Spicy food is known to be unfriendly to a child’s palate. It creates a stinging sensation in the mouth when eaten. Young children may not like spicy food, that’s why it is usually introduced to older kids, even in Asian families who are famous for having a fiery diet.
Children, curious as they are, will want to taste their parent’s food. They can quickly grab a chili chicken wing from your plate, or taste test the tube of wasabi you keep in the fridge. Here’s what you can do to help your child cool down his taste buds after eating spicy food.
1. Rinse with milk. Water or other sweet drinks seems to be the best solution to relieve a hot tongue. But drinking water or soda only masks the spicy flavor of hot peppers. Capsaicin, a chemical that makes peppers spicy, is fat soluble. Milk and most other dairy products are high in fat, so drinking milk or simply rinsing the mouth with it will help dilute and take away the fiery taste of spicy food.
2. Wash the hands. The stinging effect of spicy food is not limited to the mouth. The eyes are equally sensitive to spicy food, that’s why it is used to ward off criminals – in the form of pepper spray. If you find your child dipping his hands in spicy chili, wash it immediately with soap and water before they come in contact with his eyes. Washing the hands with milk will also help for reasons stated in step 1.
3. ‘Sponge’ it off. Eating spongy food such as bread also helps remove the peppery taste from the mouth. It is a common household commodity and kids will eat it without hesitation. The bread will act as an absorbent and abrasive for any capsaicin left in the mouth. The fats that come from bread ingredients and any additional fat like butter will also help in taking away spicy taste.
4. Put the culprit away. Keep spicy food away from children’s reach to avoid any similar incidents from happening again. If it’s in the refrigerator, put it in the back end, instead of near the door. Try to serve spicy food only when your child is out of sight, so it won’t rouse his interest.
Spicy food may thrill your taste buds but not your child’s. Introducing spicy food to his diet may need to wait until well after the first year, when your child is ready for strong flavored foods.