Nurturing life Your reference in perinatal nutrition, from pregnancy to childhood

Can babies taste food as soon as they are breastfed?

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By : Nurturing Life's Nutrition Team | Montreal Diet Dispensary
allaitement goût bébé

Yes. Breastfeeding is a great sensory experience for the baby. Their sense of taste develops well before the introduction of solid food.

Breast milk tastes like what the mother has eaten within 4 to 6 hours before breastfeeding. The smell, color and even the texture of the breast milk may change with the mother’s diet. For example, garlic, vanilla, carrot, cumin and some fruits change the taste of breast milk, and the baby can enjoy that. For the child, breastfeeding is a great sensory experience and contributes positively to the development of taste. While a new taste can surprise, the baby adapts himself and learns to appreciate the diversity of flavors.

The diet of the lactating mother not only influences the baby’s taste, but also their digestion. Indeed, the maternal consumption of spinach or beet, for example, can change the color of the baby’s stool. This is a normal phenomenon. Similarly, the color of urine may also change depending on the diet of the lactating mother. So there is not necessarily cause for concern if the urine or stools have unusual colors or textures: the food eaten by the mother may be involved.

References

  • Barker, E. (1980). Sensory Evaluation of Human Milk (Dissertation). Manitoba, University of Manitoba.
  • Forrestell, C.A., Mennella, J.A. (2007). Early Determinants of Fruit and Vegetable Acceptance. Pediatrics, 120:6: 1247-1254.
  • Guilbault, L. (2008). Formation de base en allaitement maternel. http://publications.msss.gouv.qc.ca/acrobat/f/documentation/2008/formation_allaitement.pdf
  • Hausner, H., Bredie, W.L.P., Petersen, M.A., Moller, P. (2008). Differential Transfer of Dietary Flavor Compounds into Human Breast Milk. Physiology & Behavior, 95: 118-124.
  • Mennella, J.A., Beauchamp, G.K. (1991a). Maternal Diet Alters the Sensory Qualities of Human Milk and the Nursling’s Behavior. Pediatrics, 88(4): 737-744.
  • Mennella, J.A., Beauchamp, G.K. (1993). The effects of Repeated Exposure to Garlic-flavored Milk on the Nursling’s Behavior. Pediatric Research, 34: 805-808.
  • Mennella, J.A., Jagnow, C.P., Beauchamp, G.K. (2001). Prenatal and Postnatal Flavor Learning by Human Infants. Pediatrics, 107(6): 88-93.
  • Trahan, J., Beauregard, C., Benoît, R., Bienvenue, J., Côté, N., Doré, N., ... Moquin, D. (2000). Allaitement. Manuel de nutrition clinique en ligne. Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec.

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The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.