Breastmilk gourmets - Your baby can taste what you eat

Filed under: Just For Moms, Babies, Nutrition: Health, Mealtime

Lucy Lawless, former star of Xena, Warrior Princess, breastfeeding in a poster to promote world breastfeeding week.A recent study showed that what a mother eats influences the taste of her breastmilk, as much as eight hours afterwards. Licorice and caraway seeds showed up in the breastmilk most strongly after two hours while mint was most noticeable six hours after being eaten. Bananas never actually seemed to show up at all in the breastmilk.

Scientists see this as an important clue in figuring out why some people like some foods and others don't. It may be important for mothers to eat a wide variety of foods in order to avoid having a picky eater once the child moves to solid food. "Parents should be mindful so they can expose the baby to a variety of foods," says Nicolas Stettler, assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "You know how it's always a struggle with young children to eat new food."

Personally, I see this as vindication of my own position -- that mothers should eat the foods they normally eat even while breastfeeding. In fact, it may be important. "That's why we have always thought that babies have preferred cuisines of their culture," notes Miriam Labbok, director of the Center for Infant and Young Child Feeding and Care at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I've always argued that women in countries where spicy foods are the norm don't suddenly stop eating what they've always eaten.

Furthermore, if the taste of breastmilk affects a child's tastes in food later, it seems to me that it's very important to eat a wide variety of foods while breastfeeding if you want to have any hope of eating different foods once the kid starts eating solids. So go ahead and go for Indian curry and have that burrito! It's for the kid's sake!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.