Foods to Avoid When Breastfeeding

Breast milk is the perfect food for your new baby, there is nothing that can compare to it for nutrition, immune system enhancement and the bonding that takes place while baby is in your arms. There are some foods that will affect your milk that may not agree with the baby. I will mention some of these here but I want you to realize that you are still eating for two! I am not referring to the quantity of food but the quality of the food. Your milk will be a reflection of what you are consuming, good or bad.

This is in no way trying to discourage you from breastfeeding! I encourage breastfeeding; I did it for at least 2-4 years per child! (5 children) The benefits are so important that I will dedicate a whole article just on that subject. To not breastfeed puts the child at a huge disadvantage from an immunity stand point and a bonding stand point. Many mothers give up on breastfeeding because of sore nipples, the time it takes to nurse, insufficient milk or the baby is having difficulty latching on. I have an article on how to handle these obstacles…just never give up for the baby’s sake!

Foods That May Cause Irritation

  • By observing your baby’s bottom and skin for rashes, you will see if something is irritating them. If they start to throw-up or if they seem fussy after nursing and have gas, stop and think about what you may have eaten that could perhaps not agree with them. If the baby swells up somewhere (puffy hands or lips) it is probably a reaction to food as well. I recommend that you start by eating a simple diet of veggies, proteins and some fruits. As the baby gets to be a few weeks old, add a few new items to your diet and watch to see how the baby responds. Many people are allergic to foods and are now gluten and casein sensitive. This may affect your milk too.


  • Acidic Foods : Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and tangerines are high in acid and may cause a diaper rash or upset tummy for the new baby. Tomato sauces are also high in acid and are found in many foods like spaghetti, pizza, lasagna and many soup bases.


  • Gas Producing Foods : Broccoli, cauliflower and beans are known to cause gas and may so the same to the baby. Avoid them for the first month then test them out and observe the baby a day after to see if your baby is affected by these foods.


  • Spicy Foods : Many people love to use hot peppers and hot sauces as condiments and even though they are healthy for Mom, they may not agree with the baby. Watch for diaper rashes or skin rashes as a reaction. One spice to use in place of hot peppers is ginger which may settle the baby’s tummy too!


  • Alcohol : An occasional glass of wine or a beer can help with milk production and even calm down mother but alcohol can pass into the milk. Everyone breaks down alcohol differently and if alcoholism runs in the family, you should try to avoid all together. Try calming teas and soothing music to calm at the end of the day. A good back massage does wonders too!


  • Garlic : Because garlic is so strong, it can actually make the milk taste different to the baby. Use sparingly in the beginning and if it is cooked, it will lose some potency and may be easier.


  • Foods That You are Allergic To : Many people now are allergic to wheat, peanuts, dairy products, eggs, shell fish and GMO corn. Pay attention to these foods in your diet and if they bother you, avoid eating them while nursing. Food allergies are epidemic in the US and many children are now born sensitive to these common foods. (See article: Food Allergies in our Children)


  • Caffeine : Chocolate and Coffee contain caffeine as do some sodas and teas. Babies cannot break down the caffeine as fast as an adult and it may affect their sleeping patterns.


  • Soy : Soy is now added to so many products in the grocery store and is used as filler, added protein and as an emulsifier in foods. Soy lecithin holds foods
    together so that they do not separate. The soy in this country is not the same quality of soy used in others countries and is not good for consumption. Studies show that soy in this country reduces thyroid function and can lead to hormone problems.


  • Shell Fish and Fish High in Mercury : Babies are now born with hundreds of chemicals in their cord blood illustrating how many chemicals they are exposed to pre-birth. According to the EPA, it is estimated that 1 in 6 children (up to 630,000 children per year) born in US has unsafe blood levels of mercury at birth (Mahaffey, 2004). These levels are high enough to cause a decline in IQ at an estimated annual cost of 8.7 billion (Trasande, 2005). Many of the lake and ocean fish contain mercury and other chemicals that can pass into the breast milk. Some fish are less likely to have mercury. (See article: Foods to Avoid While Pregnant for a complete list).

Nursing Beyond a Year!

Usually around 8-12 months, the baby will start to show interest in table foods. (See article: Introducing Foods to the Breastfed Baby) They are ready for table foods when they have some teeth in their mouth and the foods should be soft and easy to swallow. Most babies will start to supplement breastfeeding around a year old but still can benefit from breast milk. The milk mother produces will be just the right fat and sugar content for brain development. At 18 months, mother’s milk produces an enzyme that aids in the developing brain! The suckling also helps brain development…the benefits for baby and mother is amazing.

As the baby grows, you will be able to increase your variety. Some babies are more sensitive than others so just know that even siblings may be completely different when nursing. A breastfed baby is usually happy, content and very healthy compared to the bottle fed child. They seem to have higher IQ, better immunity, more secure and the bond with Mother is something so precious…only a mother who has nursed can relate!