4 Ways Breastfeeding May Prevent Picky Eating

4 Ways Breastfeeding May Prevent Picky Eating

You already know the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby, but in recent years, researchers have shed light on one more: babies who are breastfed by mothers who eat healthy foods are less likely to be picky eaters and may turn out to be adventurous foodies.

It makes sense. Not only do breastfed babies get all of their nutrients through their moms in those early months, they also get the subtle flavors of the foods they eat. So when it’s time to start solids, they may already have formed their own healthy food preferences.

1. A love of fruits and vegetables

Breastfeeding your baby may help him crave fruits and vegetables. Take a look at a 2007 study out of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, which included 45 babies between 4 and 8-months-old; 20 of whom were breastfed.

Both groups were fed green beans and peaches. The first time they were offered peaches, the breastfed babies ate more peaches and for a longer period of time than the formula-fed infants, which suggests they preferred peaches because their moms ate them.

What’s interesting, however, is that neither group of babies ate more green beans than the author perhaps because both sets of moms ate green beans infrequently, the authors explained.

The key therefore, is that if you’re breastfeeding and you want your kids to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, you also need to eat them.

2. A willingness to try new foods

The foods moms eat during pregnancy and while they’re breastfeeding affect the taste and nutrition of their breast milk, which in turn shapes their babies’ flavor and food preferences, a recent study out of Keen State College found.

“Studies show that toddlers, preschool, and school-aged children who were breastfed as infants are more likely to accept a wider variety of healthy foods and are more accepting of new foods and are less likely to be picky eaters,” Becky Dunn, the co-author of the study stated in this article.

3. Less mealtime battles

According to a 2012 study out of the University of Illinois, babies who were exclusively breasted for the first 6 months were 81 percent less likely to reject food when they became preschoolers, 78 percent less likely to develop a preference for how their food was prepared, and 75 percent less likely to fear trying new foods.

4. A smaller sweet tooth

Breastfeeding infants for longer periods of time is associated with a higher likelihood that kids will eat healthy, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink less sugar-sweetened drinks and more water at age 6 according to a 2014 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

So although your kid will probably love sweets, breastfeeding may be one way to keep those sugar cravings at bay.

What Is Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER)?  Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) is a real condition for some breastfeeding moms, and like postpartum depression they might be suffering in silence.

What Is Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER)?

Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) is a real condition for some breastfeeding moms, and like postpartum depression they might be suffering in silence.

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I breastfeed my daughters, each one for a little more than a year. Although I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding and I’m grateful that I was able to breastfeed for as long as I did, I’ll never pretend it was easy.

I got used to my leaky, engorged breasts, the unflattering nursing bras and breast pads, round the clock feedings and pumping.

Yet there was one thing about breastfeeding that I never quite understood or told another mom about: that moment of intense anxiety and feeling of doom right as my milk letdown. It lasted less than 30 seconds but it was alarming nonetheless.

Since I had dealt with anxiety and panic attacks in the past, I chalked it up to hormones but I always wondered: is this normal? Are other moms going through this too?

Over the years as I conducted interviews for the stories I wrote for Fox News, I’d ask lactation consultants about it but no one knew what I was talking about. I started to think maybe it was just me. Maybe my wacky hormones and biological disposition to anxiety ramped up during breastfeeding too.

A few years went by until I finally mentioned it to Diana West, IBCLC, director of media relations for La Leche League and she said there was actually a name for what I had experienced: Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER.

What is Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER)?

After talking to Diana and conducting some research, I wrote about D-MER for Fox News (you can read the entire story here). Here are the main points:

  • D-MER is a condition that causes breastfeeding moms to have brief episodes of anxiety, irritability, anger, sadness and even suicidal ideations at milk letdown.
  • D-MER is believed to happen because of a dysfunction of dopamine activity.
  • Since research is limited, it’s not clear how many moms actually experience D-MER but experts say it’s likely a small percentage.
  • The symptoms of D-MER usually subside after a few seconds or a few minutes.
  • D-MER is not a psychological problem or postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.
  • Acute stress and caffeine might make symptoms of D-MER worse while some interventions like a chocolate ice cream binge (seriously!) may improve symptoms, according to a 2011 study in the International Breastfeeding Journal.
  • Although it can be challenging to deal with, most moms with D-MER say their condition subsides after 3 or 6 months.

Breastfeeding Moms With D-MER Need Support

Since many lactation consultants, doctors and clinicians don’t know about D-MER, it’s possible some moms are being told what they’re experiencing isn’t real or on the flip side, they’re being incorrectly diagnosed with postpartum depression or anxiety.

Much like the stigma associated with postpartum depression, it’s likely moms are apprehensive to talk about it because they fear they’ll be judged.

With more research, hopefully more doctors, lactation consultants and providers will become aware of D-MER, screen for it and assure moms that it’s completely normal.

Regardless of where you find yourself on the breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding debate, all moms need to give each other the freedom to talk about what they’re experiencing—without fear and without judgment because we’re all walking this journey of motherhood together.

For more information about D-MER, visit d-mer.org.