Breastfeeding Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid | Pampers (2023)

Wondering what you should and should not be eating while breastfeeding your little one? Read on to find out which foods to eat and which foods to avoid so that both you and your baby stay healthy and get the best possible nutrition.

Do You Need to Follow a Special Breastfeeding Diet?

There is no specific menu or diet regimen that you, as a breastfeeding mom, definitely need to follow. Instead, try to eat a normal, healthy diet to help maintain your breast milk supply and support your and your baby’s nutritional needs.

Just as you should at other times in life, it’s important when you’re breastfeeding to enjoy a well-rounded diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and foods rich in calcium and minerals. To help you do this, check out, which lets you select healthy options from each of the main food groups and provides tips and a personalized food plan for breastfeeding moms.

As a breastfeeding mom, you may need to consume an extra 300 to 500 calories per day to keep your energy levels up. To get those extra calories, you could, for example, eat any of the following: a slice of whole-grain bread with one tablespoon of peanut butter, a medium banana or apple, or eight ounces of yogurt.

Best Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding

It’s necessary to consume a sufficient amount of certain nutrients while you’re breastfeeding since you’ll be passing on those nutrients to your little one through your breast milk. Read on to find out what the best foods for breastfeeding are.

Calcium-Rich Foods

One of the most important dietary minerals is calcium, which helps keep your bones healthy and strong. That's why you'll need to make sure you get your daily dose of 1,000 milligrams (1,300 for teenaged mothers). Studies show that moms lose about 3 to 5 percent of their bone mass while breastfeeding. To help offset this, make sure you load up on calcium while you’re breastfeeding.

Shoot for three servings of dairy products per day, which can include things like milk, cheese, and yogurt. To give you an idea of serving size, eight ounces of milk is one serving.

Calcium-rich dairy alternatives include:

  • calcium-fortified juices

  • tofu

  • dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli

  • dried beans

    (Video) 10 Foods to Avoid During Breastfeeding

  • fortified breakfast cereals

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble reaching the 1,000 milligrams per day recommendation. Your provider may recommend a calcium supplement, which should made without crushed oyster shells, as these can contain lead.

Folate-Rich Foods

To support your baby’s ongoing development, aim for at least 400 micrograms of folate (folic acid) per day. Your provider may recommend taking a multivitamin or tell you to keep taking your prenatal vitamin to get enough folate.

You’ll also want to eat folate-rich foods such as spinach, citrus fruits, meat or poultry liver, and a variety of beans. You can also get folate from folate-enriched breads, cereals, and grains.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D

Vitamin D, along with calcium, is crucial for maintaining bone strength. Although sun exposure is one of the best ways to get vitamin D, it’s not the safest method, given the risks of skin cancer, nor is it always practical. You can obtain a good supply of vitamin D through foods such as:

  • salmon

  • mackerel

  • fortified milk or orange juice

  • yogurt

Most experts recommend between 400 and 1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day. To give you some examples of foods high in vitamin D, three ounces of cooked sockeye salmon has 477 IU, a can of tuna in water has 154 IU, and 1 cup of fortified orange juice has 137 IU.

The good news is that fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote the growth and development of your baby’s brain and eyes.

Getting plenty of vitamin D is also important because it helps your digestive tract absorb calcium.

(Video) What to Eat and Avoid while Breastfeeding | Nutrition, Eating and Exercising : Breastfeeding Tips

Your baby’s healthcare provider may recommend a vitamin D supplement for your baby. This is because babies who are exclusively breastfed are at risk of developing a condition called rickets (a softening and weakening of bones) if they don’t get enough vitamin D from breast milk alone.

Foods High in Protein

When you’re nursing you need six to six-and-a-half ounces of protein a day, which helps build, repair, and maintain body tissues. Aim for two or three servings of lean meat, poultry, or fish, knowing that a three-ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards.

You can also get 1-ounce protein equivalents from 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, nuts (such as 12 almonds or 24 pistachios), or a quarter cup of cooked beans.

If peanut allergies run in your family, pay especially close attention to how your baby responds after you’ve consumed peanuts or peanut butter. Speak to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.


Lean meats and dark, leafy green vegetables are great sources of iron; fish, iron-fortified cereals, and dark poultry meat also contain this important mineral. The body more easily absorbs iron from animal sources than from plant sources. Your healthcare provider may recommend taking iron supplements to ensure you’re getting enough in your diet while breastfeeding.


You may notice that you are thirstier than usual while you’re lactating. It’s important to make sure you’re drinking enough water every day. A good tip is to drink a glass of water every time you breastfeed.

Foods to Avoid or Limit While Breastfeeding

After carefully watching what you were eating during your pregnancy, you might hope that after your baby’s birth you can go back to eating and drinking the way you were beforehand. However, there are still some foods and drinks to be wary of when breastfeeding..

Below are some of the foods and drinks to avoid or limit while breastfeeding.

Seafood That’s High in Mercury

Fish can play an important role in a healthy diet, since it’s rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, some types of fish contain high levels of mercury, which can cause damage to the nervous system in babies and small children. For this reason, avoid fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

Instead, stick to fish such as canned light tuna (limit canned albacore tuna to no more than six ounces per week since it contains more mercury), shrimp, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

If you like locally caught fish, check local advisories about the safety of the fish. For more information on the mercury levels of the different types of fish, check out this handy guide from the FDA.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Long-term, repeated alcohol consumption can reduce your breast milk supply and may be harmful to your baby. Alcohol also changes the way your breast milk tastes, which your baby may not like. That's why it's best to avoid alcohol altogether.

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If you must have an occasional alcoholic drink, have one just after you’ve nursed your baby or expressed/pumped, and wait at least a couple of hours before you breastfeed, express, or pump again. This gives your body enough time to metabolize the alcohol.

Caffeinated Beverages and Breastfeeding

Drinking up to three cups of caffeinated beverages while breastfeeding a day is usually OK. Any more can make your baby fussy or irritable.

Keep in mind, there’s caffeine in coffee, but there’s also caffeine in some teas, sodas, and chocolates, so factor all these into your calculations of how much caffeine you’re consuming.

Sugary Drinks and Breastfeeding

Try to limit or avoid sugary drinks, including soft drinks like fruit juices and iced teas. Instead, drink lots of water.

A Note on Vitamins and Supplements

Your healthcare provider may have you continue taking your prenatal vitamins or a multivitamin until you wean your baby.

Iodine is another crucial mineral while you’re breastfeeding. Your healthcare provider may recommend you take a supplement that includes the 150 micrograms needed per day.

If you adhere to a vegan or vegetarian diet, your healthcare provider may recommend a daily vitamin B-12 supplement. Vitamin B-12, which is essential for your baby’s brain development, is contained in much higher levels in animal protein than in vegetables. Your provider may also recommend an omega-3 supplement if you’re not eating fish.

Food Reactions, Intolerances, and Allergies That May Affect Your Baby

Your baby may have a reaction to your breast milk after you’ve had certain foods or drinks. For example:

  • After you eat beans, cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower, your baby may get gassy or fussy.

  • After you’ve had spicy food, your baby may not like the taste of your breast milk because it can change the taste.

  • Your little one may be more fussy or irritable if you’ve had too much caffeine.

  • Your baby may also develop an allergic reaction after you’ve had cow’s milk, soy, wheat, corn, oats, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, or shellfish.

    (Video) #2 Are there Foods to avoid while breastfeeding? Gentle anti colic diet!

Signs of an allergic reaction in your baby include

  • frequent spitting up or vomiting

  • belly pain

  • lots of gas

  • pulling up the knees in pain

  • blood or mucus in his stool

  • hard poops

  • skin rashes and swelling

Call 911 immediately if your baby has trouble breathing or his face swells. Reach out to your baby's healthcare provider if you’re concerned that your baby may be unwell after feeding.

In some cases, you might consider keeping a food diary to track any possible allergies or intolerances, gassiness, fussiness, or signs of colic, and then go back to your baby’s healthcare provider with the results. The provider may suggest an elimination diet, which means eliminating a certain food from your diet to see if there’s a change in your baby’s response.

Keeping your diet as healthy, varied, and well-rounded as possible while breastfeeding helps give your baby a great start in life, and also helps you take good care of yourself. The few watch-outs are important to note since they can affect your breast milk supply and/or your baby’s health.

During this time, your baby will be going through a lot of diapers. Why not turn those diaper purchases into rewards by using the Pampers Club app? Simply download the app today, start scanning your Pampers product codes, and watch those rewards pile up.

(Video) Foods to avoid while breastfeeding


What foods hurt breastfed babies? ›

Foods like beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or some dairy products can cause fussiness, gassiness, or colicky behavior in some babies. Foods like cow's milk, soy, wheat, corn, oats, eggs, nuts and peanuts, and fish or shellfish are common allergy-causing foods.

What diet should I be on during breastfeeding? ›

protein, such as lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, soya foods and pulses – no more than 2 portions of fish a week is recommended, including 1 portion of oily fish. dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt – these contain calcium and are a source of protein.

Which fruits help increase breast milk? ›

Apricots and dates

Eating apricots and dates can increase prolactin, which is the hormone that tells your body to produce milk. Apricots contain essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.

What are the top 8 allergens breastfeeding? ›

The top eight allergens for babies and young children include cow's milk, soy, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nuts (like almonds, cashews and walnuts), shellfish (including lobster, crab and shrimp) and wheat. Among children, the most common allergen is cow's milk protein (dairy).

What foods cause spit up in breastfed babies? ›

Food sensitivities can cause excessive spitting. The most likely offender is cow's milk products (in baby's or mom's diet). Other things to ask yourself: is baby getting anything other than breastmilk – formula, solids (including cereal), vitamins (fluoride, iron, etc.), medications, herbal preparations?

Why should you avoid chocolate while breastfeeding? ›

Chocolate contains theobromine. Because theobromine is a stimulant, it could, in theory, cause the breastfed infant to be wakeful and fussy.

What foods make baby gassy? ›

Foods That Make Breastfed Babies Gassy
  • Fiber. Foods like bran, beans, and whole grains.
  • Fruit. Citrus fruits, prunes, plums, peaches, or apricots.
  • Vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts.
  • Garlic. Garlic-seasoned foods like pasta dishes or garlic bread.
  • Dairy. ...
  • Carbonated beverages.

Why do breastfeeding moms gain weight? ›

That may sound extreme, but nearly every mom who's ever exclusively breastfed her baby can agree that breastfeeding is a workout and makes you HUNGRY, since the body needs to replenish the calories it burns producing milk (about 20 calories per ounce).

Do you have to wash breast pump parts after every use? ›

The CDC and most breast pump manufacturers recommend cleaning pump parts thoroughly after every use to help protect babies from germs.

What is hardest time of breastfeeding? ›

The first four to six weeks are the toughest, then it starts to settle down,” says Cathy. “And when you get to three months, breastfeeding gets really easy – way easier than cleaning and making up a bottle.

At what point is breastfeeding no longer beneficial? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers feed their babies only breast milk for six months and continue breastfeeding for at least one year. After that, it really depends on how long the mother and child want to continue.

What not to do while breast pumping? ›

Don't try to express more milk: With machines in play, you might be tempted to express more milk via high power settings in the machine. Don't indulge in such practices. Don't try to fill the container completely: You have to keep in mind that you have to feed the baby and not the container.

What is the best breakfast for breastfeeding? ›

Fresh fruit, dried fruits (like apricots, figs and prunes), breakfast cereal with milk, toast or oatcakes are all ideal and quick. There's no need to buy expensive supplements when breastfeeding, but a vitamin D supplement is advised.

What drinks promote breast milk? ›

Here are some flavorful options to keep your breast milk and mood flowing!
  • Water. According to the Mayo Clinic, it's recommended that you drink more water than usual when you're breastfeeding. ...
  • Infused Water. ...
  • Seltzer. ...
  • Herbal Tea. ...
  • Almond Milk. ...
  • Fruit Juice. ...
  • Vegetable Juice. ...
  • Beer?

How can I double my milk supply? ›

Read on to learn some tips for things you can do to try to increase your milk supply while pumping.
  1. Pump more often. ...
  2. Pump after nursing. ...
  3. Double pump. ...
  4. Use the right equipment. ...
  5. Try lactation cookies and supplements. ...
  6. Maintain a healthy diet. ...
  7. Don't compare. ...
  8. Relax.
Feb 22, 2019

How long does food stay in breastmilk? ›

The Science On How Long Food Proteins Are In Your Breastmilk

Second, when proteins were detected they typically cleared breastmilk within 6-8 hours (cow's milk, peanuts, and egg).

What is normal breastfed baby poop? ›

Breastfed baby poop is considered normal when it's a mustard yellow, green or brown color. It is typically seedy and pasty in texture and may be runny enough to resemble diarrhea. Healthy breastfed stools will smell sweet (unlike regular bowel-movement odor).

What is the most common allergy in a breastfed baby? ›

You may want to start with cow's milk, as the most frequent allergic reaction in breastfed babies is a milk protein allergy.

Why do breastfed babies cry more? ›

New mums should be advised that it is normal for their baby to cry more if they are breastfed, say experts. The Medical Research Council team says this irritability is natural, and although formula-fed babies may appear more content and be easier to pacify, breast is still best.

What vegetables should I avoid while breastfeeding? ›

Common culprits include beans, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Bloating, burping, and passing gas are normal. But if your baby is gassy or has colic, avoid these foods for a few weeks to see whether they relieve the symptoms.

What foods cause colic in babies? ›

Fats from cereals, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives are essential for keeping your baby's skin healthy, although they can occasionally induce colic. Wheat, corn, peanuts, and soy are the most typical culprits.

Can eating too much sugar affect breast milk? ›

Mercy Pediatrician, Dr. Ashanti Woods, Discusses Effect of High Sugar Levels in Breast Milk. Mothers who consume large amounts of sugar could be passing the added sugar to their infants through breast milk, which could hamper the child's cognitive development.

Can I eat pizza while breastfeeding? ›

Yes! You can enjoy pizza while breastfeeding. Just pay attention to cues from your baby to make sure they're not sensitive to dairy. It's generally recommended that you can eat whatever you like unless you notice a clear reaction in your baby to a particular food you ate.

Can I have peanut during breastfeeding? ›

Recent research suggests that consuming peanuts while you are pregnant or breastfeeding will not lead to the development of peanut allergy in your baby–in fact, it might help protect against it.

What causes babies to fart alot? ›

"Newborn digestive systems are immature, so they produce a lot of gas, and this is normal. Infants also take in a lot of air while feeding and crying, which produces more gas," says Samira Armin, M.D., a pediatrician at Texas Children's Pediatrics in Houston.

Do pacifiers help with gas? ›

Almost all babies will find some baby gas relief by sucking on a pacifier,” O'Connor says, because the sucking action releases endorphins that will soothe them.

How to lose belly fat after pregnancy while breastfeeding? ›

How to Lose The Pesky Belly Fat
  1. Breastfeeding. For nursing mums, you're already doing a lot of work at naturally burning fat as breastfeeding can burn an additional 300 – 500 calories a day, provided you are eating a balanced diet with it.
  2. Avoid Fizzy Drinks. ...
  3. Exercise Your Whole Body. ...
  4. Check Your Diet.

How often do you need to sterilize pacifiers? ›

You should definitely strive to sterilize your baby's pacifiers at least once per month, but you should sanitize pacifiers daily. Sanitizing is when you eliminate enough of the microorganisms on an object for it to be considered “safe.”

What is the fridge hack for pumping? ›

Fridge hack

In between sessions, some people put their pump parts in a gallon-size zip-top bag or Pumparoo in the fridge, and just wash them every few sessions. This is known as the “fridge hack,” and I often did this. In September 2017, the CDC issued new guidelines recommending pump parts be washed after each use.

What time of day is best to pump? ›

Pump in the morning. Many moms get the most milk first thing in the morning. Pump between breastfeeding, either 30-60 minutes after nursing or at least one hour before breastfeeding. This should leave plenty of milk for your baby at your next feeding.

How do I cut calories without losing my milk supply? ›

  1. Aim to eat foods that contain high amounts of Omega 3's. ...
  2. Eat consistently throughout the day. ...
  3. Eat lots of iron-rich foods. ...
  4. Eat a diet that rich in complex carbohydrates. ...
  5. Eat a diet that is rich in calcium and protein. ...
  6. Aim to eat the color of the rainbow each day when you are choosing fruits and vegetables.
Sep 3, 2012

What allergens can you cut out while breastfeeding? ›

#1 Eliminating one food at a time

To make it as simple as possible, one can start by eliminating the most likely suspects for allergies one at a time (i.e., cow's milk, soy, citrus fruits, eggs, nuts, peanuts, wheat, corn, strawberries, and chocolate).

How to lose 25 pounds while breastfeeding? ›

However, there are several things you can do to safely support weight loss while breastfeeding.
  1. Go lower-carb. Limiting the amount of carbohydrates you consume may help you lose pregnancy weight faster. ...
  2. Exercise safely. ...
  3. Stay hydrated. ...
  4. Don't skip meals. ...
  5. Eat more frequently. ...
  6. Rest when you can.
Mar 1, 2019

Is it harder to lose weight while breastfeeding? ›

The reasons why some women may have a harder time losing their baby weight while breastfeeding can be diverse. For one, breastfeeding tends to increase hunger. Studies show that some women eat more and move less while nursing — compensating for the extra calorie burn of breastfeeding ( 17 ).

Why am I hungry all the time gaining weight breastfeeding? ›

Why does breastfeeding make me hungry? Breastfeeding requires energy, and our bodies need to burn calories to create this energy. The extra energy used each day to create milk is around 500 calories and can be even higher during the first few weeks.

How long does an elimination diet take to work for breastfeeding? ›

There are 2 main ways of doing an "elimination diet." Eliminate all at once: Take out all cow's milk products, soy and eggs from your diet. Wait 2-4 weeks to see if baby improves.

How long until dairy is out of breast milk? ›

The Science On How Long Food Proteins Are In Your Breastmilk

Second, when proteins were detected they typically cleared breastmilk within 6-8 hours (cow's milk, peanuts, and egg).


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