How can my diet affect my baby while breastfeeding?

Mommy Q&A

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The foods you eat while breastfeeding can affect your baby in many ways. Babies in the first few months of life are particularly sensitive. While reducing amounts of caffeine and alcohol are a well-known aspect of a breastfeeding diet, you may be surprised by some of the foods that could be causing gassiness, fussiness, and even rashes.

Many mothers try dropping dairy, gluten, or beans from their diet when they suspect a baby has a sensitivity. These include acidic vegetables like kale, peppers, tomato or tomato sauce, and strong citrus flavors like lemon and pineapple. Green vegetables in general, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, could also be the culprit. Think also of strong flavors, like red onion, garlic, spicy foods, and rich, aromatic foods like curry. With all these limitations, it can be hard to know where to start. Some specialists suggest beginning with a bland diet when you get home from the hospital, eating foods like white meat chicken, fish, bread, rice, and innocuous vegetables like lettuce and carrots. Then, slowly add in one item at a time, so if something bothers your baby you’ll know what it is.

Of course, it is also important to eat healthily while breastfeeding, because the food you consume affects the quality of your milk. You actually need as much or more calories while breastfeeding than you did while pregnant. Despite these limitations, try to eat nutritious foods.

These are some of the foods that are great to eat while breastfeeding:

  • Fish high in Omegas, like Salmon
  • Lean protein like chicken breast
  • Whole grain starches for added fiber
  • Eggs
  • Spinach or baby spring mix salads
  • Vegetables (carrots, cucumber, celery and green beans typically don’t cause issues)
  • Healthy fats from nuts and avocado
  • Fruits like mango, papaya, strawberries and blueberries

If you can, try to eat organic and/or local foods, which have higher nutrition content. Luckily, some babies have little to no sensitivities at all, and many outgrow them after a few months, once their digestion develops further!

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