Cumin may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Do not offer cumin oil to babies and young children, as its use has been associated with gastric upset and its safety has not been sufficiently studied.
Cumin is the dried seed of an herb that originated in the fertile lands around the Mediterranean Sea, where it has been used in food and medicine since ancient times. Colonization, migration, and trade introduced cumin far beyond its native region, and today the spice is a staple seasoning around the globe. Also widely known as jeera, cumin lends earthy, warm flavor to myriad foods, included breads, cheeses, masalas, and spice blends like berbere, duqqa, garam masala, panch phoron, sazon, more.
Wei Wei, 7 months, eats cumin on flounder.
Yes, cumin is is generally recognized as safe in amounts typically used in cooking. Do not offer cumin oil to babies and young children, as its use has been associated with gastric upset and its safety has not been sufficiently studied.
Yes. Cumin offers small amounts of various vitamins, minerals like iron and calcium, and fiber. Research suggests that cumin also offers anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties and may help support digestive processes.
Do not offer cumin oil to babies and young children, as its use has been associated with gastric upset and its safety has not been sufficiently studied.
No. Neither cumin seeds nor ground cumin pose a high risk of choking, although whole cumin seeds on their own could theoretically pose a risk of aspiration (when something enters the airway, but does not block it). To minimize the risk, do not serve loose, dry cumin seeds on their own; instead, mix cumin seeds into bread, sauce, stew, or another dish that will soften the seeds, which makes them easier for babies to manage in the mouth. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
No. Allergies to cumin are rare, but have been reported. Note that certain spice blends that feature cumin may contain common food allergens, so make sure to read labels thoroughly.
Cumin is in the same botanical family as dill, celery, coriander, and parsley. Individuals with a known allergy to one or more of these foods may also be sensitive to cumin.
Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome, particularly those who are allergic to birch pollen, may be sensitive to cumin. Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.
Note that powdered spices can cause reactions similar to allergic symptoms. For example, inhaling a puff of powdered cumin can irritate the nasal passageways and trigger sneezing and coughing, and this response may not be an allergic reaction.
Food with spices like cumin may cause a harmless rash around the mouth while baby eats or may cause or worsen diaper rash. Applying a thin layer of barrier ointment (such as pure petroleum jelly or a plant-based oil/wax balm) to baby’s face and bottom can help prevent contact rashes.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
No. Cumin is not generally considered to be a food that directly helps with pooping since it is consumed in small amounts. However, spices like cumin play a role in supporting baby’s rapidly developing gut microbiome (the bacteria and microorganisms in baby’s intestines), which can help support healthy digestion overall. Cumin’s tiny seeds may be visible in baby’s poop—this is totally normal, as many seeds are naturally resistant to digestion in most individuals. Remember that pooping patterns can vary significantly from baby to baby. If you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function, learn more about when to worry about baby’s poop and, as always, talk to your pediatric healthcare provider.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Sprinkle small amounts of ground cumin on age-appropriate foods like cooked vegetables, dal, or yogurt. Alternatively, use cumin (ground or whole seeds) to season sauces, stews, and other dishes to share with baby.
Cook with cumin (ground or whole seeds) as desired in the child’s meals. Use cumin in combination with other ingredients to create flavorful sauces, marinades, spice rubs, and much more.
Not sure what food to try next? Have a look at our guide, 50 Fantastic First Foods for Babies.
6 c (1 ½ liter)
Lentils - Substitute red lentils or any other lentil that falls apart while cooking.
Spices - Swap them for a spice blend containing cumin (like garam masala) or use any combination of ground spices that you like. Babies can enjoy big flavors, too.
This recipe contains a common allergen: coconut (milk, oil). While coconut allergy is rare, it is classified as a tree nut by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.
Peel and finely chop the carrot.
Slice the tomato in half and finely chop one half. Store the other half for another use.
Warm the oil in a pot set on medium heat. When it shimmers, add the carrot and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the lentils and spices. Cook until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour in 1 ½ c (360 ml) water or stock. Cover and bring to a boil.
Uncover the pot, reduce the heat, and stir. Partially cover the pot and gently simmer until the lentils fall apart and the carrot is soft, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk, then mash the dal to your liking. A little texture is okay.
Set aside some dal for the child, and some for yourself. Season your portion with salt to taste. Sprinkle with finely chopped cilantro before serving.
Serve the Dal
Offer the dal and let baby self-feed.
If help is needed, hold a pre-loaded spoon in the air and let the child grab it from you.
Eat dal alongside the child to model how it’s done.
To Store: Dal keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months. When freezing, separate dal into small containers. This way, the dal defrosts faster at future mealtimes. Defrost dal in the refrigerator the day before you plan to offer it.
Serve the dal with a vitamin C-rich vegetable like spinach. Vitamin C helps the body absorb plant-based iron in the dal.
Dal makes a great base for poached eggs, roasted mushrooms, or vegetables that are easy to dip, like cauliflower or okra.
Mix leftover dal into the batter for patties, paratha, or other pancakes.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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