Spicy foods for toddlers

Q: Our 2-year old loves spicy food (really spicy!). Is there any harm in him eating these foods?

A: Spicy food isn’t a problem for children. Usually the problem is getting them to try spicier than normal foods. There are only a few rare foods that can actually cause a chemical burn to the skin and mucous membranes, and most families stay away from them. 

The higher level of spiciness doesn’t generally cause allergies, so this concern is also minimized.

The overall level of spiciness in foods is usually determined by cultural or ethnic factors. In some cultures, for example, children get exposed to high levels of “hot” foods and do just fine. On the other hand, if children aren’t exposed to spicy foods early in life, they may not acquire a taste for these later in life.

As always, the most important consideration for food is offer your child a healthy variety of foods. That, in combination with a healthy amount of physical activity each day, will serve your child well in the long run.