What Not To Eat When Breastfeeding | 9 Foods To Avoid

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Curious about what not to eat when breastfeeding? 

Navigating the world of breastfeeding means being mindful of what goes into your body, as it can directly impact your little one’s comfort. 

From caffeine to certain fish, some foods, and drinks can upset your baby’s tummy. But it’s not just about avoiding the obvious. 

Even seemingly harmless foods like broccoli or garlic can cause issues. 

In this article, we’ll break down the dos and don’ts of breastfeeding nutrition, helping you steer clear of what not to eat when breastfeeding to keep your baby happy and healthy.

What not to eat when breastfeeding?

mom cooking while holding a baby

Are you wondering what foods to avoid while breastfeeding? Here’s, at a glance, a list of foods and drinks to stay away from or better said consume in moderation while breastfeeding:

  • Coffee, coke, black tea – or any other drink with caffeine in it. Limit to about 300 mg or less per day. That’s 1-2 cups of coffee per day.
  • Alcoholic drinks – occasional drinking won’t harm your baby, but it’s best to pump before consuming any amount of alcohol.
  • Shark, swordfish, marlin, tilefish, big eye tuna, and king mackerel – while it’s recommended to have at least 2 portions of fish every week, it’s best to stay away from fish with high levels of mercury while breastfeeding
  • Cabbage, broccoli, and other “gassy” foods – if your baby is gassy or colicky, chances are that consuming these vegetables will make them more uncomfortable. 
  • Peppermint, sage, and parsley – some herbs may affect breast milk production, so if you see trouble with your milk supply, minimize the consumption of these herbs. 
  • Chocolate – consume in moderation as it can have a laxative effect on babies. 
  • Garlic – its strong flavour, can turn your baby off. But you can see how the baby reacts. If you had a lot of garlic in your pregnancy, chances are that your baby is already accustomed to it. 
  • Spicy food – try to cut back on spicy foods if your little one is gassy or colicky.
  • Cow’s milk – it’s known as the most common childhood food allergy. You can still consume cow’s milk, but make sure you observe your baby’s symptoms. 

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foods to avoid when breastfeeding infographic

📌 Related article: Benefits of Exclusive Breastfeeding for Mom & Baby

What foods can upset a breastfed baby?

mom breastfeeding a baby on a bed

The short answer to this is – anything! 

Everything you eat or drink is transferred through breast milk, without exceptions. 

However, not all babies react the same way – some might be more sensitive than others. 

So if you pay attention to your baby’s reaction after you’ve had a certain meal you can easily figure it out. That’s how you can avoid or remove certain foods from your diet.

Certain foods, such as beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or some dairy products, can make some babies fussy, gassy, or clingy. 

Typical allergy triggers include dairy products, soy, wheat, corn, oats, eggs, peanuts, and almonds, as well as seafood and shellfish.

How to tell if food is bothering your baby?

mom cooking while holding a baby

If you notice anything unusual in your baby’s behaviour or maybe you are concerned about anything, in particular, speak to your healthcare professional ASAP! 

Don’t wait for things to get worse. It’s better to treat it early rather than later. 

Keep in mind that these reactions can have different forms, these can be some early signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Colic
  • Runny eyes
  • Eczema
  • Congestion
  • Diahreea
  • Abnormal fussiness
  • Excessive gas

📌 Related article: Breastfeeding after C section | My experience

How long does it take for food to pass into breast milk?

mom holding a baby

This is a VERY important thing to know, especially if you want to look for certain food reactions or allergies your baby might have.

Of course, there isn’t a set-in-stone timeline for this, but on average it takes between 4 to 6 hours for food to reach breast milk. 

But there are some occasions where certain foods can reach your breast milk as early as 1 hour or as late as 24 hours. 

There are lots of dependants for this:

  • How often do you nurse
  • What type of food you eat
  • Your metabolism
  • How quickly your body digests food

📌 Related article: First-time Mom Breastfeeding Essentials | Things You Really need

What is colic and what’s causing it?

mom breastfeeding a baby at a coffee shop

I won’t go into a lot of detail about colic in babies. There’s so much information on this subject online, but I still wanted to give you a quick overview.

The most important thing you should know about colic is that you CAN’T avoid it, but for sure you CAN make it worse if you’re not careful with your diet while breastfeeding. 

Some people say that babies don’t have colic if you are careful with your diet.

This is very far from the truth! All babies have colic, no matter how they are fed – formula or breast milk. This is something you can’t avoid! 

Colic is absolutely normal for a newborn baby which will then go away around 3-4 months old. 

Keep in mind that your baby’s stomach is adjusting to milk and you’re “transferring” to your baby a wide variety of foods with your milk, and therefore makes them “colicky”. 

They have cramps, gas, and lots of dirty diapers.

Here’s a list of theories that stand behind its causes:

  • Gas
  • Muscle spasms created by the growing digestive system
  • Baby’s mood
  • Oversensitivity or overstimulation by the outside world – remember that breastfed infants are adjusting to life outside the womb
  • Stomach pains created by hormones 
  • Developing nervous system

You should also be aware that not everything is related to colic. So if you are concerned about your baby’s well-being you should take him to the pediatrician. 

As I mentioned above, your diet can also have some sort of influence on your baby’s colic. Certain foods can make things worse if you are not careful. 


mom eating while breastfeeding

Understanding what not to eat when breastfeeding is key to ensuring your baby’s comfort and well-being. 

By being mindful of potential triggers and paying attention to your baby’s cues, you can navigate this journey with confidence. 

Remember, it’s not about perfection but about finding what works best for you and your baby. 

Armed with knowledge, you can make informed choices that support a smooth and enjoyable breastfeeding experience for both of you.

Have experiences or tips to share? Leave a comment below and let’s continue the conversation. 

Together, we can support each other on this breastfeeding journey.

xx Kinga

FAQ on what not to eat when breastfeeding

mom cooking while holding a baby
  • What foods cause gas in breastfed babies?

    Typically, these are beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. But since babies might react differently to certain foods, it’s best to pay attention to your baby’s reaction after you’ve had certain foods. You can easily figure out what foods your baby tolerates and what foods to exclude from your diet. 

  • What food will stop breast milk?

    Peppermint, Parsley, and Sage are herbs that may affect your milk supply, so if you see trouble with your milk supply, minimize the consumption of them. 

  • What foods cause colic in babies?

    Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, chocolate, onions, and cow’s milk.

  • What should a mother eat when her baby has colic?

    Make sure you include in your diet plenty of water, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy sources.

mom cooking while holding a baby
mom cooking while holding a baby

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