Can kids eat hot sauce? And better yet, can you get them to love the hot stuff like you do? Read on for the Aardvark’s inside scoop on how to avoid wheeling and dealing with a mini mutineer at the dinner table. Ahoy, maties, and all aboard!

Stop in the Name of (Self) Love

Self-love sometimes means putting the oxygen mask on you first. And one sure path to parental sanity is to avoid raising a picky eater if you can.

Plus, you’re busy. Making one meal for the adults and a completely different one for your tiny tot? It comes with the territory for the first few years. But you may not have to spend their entire childhood creating a full-on multiple-choice family buffet morning, noon, and night.

Culinary Adventure is a Valuable Life Skill, Yo!

There are benefits to your kid when you encourage culinary curiosity. Curious personalities are associated with humor, playfulness, life satisfaction, good relationships, and open-mindedness. So, encouraging them to expand their love of food beyond Dino Nuggets can help set them up for greater happiness and success in life. How cool is that?

Plus, sharing flavors with loved ones is fun! And adventure is the true spice of life. So, while some littles like to turn their noses up at anything but bland (or sugar-spiked) noms, it doesn’t have to be that way. Many cultures around the world teach their kids to eat spicy foods early on, after all. So, what’s their secret?

Raise Your Own Little Heat Seeker

Start Slow and Steady

When introducing your mini-you to spice, it’s crucial to start slowly. Don’t reach for the habanero sauce out of the gate! Begin by adding small amounts of mild spices to familiar foods…a little black pepper, green herbs like basil or oregano, or maybe a complex and slightly sweet flavor like garam masala. This allows for a bit of palate expansion prior to introducing the heat.

But do make sure your sprout is old enough to verbalize what they do and don’t like before you begin. Especially when it comes to heat. Those tastebuds are tender. And so are their feelings. Be a good listener, and you might be surprised what they’re willing to try. Even better, let them know if they hate it, they can spit it out. Because what little kid wouldn’t love that?!

Try a Kiddo Collaboration

Let Junior know the kitchen is a laboratory for a night, and it’s time to experiment. Then, invite them to help. It’s a whole different ballgame when they get to add the dash of hot sauce to the family meal. Of course, coach them carefully and ensure it’s a drop and not the whole bottle. For all your sake.

Grab the Fire Extinguisher

As you gradually turn up the heat, be ready to soothe and smooth with some can’t-miss tricks to cool that little mouth. And your tiny sugar fiend will love it when you do since some great go-to’s to douse the flames include sweets.

Sure, a kid-friendly banana or berries and apples can help. But let’s get real and go for the chocolate! OR even Kool-Aid, which has literally–yes, even scientifically–been proven to be an effective, well…cooling aid. There’s some truth in advertising for ya!

Fun Foods to Try

Basically, start with stuff they love…and nudge it with a little of the hot stuff.

Add a little dollop to:

  • Low-sugar ketchup (and let them dip or dress their favorites: fries, tater tots, hot dogs)
  • Mac and cheese
  • Savory oatmeal topped with yummy, gooey cheese
  • Bagel with a slather of spicy cream cheese
  • Ranch dressing (who knows; you may even get them to dip a vegetable in it!)
  • Or use your imagination (chocolate cake with a zing, anyone?)

And hey, when it’s time to bring on the sauce, why not try the Aardvark? Not only is he gosh-darned cute, if we do say so ourselves. But he’s also chock-full of only good things, starting with tons of veggies–carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and onions, to name a few. Even your child can pronounce our ingredients.

One last pro tip: check out our article on How to Dilute Hot Sauce. It’s a trick that can come in handy for all ages and heat preferences.

Hot Sauce Life Lessons

When it comes down to it, life is just one big experiment. And getting to the best parts often starts with the tiniest steps. So, give that young’un a chance. You might be surprised at just how adventurous they’re willing to be.