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Why spiced-up breast milk is good for your baby’s food acceptance

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Why spiced-up breast milk is good for your baby’s food acceptance

PERRI KLASS

The New York Times News Service
When I had my children, I felt that there was a tendency by experts, including those in my own pediatric profession, to push certain principles that took all the fun out of life. This played out for me, in particular, after I gave birth to my first child, and was told as part of my breast-feeding “support” that I should avoid all spicy foods, because they would upset the baby. Like any good Cambridge, Mass., mother, I turned this into an argument about multiculturalism (“What about the mothers in Sichuan?”), but what I really thought was that it harked back to some old ideas about spices heating up the blood, and generally making life too interesting for the nursing mother.
Why are women told to avoid strong flavours when breast-feeding?
Twenty-five years ago, researchers asked a group of nursing mothers to load up on garlic. In the study, Maternal Diet Alters the Sensory Qualities of Human Milk and the Nursling’s Behavior, which ran in 1991 in the journal Pediatrics, nursing mothers who ate garlic produced breast milk with a stronger smell, as evaluated by researchers who didn’t know which sample was which. What was most interesting was how the milk tasted to the babies, those poetically named “nurslings.” When the garlic effect was there, the babies stayed longer on the breast and nursed more vigorously.