Especially if you come from a culture where spicy flavors are commonplace, you’re probably wondering if it’s okay to introduce your newborn to these flavors. While a baby’s digestive system is delicate, spicy food isn’t necessarily harmful, so it’s a difficult choice to make on your own. Once you introduce new food into your baby’s diet, spicy food doesn’t have to be completely avoided, but there are certain things that might make him more likely to enjoy it. Experts agree that you should go easy on the spicy food in your baby’s diet until he turns two. That’s when his digestive system will have become accustomed to a great variety of flavors and textures, so spicy food won’t seem as harsh. However, it’s okay to introduce some spicy flavors early on to make him accustomed to them.

Studies show that babies born to mothers who ate spicy food during pregnancy are more likely to enjoy them as well. Though spicy flavors might make heartburn more likely when you’re pregnant, it’s okay to eat them if you simply can’t resist. Especially if you commonly eat spicy foods based on your cultural background, your baby will fit right in as soon as he’s born. He will better be able to handle a little taste of that spicy salsa or curry you let him try because his body is no stranger to the heat.

However, even if you have been eating spicy foods during your pregnancy, you should still be careful about adding new hot foods because there’s a chance it could cause stomach pain and difficult digestion. If your baby seems to be in pain after trying something hot, make note of it and avoid it in future meals. When you feel like your baby’s palate might be ready in a few months or years, you can try again.

I know plenty of adults who still don’t enjoy spicy foods and flavors. On the other hands, most of my acquaintances can’t even find food that’s hot enough to satisfy their spice-addiction. It’s okay to leave the heat out of your baby’s food and let him discover it in his own time. If he isn’t part of a culture where spicy food is commonplace, he will try it eventually when he’s older and make the decision for himself about whether or not he likes it. Chances are he’ll share your preferences either way.

Source: Bhavadharini Ramu et al: Prevalence and Risk Factors for Gastroesophageal Reflux in Pregnancy. Indian Journal of Gastroenterology Volume 30 Issue 3 pp.144-147 May 2011

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