Ginger (also known as ginger root) is one of the most popular spices in the world for its unique flavor and health benefits. It has been utilized for over 5,000 years for both its warm flavor in cooking and baking and for its potent health properties. There are 400 compounds in ginger, including polyphenols—gingerols, quercetin, zingerone, and terpenes that offer a range of benefits.
Research shows that ginger and its metabolites accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract, which is why so many of its positive effects influence the gastrointestinal system.
But do these benefits of ginger extend to babies as well? Is ginger safe for babies? We'll explore these questions and more in this blog post.
The ginger plant grows as a flowering plant known as zingiber officinale and is native to Southeast Asia. Ginger is the rhizome (the underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It’s referred to as both ginger root and ginger.
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Ginger's oil, gingerol, is the main bioactive compound in ginger and is responsible for many of ginger’s medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has been shown to help reduce oxidative stress, manage inflammation, support immunity, and ease digestive issues.
Can Ginger Be Healthy for Babies?
Ginger's potent health properties for adults extend to babies as well. Below are some of the key benefits of ginger for babies:
1. Ginger can reduce gas
Ginger can be an effective remedy for relieving intestinal gas. This is especially helpful for babies as they first start solid foods and may experience some gas from trying new and different foods.
2. Ginger may boost immunity
Ginger has potent antiviral and antibacterial properties which can help ward off sickness. In addition, preliminary research suggests that ginger may also enhance the body's immune response.
3. Ginger can relieve nausea and motion sickness
Research has shown that ginger can ease nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness in kids. It's a pretty great thing to have in your home remedies toolkit!
4. Ginger can alleviate upset stomach and aid digestion
Ginger can also help soothe other stomach issues and may support smooth digestion by acting as a motility agent - something that helps to keep the digestive system moving.
5. Ginger can work as an expectorant
Ginger can help alleviate other symptoms of the common cold or other respiratory illnesses by helping to clear mucus from the airways. In this way, it can also be effective at relieving cough.
Is It Safe to Give Ginger to Babies?
So we know there are tons of health benefits of ginger, but can babies eat ginger? Studies evaluating ginger consumption in babies are limited due to ethical concerns (not many parents want to test science on their babies!) but in general, ginger is considered quite safe for babies.
While some sources report that ginger may be too harsh for a baby's belly, this type of reaction is only a concern when ginger is consumed in very large quantities - not those typically found in food and your favorite recipes. Really, with all of the potent health benefits of ginger, using it to flavor your baby’s food is actually helpful for the baby's belly and health-promoting in many other ways!
Other concerns around ginger are related to drug interactions, so if your child is taking medication, check with your healthcare provider.
Can Ginger Be an Allergen?
Ginger is not a common allergen. Of course, it's always wise to start with a very small amount of any new food when introducing it to a baby’s diet so you can gauge any negative effects or allergy symptoms.
As with any new food, keep an eye out for symptoms of an allergic reaction (skin rashes, vomiting, etc.) when you introduce ginger to your baby for the first time. And as always, check with your healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
Risks of Ginger: When to Consult A Doctor?
Since ginger allergies are quite rare, the risks of eating ginger in amounts included in food and drink are very low for most babies. The only other known risks to ginger in babies are choking hazards (again, quite low unless your baby sneaks a whole knob of fresh ginger or a fistful of pickled ginger!) or an interaction with medication.
As always, check with your healthcare provider if your baby is on any medications or has any existing health conditions.
How Do You Prepare Ginger for Baby-led Weaning and Maximizing the Flavor Window?
Ginger can be an excellent taste to add to a baby’s flavor repertoire once they start eating some solid foods. So how do you start giving ginger to your baby? Simply treat it like the introduction of any other new food!
Try adding a small amount as a seasoning to an otherwise familiar food (like roasted carrots or sweet potatoes.
Ginger is a great way to expand a baby's “flavor window” - the period of time from about 6 to 18 months during which your little one’s tastes are most malleable. Yes, that means this is the time to introduce babies to as many different flavors as possible in order to help influence their taste preferences for years to come.
When buying fresh ginger, look for roots that are firm, not soft, and with skin that is taut and does not appear dry or wrinkly. Fresh ginger keeps at room temperature for about 5 days, in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for 6 months.
Ginger Baby Food Ideas
Ginger extracts can be used fresh, dried, powdered, pickled, or as an oil or juice. It can be given to babies in the same way it can be given to adults. Here are a few baby-friendly ways to serve ginger.
Ginger makes a delicious seasoning for many different foods. Try dried or grated ginger sprinkled on roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, or butternut squash if your baby is eating finger foods. If you're following a baby-led weaning approach, try ginger in one of your family meals, like a beef and broccoli stir fry made with coconut aminos. And if the baby is eating purees, try adding ginger to a blend of meats and veggies. Or serve baby our Grass Fed Beef and Ginger pouch for the ultimate trifecta of flavor, nutrition, and convenience.
Ginger milk or golden milk
For a warm and comforting drink once the baby is 12 months old, try mixing fresh ginger, dry ginger powder, or a very small quantity of ginger juice into your milk of choice (full fat coconut milk is a great option, or try it our A2 Whole Milk Toddler Formula if your baby is a bit older). Or make a baby golden milk by mixing small amounts of turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon into milk.
Another delicious drink for babies once other liquids are introduced is ginger tea. You can make ginger tea by simply mixing fresh raw ginger with boiling water and cooling it to the baby's preferred temperature. You may add a few drops (half a teaspoon) of lemon juice or honey for additional flavors.
Not up for cooking? Serenity Kids has two great ready-to-eat options with ginger that babies love - Grass-Fed Beef & Ginger with Organic Pea, Bell Pepper, and Broccoli and Turmeric Chicken Bone Broth.
Want something to sip alongside your baby or toddler? Try this super fun Sparkling Cranberry Kombucha Mocktail that incorporates fresh ginger slices.
The Bottom Line
Ginger is full of potent health benefits for people of all ages, including babies! Try to add ginger to baby's food, either finger food or puree, and reap the benefits of ginger's nutritional value and medicinal properties.
In addition, ginger's warm and slightly spicy flavor is a great way to both season baby's food and introduce the unique ginger flavor into the important flavor window of a baby's palate development.
Want to start now? Try our Grass-Fed Beef & Ginger with Organic Pea, Bell Pepper, and Broccoli or Turmeric Chicken Bone Broth!