Turmeric may be introduced into meals as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Turmeric is part of the same family as ginger, the flowering plant that originated in the tropics of Southeast Asia. Also known as curcuma, haldi, kamin, kunyit, nanwin, and nghệ, turmeric is cultivated for its rhizomes—knobby root-like stems that grow below ground. Today, most turmeric root comes from India, where it is used as dye, medicine, and of course, seasoning for food. Its golden yellow hue and earthy taste add to savory foods like biryanis, masala, and dosa, as well as celebratory ball-shaped sweets called laddu and rasgulla. Like other spices that originated in Asia, turmeric is now used globally in savory and sweet foods, as well as in spice blends like advieh, hawaij, jerk, ras el hanout, and vadouvan.
Wei Wei, 7 months, eats turmeric on halibut.
Juliet Rose, 9 months, eats rice and poblano pepper flavored with turmeric.
Hawii, 15 months, tastes pickled turmeric and doesn't like it.
Yes. While turmeric is not usually eaten in large quantities, its health benefits lie in its small amounts of micronutrients and powerful phytonutrient content. Turmeric also contains iron, manganese, and traces of many other minerals, as well as fiber, and studies show that adding small amounts of turmeric regularly to one’s diet is beneficial for overall health.
Turmeric is rich in plant chemicals, including curcumin, a naturally-occurring phytochemical believed to alleviate inflammation, provide antioxidants, regulate blood sugar, improve cell functionality, support digestive and brain health, and more. Curcumin is better absorbed with black pepper’s help, so try pairing the two spices together for rich flavor and added health benefits. Cooking turmeric with a fat like butter or oil also makes its health benefits more bioavailable.
When purchasing ground turmeric, look for brands that conduct heavy metal testing, as spices like turmeric are sometimes contaminated with lead and other heavy metals. You can usually find this information on the product packaging or on the brand’s website.
★ Tip: When shopping for fresh turmeric, look for roots with firm texture and taut skin with no wrinkles. Fresh turmeric keeps at room temperature for 5 days, in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for 6 months. Dehydrated turmeric slices can be stored at room temperature in the pantry for a few months.
After the first birthday, if served lukewarm and with no or minimal added sweeteners. Do not give tea or beverages besides breast/human milk or formula to babies under 12 months of age.
Also known as golden milk, haldi doodh is a traditional turmeric drink in India that also serves as a remedy for many ailments. The drink is made with cow’s milk and often includes other spices like black pepper, cardamom, and ginger and a sweetener of choice. For babies under 12 months of age, breast/human milk or formula should be the primary drink and haldi doodh should not be offered, aside from a small sip on occasion. For children older than 12 months of age, cow’s milk may be offered as a drink, and golden milk is one way to serve it to toddlers. When making haldi doodh for toddlers, refrain from adding sweeteners and season with spice to the toddler’s individual comfort level.
Traditionally, turmeric has been used to support respiratory, immune, muscle, joint, skin, heart, and digestive health (such as relieving gas) due to its numerous beneficial properties. Turmeric has also been used for skin conditions, as a complement in cancer treatments, and many other health applications. That said, data regarding the safety of turmeric supplements for babies is insufficient, so consult with your pediatric healthcare provider before offering these as a remedy for baby.
If a child is feeling sick and you would like to offer turmeric, use a small amount of turmeric in fresh, powdered, or paste form in an age-appropriate meal.
No. When used in culinary applications (grated, sliced, powdered, etc.), turmeric is not a common choking hazard, though in theory a baby or toddler could choke on a slice or knob of turmeric if they were able to get their hands on one. To minimize the risk, grate turmeric before offering to baby. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meal prep and mealtimes. For more information on choking, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
No. Turmeric is not a common allergen, although contact rashes when touching turmeric have been reported. Individuals with very sensitive skin or a history of developing contact rashes may want to wear gloves when preparing turmeric. If a rash does develop, wash the affected area with soap and water.
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.
Yes. Turmeric offers small amounts of fiber and other components that, in combination with a balanced and varied diet, can help support digestive health and regular pooping. That said, in excessively large amounts, turmeric can be associated with digestive upset. Note that pooping patterns can vary significantly from child to child. Be sure to talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function.
Use turmeric to season salads, sauces, soups, and stews. It’s also an excellent spice to add bright color and earthy flavor to casseroles, dals, and grain-based dishes like khichdi, a spiced lentil and rice porridge from South Asia. Turmeric is often used in spice blends, and you can create your own by mixing it with cinnamon, ginger, and chili powder to flavor braised meat, stewed lentils, stuffing for empanadas and patties, and roasted vegetables. As a general rule, use powdered turmeric in dry foods like baked goods, spice blends, and teas, and fresh turmeric in wet foods like juices, marinades, pastes, pickles, salads, sauces, and stews. That said, some rules are meant to be broken, so experiment with the kind you have on hand.
★Tip: When substituting fresh turmeric for powdered, use this formula: 1-inch knob equals 1 tablespoon (6 grams) fresh grated turmeric equals 1 teaspoon (1 gram) powdered turmeric.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Use a pinch or two of grated or powdered turmeric to season vegetables, or stir it into soft, scoopable foods like congee (rice porridge), dal (stewed lentils), or rice flavored with ghee. Stir turmeric into large, soft kimchi rice balls, bean patties, or meatballs that are easy for baby to pick up. Or make a garlicky turmeric paste to season tempeh, meat, or fish. Just keep in mind that turmeric easily stains little hands, textiles, and counters – almost anything it touches.
Continue seasoning the child’s food with fresh or powdered turmeric as you like. This is also a good age for introducing baked goods with turmeric in them, such as pancakes, muffins, and breads. Turmeric teas, served warm but not hot, and haldi doodh (golden milk) are also fine at this age, and make for great practice with an open cup.
Continue serving turmeric in the child’s food and dishes that you can enjoy alongside them. At this age, toddlers may also enjoy smoothies with turmeric added for nutrition and warm flavor. Turmeric teas are also fine at this age.
Learn which nutrients are most important for vegetarian and vegan babies in our guide, Best & Worst Plant-Based Foods for Babies.
¾ cup (180 milliliters)
This recipe contains a common allergen: finned fish or soy (tempeh). Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.
Peel and chop the shallot and garlic.
Wash, dry, peel, and grate the turmeric root. You need 1 teaspoon (2 grams) of grated turmeric for this recipe.
Mash the turmeric to create a paste. You can use a high-powered food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle to speed up this task, but if you don’t have one, use the flat side of a knife. Simply lay the flat side of your knife on the finely chopped turmeric, then pound it a few times with your fist.
Blend the shallots, garlic, and turmeric paste with the oil and water until a paste is formed. The mixture should be spreadable, but a little thick. If it is clumpy, add another splash of water and continue to blend until the desired consistency is reached.
The paste can be used raw or cooked. If you’d like to cook it (which mellows the pungent flavor), add the mixture to a small skillet set on medium heat, then cook the paste for 2 minutes.
Steam the tempeh until soft, then cut the tempeh into age-appropriate sizes and scoop it into baby’s bowl.
Season baby’s tempeh with a small spoonful of paste. A little goes a long way: for 3 ounces (85 grams) of steamed tempeh, start with 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of paste, then taste. If you’d like more flavor for baby, add more paste.
For adults and older children, season their food with salt to taste.
Serve the steamed tempeh with the paste and let the child try to self-feed. If baby struggles with picking up the food, pass a piece of tempeh in the air for baby to grab.
To Store: Garlicky Turmeric Paste keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 days.
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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