Giving a baby a taco may sound like a good idea if you yourself are currently eating them, but overall it’s not a good idea for several reasons.
Infants between birth and 6 months only require milk as their main source of nourishment. Once your baby is approximately 6 months of age, it is safe to start incorporating solid food into their diet. However, this solid food should consist of rice cereal and mashed-up fruits and vegetables at first.
It is necessary to ease a baby into more harsh, chewable foods since infants do not start teething until approximately 3-5 months of age. Nevertheless, these newborn teeth are not as strong as our adult teeth so cannot handle all of the rough food we consume on a daily basis.
Can I Give My Baby a Taco? Answer: Not Recommended
Tacos range in ingredients from region to region, but the most basic taco consists of a shell, seasoned meat, cheese, and lettuce. Taco shells can range from soft flour, to corn, or crunchy tortilla, and appear all shapes and sizes. No matter the kind of shell, it is not safe to feed to an infant right away. To be sensitive to any allergies the child may have, steering clear of most wheat and gluten based products for most of infancy is best. Crunchy taco shells will damage an infant’s gums and/or developing teeth, throat, and stomach.
Some homemade taco seasoning contains chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. These spices are too strong for infants to consume and could significantly harm the child, even if given in small amounts.
Other Various Ingredients
Among the other ingredients in tacos, use caution when deciding whether or not to feed it to the child. Cheese, sour cream, and other dairy ingredients should be introduced slowly to the child to prevent any allergies and/or allergic reactions. These foods should not be combined and given in bulk, but should be gradually incorporated into the diet. The lettuce, tomato, and variety of other vegetables that one would put on a taco could also be harmful to the infant. Babies are not supposed to be eating such vegetables that require much chewing and consumption. Most importantly, if the taco is not properly cut up for the infant, there is a risk of choking that could be hazardous.
Processed vs. Homemade
In the debate of whether a homemade taco or a processed taco is a healthier option, the homemade taco wins every time. Homemade may not always be the cheapest or the faster option, but it certainly is the healthiest. Taking the time to prepare the meat, seasoning and all, is the best way to ensure that the meat is fresh and properly cooked. Also providing fresh vegetables, cheese, and other dairy ingredients ensures that the tacos will be fresh and healthy in comparison to other mass produced tacos on the market.
Most processed meats contain an ingredient titled “pink slime”. This is in fact just what it sounds like, and is still a problem in the beef industry. Many restaurants and fast food chains are guilty of using this in their menu items. This is not to say that all beef products from fast food joints are tainted, but they are certainly not safe for an infant. Among the “pink slime” issue, processed tacos contain a large amount of unneeded sodium and processed ingredients. This means that they are not fresh, healthy ingredients that your baby should be consuming and are unnecessary for the child that this time in their lives.
Potentially Harmful Ingredients
It is found that when introducing spices, hot spices are more dangerous than the aromatic spices. Aromatic include cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, ginger, and other spices not considered ‘hot’ or ‘spicy’. Hot and spicy spices are harmful to babies because of the pain that they cause. This kind of spice includes red pepper flakes, curry, Cajun seasonings, and chili powders.
We have pain receptors on our tongues and in our stomachs that send messages to the brain when activated. Infants have a stronger reaction to these pain receptors since they are so young and their taste buds and receptors are not used to such tastes. Introducing spicy foods early on can damage a child’s pain receptors, taste buds, and stomachs. This is often when causes stomach problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and diseases of that sort.
Waiting until a child is at least one year old to introduce hot spices is the safest idea for your child, so as not to spark any discomfort or detrimental issues later on in life. However, aromatic spices are completely safe for your child and are encouraged to liven up bland food that you child may be consuming. Feeding a child the wrong foods too early on will create aversions, allergies, and destroy important pain receptors that the child needs later in life.
Always use caution when introducing dairy products and other ingredients to the child to be aware of any oncoming allergies. If a child spits out a food that you try to feed them, there is a good reason for it. Do not force a child to consume a food that may be harmful to them. Gradually work up to incorporating more solid, spiced foods to the infant. If you are unsure about anything, always ask a doctor or pediatrician, as they will be able to provide you with a wide range of resources and other recommendations.