Spicy Foods Are Okay for Babies

My wife Rachel turned me on to an article running over at Fox News (which is a good thing, since it’s not a place I normally visit myself). In it, the author basically concludes that after a baby is six months old, it’s fine to feed him or her just about anything you want to give them. So I guess it’s [mother’s] milk before meat (1 Cor. 3:2), but after that you can offer whatever’s on the table.

From the article:

It turns out most advice parents get about weaning infants onto solid foods – even from pediatricians – is more myth than science.

That’s right, rice cereal may not be the best first food. Peanut butter doesn’t have to wait until after the first birthday. Offering fruits before vegetables won’t breed a sweet tooth. And strong spices? Bring ‘em on.

“There’s a bunch of mythology out there about this,” says Dr. David Bergman (search), a Stanford University pediatrics professor. “There’s not much evidence to support any particular way of doing things.”

As is pretty typical here in America, experts come up with guidelines without any research whatsoever, and worried first-time parents (and even those with other children) take these guidelines as rules, and set about to follow the protocol exactly.

It all comes down to just feeding babies healthy food, like everyone should be eating. If it isn’t a choking hazard, and the baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction to it, go for it. Nancy Butte, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine, even suggests that iron-rich meat, not highly-processed baby foods, would be a better choice for a baby’s first food.

It seems logical then, that exposing young children to more flavorful foods could help broaden their palate, adjusting better to different foods later on. Most of my kids have a higher tolerance for spicy food than my wife Rachel does, since I’ve always given them some of what I’m eating when they’ve asked, and I tend to like things pretty hot. I don’t know the outcome of this in the long run, but for right now it means that I can spice things up when I do the cooking, and not have to worry about the kids not being able to eat it.

As always, “you are the expert in your home,” but if you enjoy it, let the kids eat it too.