If there is one thing we can be certain of, it is that breastmilk is the best, if not the perfect, food for newborns in their first six months of life. Time after time, healthcare experts have recommended new mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies largely based on the fact that a mother’s breastmilk contains all of the nutrients an infant requires, in the proper amounts, to grow and develop well.
But that’s not all. Another significant reason why exclusive breastfeeding is recommended is that it has been linked to lowering an infant’s risk of developing several infections and illnesses. Breast milk is able to transfer antibodies to infants to support the immune system These include:
- Common cold
- Middle ear infections
- Respiratory tract infections
- Gut infections
- Allergy-related diseases
- Bowel diseases
- Childhood leukaemia
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Other benefits of exclusive breastfeeding include promoting a baby’s brain development, sleep cycle, and even cognitive development. Interestingly, in some studies, children who were breastfed during their infancy were found to have higher IQ scores than those who were not.
So, it is safe to say that there is no end to the benefits or impact that exclusive breastfeeding has on an infant.
Breastfeeding and a Baby’s Palate
While the majority of the benefits and effects of breastfeeding are well-known, there is one lesser-known effect that breastfeeding has on an infant – arguably one of the most significant.
As you may have guessed from the title, breastfeeding, or more specifically your breastmilk, has an effect on your baby’s palate – your baby’s ability to taste and judge food and drinks. So, how exactly does your breastmilk affect your baby’s palate? Well, research has found that there is potential for a mother’s dietary intake to influence the flavours and smell of your breastmilk. So, the wider variety of foods a mother eats, the wider the exposure of different flavours and smells is to your little one.
Setting up Your Baby’s Palate
Parents, particularly mothers, play the role of food and health role models, promoters, and even educators in the early stages of their children’s lives.
But why mothers in particular? This is because human food preferences are formed as early as during pregnancy, which makes mothers the first and primary determiners and shapers of a growing baby’s food preferences and eating habits. Nowadays, more and more research talks about the importance of the first 1000 days of your baby’s life which begins right at conception until the day your child turns 2 years old. How you eat and the lifestyle you practice influences your baby’s epigenetics and risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart diseases later in adulthood.
So if you want your child to grow up with healthier eating habits, This is exactly the reason why, when it comes to setting up your little one’s palate for the best, what you eat while breastfeeding matters.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Now, if we’re guessing right, you’re probably wondering where to go from here. Do you need to make changes to your existing breastfeeding diet? Are there any special dietary habits that must be followed? Should you be avoiding certain foods?
Well, mommies – no, no, and NO!
For starters, there are no special tips or tricks when it comes to setting up your baby’s palate for the best; however, there are a few eating practices that you can be mindful of. But, before we delve into them, it’s important to remember that if you’re exclusively breastfeeding your little one, you should not skip meals or undereat. You may still be able to breastfeed your child despite skipping meals or eating very little, but this will put you at higher risk of malnutrition and falling sick.
FUN FACT: The recommended daily calorie intake for breastfeeding mothers is 500 calories higher than that of an average adult woman.
Dietary Tips for Breastfeeding Mommies
1. Do Not Avoid Allergenic Foods Unnecessarily
Despite the fact that there are innumerable foods and allergens out there that can cause an allergic reaction, only 8 types of food are recognised by experts worldwide as major allergens. The “Big-8,” as they are commonly referred to, consists of the following:
- Crustacean Shellfish
- Tree Nuts
Most people tend to avoid these 8 major allergens, mostly out of fear of developing an allergic reaction, and breastfeeding mothers are no different, with the exception that they also fear that their babies will develop an allergic reaction.
What most mothers aren’t aware of, however, is that avoiding allergenic foods unnecessarily, unless advised by your healthcare provider, can actually have the opposite effect – unnecessarily avoiding allergens can result in higher risk of allergies. In fact, according to experts, increasing your baby’s exposure to allergens during the first year of life can reduce his or her chances of developing allergies later in life.
Thus, mommies, it’s best not to avoid allergenic foods unnecessarily.
2. Eat a Large Variety of Foods
While babies are born with a preference for sweet foods, other tastes, such as salty, bitter, and sour, must be learned, and the best way to ensure that your baby acquires all of these tastes early on is by exposing him or her to as many new flavours as possible.
Additionally, exposing your baby to a wide range of flavours can also be beneficial in the long run. According to research, children who were exposed to a variety of foods and flavours from a young age reported fewer feeding problems and a greater willingness to eat a variety of foods as they grew older, both of which are healthy eating practices.
Thus, it is a good idea to introduce your baby to a variety of flavours from the get-go. You can accomplish this by incorporating a wide range of foods into your lactogenic diet, as certain flavours from a breastfeeding mother’s diet are said to be able to permeate through her breastmilk – albeit selectively and in small amounts.
The key to eating a diverse diet is to consume foods from having a mixture of animal and plant-based protein, a different choice of vegetable and fruits every day. From time to time, you can incorporate desserts, and bakes, into your diet. Our pick would definitely be the lactation brownies Singapore made by the best bakers we know – Singapore Lactation Bakes! Not sure where to find those warm, perfectly baked Singapore Lactation Bakes (SLB) brownies we’re talking about? Fret not – they’re right here!