Introducing new foods to your baby can be an exciting but nerve-wracking time. Questioning what is safe to try and what isn’t is common. If you are wondering, “Can babies have cinnamon?” and are thinking of adding cinnamon to your baby’s apple sauce or oatmeal, we talked to two experts to get all the information to help you introduce cinnamon safely.
Yes, it’s safe for babies to have cinnamon as long as they are eating solid foods. “There are no restrictions on cinnamon or any spice,” says Ellen McCue, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at NAPS, a newborn and parenting support platform. She suggests offering babies any spice that you enjoy, which can benefit your child in the long run. “Research shows the more variety of flavors a baby is exposed to, the better eater they are in years to come,” explains McCue.
Chanel Kenner, RD, is also a fan of feeding babies cinnamon. However, there are a few things that parents should be aware of when adding this spice to their baby’s food. “A large amount of cinnamon may cause an upset stomach, skin or mouth irritation, and blood clotting issues. There is a compound in cinnamon known as coumarin, which is an anticoagulant.”
So, parents, especially those introducing cinnamon to their baby for the first time, should use it in small amounts before they know how the child will react. “Adding a light sprinkle of cinnamon to enhance the flavor of a baby’s food is not likely to cause them any harm.”
Generally, all spices are safe for babies. If you’re unsure where to start, Kenner recommends that parents incorporate spices they use regularly in family mealtime. “This begins the process early of preparing similar foods for your baby as you do for the rest of your family. I’m a fan of getting your little ones used to various flavors through consistent and repeat exposure,” she says.
Kenner’s favourite spices include cinnamon, cumin, paprika, coriander, nutmeg, dill, fennel, thyme, rosemary, garam masala, and salt-free mild curry powder. So feel free to experiment. After all, variety is the spice of life.
While most spices sold at regular grocery stores and supermarkets are high quality and pure—Kenner suggests checking that the spices you use do not contain any added salt. “Babies have a very low tolerance to sodium because their kidneys can’t handle very much.”
You might not know or even think to look if certain spices and seasonings contain salt, but it’s crucial to check the jar, especially if listed as a “mix” or a “seasoning.” Examples include taco seasoning, chili lime spice (known mainly as the brand Tajin), chili seasoning, and pumpkin spice seasoning. Remember that ingredients may vary between brands, so you should always read the bottle or jar before adding it to your baby’s food.
Note that anything “hot” should definitely be avoided. According to Kenner, this includes spices such as chilli, medium and spicy curry, hot paprika, cayenne pepper, and other pepper-based spices.
But if your family regularly enjoys hot food, don’t fret. The RD advises waiting until after the baby’s first birthday. “These spices can cause negative reactions because they trigger pain receptors in the brain. When you begin introducing these spices, it should be done in small amounts,” she says.
McCue tells me that cinnamon isn’t on the high-allergy foods list. “Highly allergenic foods include peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.” Still, it’s not impossible to have an allergic reaction to or have issues with cinnamon.
However, there’s very little need to worry (after all, parents have enough to worry about). Kenner tells me it’s pretty uncommon to have issues with cinnamon. “People with asthma may be sensitive to cinnamon if inhaled. Possible food allergy symptoms to look out for include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach aches, irritability, crying, swelling and/or hives, eczema patches, and trouble breathing.”
According to Kenner, cinnamon is generally considered safe for babies in small amounts by six months of age when they are ready for solids. “Cinnamon allergies are not common in children or adults.”
“While herbs and spices are generally a great way to flavor baby’s meals, it can also be helpful to offer less flavor, or incorporate other flavors, such as a small amount of unsalted butter, low-sodium cheese, or olive or avocado oil. These can promote a mild flavor and also boost nutrition in a baby’s diet,” says Kenner.
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