Peppers come in so many different varieties and heat levels, you might be wondering if they’re OK to give your baby, and when.
They tend to be used a lot in many different dishes due to their striking color and the flavor they add to an otherwise bland dish. You’ll want to avoid the spicy kinds, and stick to the ones that don’t make your mouth burn, and especially keep away from the ones that burn on the way out.
What’s nice about bell peppers is that they’re very versatile, and relatively easy to prepare. They’re also always available from your local grocery store, so they can be a regular item on your baby’s menu, if they show you that they like them and have no issues with them.
Can I Give My Baby Peppers? Answer: Bell Peppers, Yes. Hot Peppers, No.
Hot peppers are a no go, and that includes all of the peppers you see being used in mainstream recipes these days like jalapenos, a chipotle, and even habanero peppers. The only peppers that make the grade are bell peppers, as they don’t have the kick that other peppers do, but they come with their share of positive benefits to your baby.
Stick to Bell Peppers at First
Green, yellow, and red bell peppers are the least spicy, but still contain many vitamins and nutrients that can help your baby be healthy. The reason they lack the spiciness of their other pepper cousins is that they don’t contain capsaicin, the substance that lends the heat to other peppers, and that makes your lips, tongue, and mouth burn.
World’s Healthiest Foods lists the health benefits of bell peppers, which includes containing antioxidants which contribute to anti-cancer benefits. They also mention that there is some controversy regarding them, so it’s best to buy organic for your baby to make sure they are getting high quality peppers without insecticides, and herbicides.
When you first introduce peppers to your baby, make sure that you do it away from other new foods so you can see how they digest it, and to make sure there’s no problems. This will help you single it out to the peppers and not confuse it with other potentially aggravating foods.
Don’t Spice Things Up
It’s best to hold off on spicy foods for the first few years, and most definitely in the first year. Your baby’s digestive system is still developing during that first year, and spicy foods can really give it a problem. You’re the gatekeeper to what your child is eating, so it’s important not to give them things that could cause undue stress to their development.
How to Prepare Peppers
How you prepare the peppers will depend entirely on what phase of development your baby is in. If they are still be spoon-fed pureed foods then you’ll need to puree the peppers like you would other vegetables. You’ll need to cook them first so that they can be easily pureed. Steaming them is a fast and easy way to soften them up, while still preserving the nutrients they contain.
If your baby is sitting up on their own and grasping their own foods, you might try giving them finely diced bell peppers. And if they’re got enough teeth to chew them up you can try giving them cubes and see how well they handle them.
Keep a Food Journal
With so many fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to introduce to your baby, it’s best to keep a food journal either online, or in a notebook that you keep handy. List the day and time that you give your baby new foods, and write any notes that you feel should be taken so that you have a reference to look at in the future. It sure beats trying to keep track of all of the foods in your head.
Later on when your child is ready for more complex foods, it’s simply a matter of taking foods from the OK list and combining them for new taste sensations. And if you’re feeding your baby fresh, healthy foods, you’ll also be combining the health benefits of those foods, making them even more powerful and effective for your little one.