Can I Give My Baby Kimchi?

Can I give my baby kimchi?One of our visitors recently posed the question of whether it’s a good idea to give a baby kimchi or not.

Kimchi is a staple food in Korea, eaten at many meals including breakfast. It’s most popular form is a spicy fermented cabbage that gets its spiciness from red chili flakes. But there are also many forms of vegetables that are known as kimchi, and they can vary throughout the different seasons depending on which vegetables are ripe at which times.

This means that whether or not you can give your baby kimchi depends largely on the type of kimchi you are considering. If it is the red colored, spicy cabbage kimchi it’s best to hold off on that until your child is a little more developed and able to handle spicier foods.

Can I Give My Baby Kimchi? Answer: Depends on the Type

With such an assortment of kimchi out there, it’s impossible to make an across the board statement on it, and you’ll have to break down the ingredients of the type that you are thinking of to get your answer. Kimchi that is made using fresh vegetables and not a lot of strong substances like red pepper and vinegar may be alright. But the fermenting process will likely leave most kimchi either too hot and spicy, or too sour and vinegary for your baby.

Health Benefits
Few can deny the health benefits of kimchi for adults, as it helps aid in digestion by adding the right intestinal flora due to its fermented nature. This is a similar benefit that sauerkraut provides. But when you consider that a baby typically doesn’t need digestive help because they are getting a very regulated diet, this benefit is not as strong as it is for adults. But there are aspects of kimchi that you might also be thinking will help you baby, like the impressive amounts of Vitamin C, as well as iron and calcium, things that any baby can benefit. So at this point you’ll need to do a costs/benefits analysis.

Spiciness Concerns
The spice level of kimchi is your main concern here, and whether or not your baby’s palate and stomach can handle it. In the first year, a baby’s system is still developing, so it’s best not to feed them foods that could cause an inflammation for them. Kimchi that isn’t spicy is usually sour or bitter, hitting different taste buds and providing a different flavor altogether. Consider mul-kimchi, which is not very spicy, but has a strong taste nonetheless due to the vinegar.

Sodium Concerns
Depending on the type of kimchi you’re using there could have been a lot of salt used during the fermentation process. You want to keep your baby’s sodium levels in check and not give them things that will overload their delicate system. The Nutrion Information labels you see on foods are for adults, and babies have their own Recommended Daily Values for things like sodium and they’re far lower than for adults.

Giving Baby Cabbage
You can still give your baby the main benefits of kimchi, by giving them cabbage. You can steam cabbage until it is nice and soft, and then puree it or chop it into bite sized pieces if your baby is eating finger foods. This way they’re getting all the positive benefits of cabbage, without the added spices, salts, and perhaps vinegar. And if you were considering giving your baby other types of kimchi made from cucumbers, carrots, or other vegetables, you can still use those veggies, just leave the spices out of the mix and your baby will thank you.

We could find no evidence that your baby would derive any specific benefit from the spicy nature of most kimchi, so it’s recommended not to give it to them because of the reaction they may have, both from putting it in their mouth, and again when they’re trying to digest it. Instead, opt to give your baby a good amount of vegetables by preparing them fresh either by steaming or boiling them, and then serving them according to their age.

And of course if you still have any questions regarding giving your baby kimchi, consult with their pediatrician.

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