Can My Baby Have Cinnamon?

baby eating applesauce with cinnamon

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While typical baby foods tend to be nutritious, they don’t have a reputation for being particularly flavorful. Although babies don’t seem to mind, if you’d like to jazz up your new eater’s first meals, you can absolutely start with cinnamon. After all, it goes well with many baby-friendly favorites, like sweet potatoes, apple sauce, baby cereal, and softened pears, and is neither a common allergen or stomach irritant, says Mark R. Corkins, MD, division chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Tennessee.

Once you’ve introduced the main ingredients above to your baby, a sprinkle of cinnamon can go a long way in expanding their palate (and making leftovers much more palatable for parents).  “The worst thing that can happen is they don’t like it,” says Dr. Corkins. Here’s what you should know before spicing up your baby’s food with cinnamon.

Is Cinnamon Safe for My Baby?

While there are no guidelines for feeding spices or seasonings to babies, pediatricians generally recommend introducing one food at a time—and the same goes for spices and seasonings. “You want to limit lurking variables,” Dr. Corkins says, adding that this can help you identify and eliminate ingredients that don’t agree with your child. 

Signs that a food isn’t going down so smoothly include bloating, diarrhea, irritability, or generalized rashes, according to Dr. Corkins. “Babies aren’t good at communicating when they’re in gastrointestinal distress, so look for visual bloating and consider whether fussiness is just a sign that they are overtired,” he says. For what it’s worth, he’s never seen a cinnamon reaction. 

The most common food allergies in children are milk, egg, wheat, and soy as well as peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

As you can see, cinnamon isn’t on the list. As such, after your child has enjoyed their first few servings of a single ingredient you’d like to use as a vehicle for cinnamon—think softened apples or sweet potatoes—without signs of indigestion or allergy, you have the green light to add a sprinkle of cinnamon or any other spice, Dr. Corkins says. 

Every baby is different. Be sure to consult with a pediatrician if you have any questions about giving your infant cinnamon.

Benefits of Giving Baby Cinnamon

Much research has speculated on the benefits of cinnamon, which has been used in the treatment of diabetes, cancer, inflammation, and more to variable effects. Because no research has been done on the health benefits of cinnamon for babies, in particular, there’s no reason to believe the spice is anything more than a flavoring agent to make your baby’s first meals more interesting.

“Feeding cinnamon to a baby is not harmful, and the baby will benefit by being exposed to a new flavor,” says Angela Tsuang, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of allergy and immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “It can help a baby become accustomed to a varied diet early on in life.” 

Research supports the idea that increased exposure to a variety of flavors during infancy may reduce the incidence of picky eating—a good thing if you’d like to sidestep toddler food battles and prepare your child’s palate for fine dining down the road.

Safety Precautions

It's worth noting that consuming too much cassia cinnamon, a variety grown in Southeast Asia which is the most commonly distributed in North America, could pose health risks among adults. The spice contains a chemical called coumarin that can harm the liver. That said, you can rest assured that while there’s no research on the upper limits for babies, researchers believe that you’d need more than a pinch here and there to cause significant problems.

There are no known risks in adding a sprinkle of spice to your child’s meal. While it can sometimes cause a rash when it comes into contact with the skin, it’s no reason to avoid cinnamon since the spice is not a common allergen, says Dr. Tsuang. Just call your pediatrician if any skin reaction crops up.

When and How to Introduce Cinnamon

The biggest thing to keep in mind when introducing cinnamon stirred into foods like baby oatmeal or stewed pears is whether your child is developmentally ready for solids in the first place. “If you introduce cinnamon beforehand, they may gag or push the food back out of their mouth,” says Dr. Tsuang.

Children should be introduced to solid foods—while continuing to get the majority of their nutrition from breast milk or infant formula—around 6 months of age. Most babies achieve certain milestones at 6 months old, like sitting up (with or without support), controlling their head and neck, opening their mouth if food is presented, swallowing food, attempting to grab objects, and more, which are markers of their readiness to try solid foods.

When your baby meets the milestones above, you’ll want to introduce a few different foods individually before bringing cinnamon to the table. Once they try say, softened apples on its own on a few occasions, it’s time to add a sprinkle of cinnamon and see how they like it. Cinnamon goes well with many fruit and squash purees, yogurt, and apple sauce.

If your baby doesn’t seem to appreciate the addition of cinnamon, don’t force it—and don’t give up. Research suggests that some babies need eight to 15 exposures to a food before they accept it.

What Amount of Cinnamon Should I Give My Baby? 

Because experts are cautious about testing on children, there are no studies that have determined the safe upper limit for cinnamon served to babies. As such, Dr. Corkins recommends using just a dash—no need to measure. If you need more direction, consider how much cinnamon you’d use to season your own serving, then scale it back proportionally for a baby-sized portion. 

A Word From Verywell

Babies can absolutely enjoy cinnamon in small amounts after about six months of age, which is when experts recommend introducing solid foods. Spicing up your child’s first foods may help them develop a more accepting palate that makes mealtimes easier. Just be careful to serve individual ingredients to your baby to suss out allergies and intolerances before adding cinnamon to their food. If you have any questions about first foods or your baby’s reaction to them, ask your baby’s pediatrician.

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6 Sources
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