Breastfeeding: Do you need to avoid garlic or spicy foods?

Should I avoid garlic or spicy foods while breastfeeding?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Nah -- most babies are not bothered by their mom's varied (or spicy) diet (and frankly, who wants to eat bland food for months on end?).

Large amounts of garlic will alter the smell and taste of breast milk, especially in the first two hours after eating; expressed milk may have a pungent aroma, too, but researchers have found that babies actually prefer the garlic flavor!

Babies are already exposed to different flavors and tastes in utero (and the sense of taste is functional), so this taste may be quite familiar.  Remember, moms from all over the world eat a variety of foods, some incendiary, some rather plain and their babies do just fine.

If you do suspect that your baby is bothered by a food you eat, remove it from your diet for a week or so. Then eat a small quantity and observe his reaction. If he seems fine, try the same food in a more generous serving several days later. Sometimes a baby can tolerate small amounts of a certain food, but may appear sensitive to large quantities. Or he may be fine if you eat the offending food only one time a week, but will show signs of sensitivity if consumed frequently.

Don't worry about the smell or taste of your milk -- varied flavors in your breast milk now may mean your tot will be more accepting of different tastes when solid foods are introduced.

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