Did you know that the breastmilk taste depends on mom’s diet? I had no idea until a read research about. It has some interesting implications on why babies may be picky with their food. :-)
Is your baby hesitant to starting with solid foods? Well, now researchers have found another possible reason for this; the taste of the breastmilk as compared to the flavor of the solid foods, due to what new moms tend to eat.
Compare your own diet while breastfeeding with what you are serving your baby.
Let me guess…
While breastfeeding you are hungry, particularly if you are breastfeeding exclusively. Admit that one or two candy bars go down once in a while… Some coffee maybe (being so exhausted). Not to mention all those delicious foods that you can finally eat again after all the restrictions during pregnancy.
Now compare this with what you feed your baby.
Mashed vegetables without any spices… Yummy! (NOT)
Now, researchers have found that the flavor of your milk is actually directly affected by what you eat, so the breastmilk is more likely to be “seasoned” with coffee and candy bars than with mashed veggies, I would assume. No wonder your baby rejects veggie purees!
The Link Between The Taste of Breastmilk and Mom’s Diet
A team of Danish researchers recently found that what a breastfeeding mother eats has quite an instant effect on the taste of the breastmilk. It was also found that this taste actually affects her baby’s food preferences.
Since the nursing baby’s first contact with different flavors will be through variation of mom’s milk, the research team believes that this may very well explain why some babies prefer or refuses to eat certain foods.
The study was carried out with a group of 18 breastfeeding moms, who were asked to consume certain capsules with various flavorings, such as caraway seed, licorice, menthol, and banana.
After that, samples of their milk were analyzed after 2, 4, 6 an, 8 hours. This showed that the flavor did reach the milk almost immediately after the woman consumed it. The different flavors then stayed in the milk for various amounts of time. For example, both caraway seed and licorice flavor stayed for over two hours, while banana was gone after one hour. All different flavor compounds were gone after 8 hours.
So What Can A Breastfeeding Mom Do?
I find this very interesting. It would be great with an additional study of to what extent babies that are picky actually have a diet that is more different from that of their mothers’ than babies who enjoy solid foods right from the start.
My own two youngest kids were very different in their acceptance of solid foods. Our daughter loved everything we served. Our youngest son hated everything but bananas. Thinking back, I did eat a lot of bananas while breastfeeding him, simply because our daughter (18 months older) loved banana when she was between 1 and 2 years old. Being more busy with three kids of which two close in age, I probably ate more sweets, less healthy food and drank more coffee when breastfeeding our youngest.
Maybe that is one of the reasons why he was so reluctant to the veggie purees.
So here we have (yet another) reason to eat healthy while breastfeeding. Not only will it give you your pre-pregnancy body back much faster, improve the quality of your breast milk, and give you an energy boost. It might also make the transition to solid foods easier for your little one.
When will there be a study showing the benefits of sweets and caffeine while breastfeeding…? ;-)
By the way, I have created a practical cheat sheet for what is safe and healthy to eat when breastfeeding.
Reference: Helene Hausner, Wender L.P. Bredie, Christian MÃ¸lgaard, Mikael Agerlin Petersen and Per Moller
Physiology And Behavior doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.05.007 Differential transfer of dietary flavour compounds into human breast milk