Cinnamon is the brownish reddish inner bark of the cinnamon tree. It has been used throughout history as both as a spice and as a medicine. All types of cinnamon belong to the same family of plants, called the Lauraceae family.
Cinnamon is generally regarded as safe to give to your baby in small amounts after they turn 6 months of age. Cinnamon doesn’t commonly cause an allergic reaction in children or adults. Heavy exposure to cinnamon can cause stomach upset, skin or mouth irritation, and possibly problems with bleeding due to decreased blood clotting. But a sprinkle of cinnamon on your baby’s food probably won’t cause a problem.
If your baby appears to have an allergic reaction to foods containing cinnamon, or they appear fussy and agitated after consuming cinnamon, call your doctor right away.
Where Is Cinnamon Found?
Cinnamon is a common spice used in a variety of foods and to flavor other products. Cinnamon is used a wide many different types of foods. It might be found in the following:
- chewing gum
- breakfasts cereals
- baked goods (cookies, muffins, pies, cakes, biscuits, and pastries)
- French toast
- flavored tea and coffee drinks
Many people have cinnamon in their spice cabinet. Additionally, spice mixes, like pumpkin pie spice or garam masala, for example, may contain cinnamon. The only way to tell for sure if a product contains cinnamon is by reading ingredients list on the label.
The Benefits of Cinnamon
Studies have shown that including a small amount of cinnamon (about a half a teaspoon for adults) in your diet can be good for your health. The benefits may include:
- lowering LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides
- controlling blood sugar
- reducing blood pressure
- fighting yeast infections (Candida)
- helping with nausea
- reducing unwanted blood clotting
The Dangers of Cinnamon
Cinnamon allergies are very uncommon. Giving your baby a large amount of cinnamon, however, can cause skin irritation, upset stomach, or rarely, an allergic reaction. Then again, giving your baby too much of anything is usually not a good idea.
Like most foods, there are a small number of people who are allergic to cinnamon. Your baby is more likely to develop allergies if eczema, asthma, hay fever, or food allergies run in the family.
How Will I Know If My Baby Has an Allergy?
If your baby is allergic to cinnamon, their immune system doesn’t recognize the substance as safe and fights against it. The immune system creates antibodies and produces a substance called histamine. The histamine leads to irritation and inflammation throughout the body.
The signs of an allergic reaction to cinnamon can vary greatly from one person to another. A food allergy may affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, or the respiratory or cardiovascular systems. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a food allergy typically start within a minute to a couple hours after eating the problematic food.
A skin reaction caused by an allergy can take several forms. One type of reaction called contact dermatitis causes a rash within minutes of exposing the skin to the allergen. Skin reactions can also occur after ingesting an allergen. Skin symptoms caused by an allergic reaction may include:
- itchy skin
- rash, blisters, or eczema
- tingling or itching in the mouth
A food allergy can also cause an upset stomach or the following symptoms:
- stomach cramping
Other common food allergy symptoms mimic the symptoms of a cold, like:
- wheezing and shortness of breath
- itchy throat and tongue
- runny or blocked nose (nasal congestion)
- red and itchy eyes
In rare cases, an allergic reaction can lead to severe symptoms referred to as anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening medical emergency. Call 911 immediately for emergency medical attention.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include the following:
- swollen lips and throat that make it difficult to breathe
- tightening of the airways which causes cough, wheezing, or shortness of breath
- sudden drop in blood pressure
- loss of consciousness
- rapid heartbeat
What Foods Commonly Cause an Allergic Reaction?
Cinnamon isn’t included in the list of common food allergies experienced by babies and toddlers. A sprinkle of cinnamon on your baby’s oatmeal or in their baby food most likely won’t cause any problems.
Certain foods are more likely to produce an allergic reaction in children. According to Food Allergy Research and Education, these eight foods are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies:
- tree nuts
- fish and shellfish
Don't give your baby any of these foods before they’re 6 months old. When you first start feeding your baby these foods, be sure to pay close attention for signs of an allergic reaction. If you do notice any signs, be sure to contact your doctor.
What Should I Do If I Think My Baby's Having an Allergic Reaction to Cinnamon?
A doctor may want to perform a skin patch test on your baby to see if cinnamon is really causing the reaction. A doctor will put a small patch containing cinnamon on your baby’s skin for 20 to 30 minutes. If the skin is normal after the patch is removed, your baby is most likely not allergic to the cinnamon. Your doctor may also take a blood sample to test for an allergy to cinnamon.
If the baby is allergic to cinnamon, your doctor will recommend avoiding cinnamon and removing it from the baby’s diet. It’s important to read all food labels, especially for foods that commonly contain spices. Anyone with a food allergy should be careful when purchasing food at a supermarket or restaurant to make sure there are no traces of the allergen in a food or meal. Also be careful with products like toothpaste or lotions to make sure cinnamon isn’t an ingredient.
There are no medications available to prevent or cure allergic reactions to foods and spices. However, you should work with your child’s doctor to manage any allergies your child may have.
If your child is not allergic to cinnamon, you should feel confident that giving your baby small amounts of cinnamon will be safe and enjoyable for your baby.
Recipes to Spice Up Your Baby Food
Adding spices like cinnamon to your baby’s foods is a wonderful way to offer interesting flavor without having to add sugar or salt. You should wait until your baby is at least 6 months old before you start trying out recipes and experimenting with spices.
Add cinnamon to the following standard baby foods to help spice up their flavor:
- apple sauce
- sweet potatoes
Or, you can try making your own baby food and incorporate cinnamon for more flavor. Try this roasted pumpkin and sweet potato baby food recipe for a delicious sweet and savory dish. For a fruity baby treat, try this recipe for apricot and banana baby food with cinnamon.