Having Spicy Food While Breastfeeding

Spicy Food Breastfeeding

Even after your baby is born, you may keep a special, physical link via breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is great for bonding, as well as providing ideal nutrition for your little one. But breastfeeding can sometimes be a source of worry for moms who don’t know what they should cut from their diet.

Is Spicy Food Safe to Eat While Breastfeeding?

Foodie parents may feel passionate about their favorite spicy dish. Hesitant about ordering the extra-spicy Pad Kra Prao or tossing back a plate of jalapeno poppers at your favorite dive bar? Don’t be. There’s nothing inherently dangerous about eating spicy food while you’re breastfeeding.

In fact, a little heat can be a good thing. Traces of flavor from the foods in your diet make their way into your breast milk. (To be clear, the key word is “trace”: Your baby isn’t going to get anywhere near the eye-watering level of spice you taste from the wasabi on your sushi.) Eating what you like, in the amounts you like, can give your baby a gentle introduction to the variety of dishes you enjoy, just by breastfeeding.

Why Do I See Advice to Cut Out Spicy Food?

It might surprise you to hear you don’t need to leave spicy food off your plate while you’re nursing. After all, the Internet is full of articles advising moms to watch their diet closely while breastfeeding.

The only reason to revisit your spice intake is if your baby is showing signs of a food sensitivity. Most babies spend some time being fussy or crying every day, and crying typically hits its peak around the 4-6 week mark. Fussiness isn’t an automatic signal that anything’s wrong. Excessive fussiness, colicky symptoms, lots of spitting up, a rash, or congestion can be signs that your baby is sensitive to something you’re eating.

How Can I Test If Spicy Food Affects My Baby?

If you’re noticing signs that your baby is reacting to something in your milk, it can take a little while to pick out the problem food. Your body needs time to digest your food, release nutrients into your bloodstream, and produce new milk. That means if your baby spits up within 30 minutes of you eating hot sauce, the Tabasco probably isn’t to blame.

Try keeping a food diary for a few days. The amount of time it takes for food to get into your milk can vary, but look for patterns. Do symptoms typically pop up about 6 hours after you eat something spicy? Try cutting that food out for a few days and see what happens. If the reaction comes back when you reintroduce the food, that could be enough evidence to find a new favorite for a little while. You can try again in a couple months, when your baby’s digestive system has had more time to develop.

Can I Feed My Baby Spicy Food?

While it’s generally no big deal to eat spicy food yourself while breastfeeding, you should still plan to introduce plain solids when your baby’s ready for table food. Just because your baby enjoys the garlicky flavor in your milk, that doesn’t mean she’s ready to chow down on the real deal.

Strong spices may be tough for your baby to stomach at first. Strongly flavored sauces often have a lot of salt, too. Your baby’s system isn’t prepared to process lots of sodium yet, so it’s best to play it safe. As your baby gets more comfortable with first-food favorites, you can begin to experiment. A teeny pinch of cinnamon in unsweetened applesauce or a little bit of basil on a juicy tomato slice can be a way to introduce stronger flavors in baby doses.

Jessica Sillers
Jessica Sillers is a parenting and finance writer whose work has been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn, Headspace, and more. As a new mom herself, she’s passionate about helping other parents find the community and support they need. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading, and hiking.

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