Pregnant women must follow a healthy diet to provide essential vitamins and nutrients to their babies and prevent pregnancy complications. After birth, a healthy diet is still important, especially if you decide to breastfeed your baby. Many women may wonder whether that means staying away from spicy foods while they are breastfeeding. According to BabyCenter, a diet full of taste and flavor may actually benefit your baby later in life.
Spicy Foods and Breast Milk
When you eat food, spicy or otherwise, it may change the taste and aroma of your breast milk. Spicy and flavorful foods in your diet may actually help your baby to become more accepting of tastes and smells, well before they try solid foods. Consider mothers from China, Mexico, Thailand and India who consume spices and peppers that are traditionally found in their cuisine. Many of these women continue to eat spicy foods during their pregnancy as well as after birth with little to no detriment to their children.
Consumption of garlic while you are lactating may boost your baby's appetite, according to the book, Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, by Jan Riordan and Karen Wambach. Their research reports that when mother's milk tastes like garlic, babies feed longer and eat more.
If you ate something spicy and your baby is fussy, crying or appears to be uncomfortable after breastfeeding, it may be a result of too much spice in your breast milk. Refrain from eating your favorite spicy foods for a week or so, then slowly reintroduce it into your diet. Breastfeed your baby to see how he reacts. If there is little to no reaction, eat a little bit more the next time you eat that meal. Some babies may fuss if the meal or spice is eaten in large quantities or very frequently.
If your baby continues to fuss or react negatively, your baby may have a food allergy. Although allergies to spice or spicy foods are rare, he may be allergic to another component of your meal, such as dairy or wheat products. Keep a food diary for a week, jotting down what you ate and how your baby reacted. Schedule an appointment with your child's doctor, who can help determine whether your child has an allergy or other medical ailment.
- iVilliage; Breastfeeding: Do You Need to Avoid Garlic or Spicy Foods?; Jan 1999
- Breastfeeding and Human Lactation; Jan Riordan, Karen Wambach
- BabyCenter: Is it Okay to Eat Spicy Food While Nursing?
- KidsHealth: Breastfeeding FAQs: Your Eating and Drinking Habits
- Pediatrics, Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Prenatal and Postnatal Flavor Learning by Human Infants