to incorporate delicious spices into their diet safely.