You are what you eat, right? But your baby is what you eat. Nutrition is a priority from the time you decide to get pregnant, throughout your pregnancy and it should remain a priority for breastfeeding mothers too.
The foods you eat will affect your breast milk, and baby may express his or her preferences via bowel health, tummy happiness and overall well-being. If you think your baby seems a little more fussy than usual, you may take a look at what you ate previously.
Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding Baby
Here are some of the foods to avoid while breastfeeding – or at least think twice about – in case they disrupt baby’s tummy function, comfort and general health.
Drugs and alcohol
There are some things that should be avoided, period, while breastfeeding. Any illicit drugs are in that category. If you take prescription medications, discuss their breastfeeding safety with your doctor in case there is a healthier alternative for baby.
While breastfeeding mothers can drink alcohol, know that some alcohol will be present in your breast milk once it hits your bloodstream. Experts agree that a drink or two will not cause a problem. However, if you find yourself overindulging, it’s always a good idea to pump and dump for the two hours after you stop drinking. Use frozen breastmilk (which stays good for up to six months) during that time period.
Caffeine in moderation is just fine. However, if you’ve celebrated your ability to consume caffeine again by making quad-mochas a daily habit, you may want to half-caf that order. Caffeine gets into breastmilk and can act as a stimulant for baby. Since their bodies aren’t set up to process caffeine efficiently, you may end up with a fussier baby come naptime.
On one hand, fish is one of the healthiest sources of animal-based protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, it can also contain high levels of mercury and other toxic metals as a result of polluted ocean water. For this reason, we recommend adhering to the same Fish and Seafood Consumption Guidelines set out for pregnant women to minimize the amount of metal stored in your body or present in your breastmilk.
Mmmm. Chocolate. It’s so good and yet, unfortunately, it can also act as a laxative for baby. Pay attention to baby’s diaper results after you’ve enjoyed a chocolate feast. If it’s runnier than normal, or baby seems a little agitated, you might have to cut back or eliminate it altogether for a while.
If baby is fussy or seems to be gassy or colicky, it’s time to keep a food journal and see if there are any correlations between what you eat and the baby’s resulting tummy upset. Dairy products are some of the most common offenders, causing babies to be gassy, fussy, get eczema or rashes or to have trouble sleeping. It can be difficult to eliminate dairy from your diet, but with the abundance of dairy-alternatives, you’ll be able to find your way. Ideally, you should give up dairy for at least two full weeks before deciding whether there’s an improvement for baby or not.
The acid present in citrus fruits can cause babies to spit up, feel fussy or experience more frequent diaper rashes. Minimize citrus in your diet to see if it helps any of these issues, and get your Vitamin C dose from fruits such as mango or pineapple (or leafy greens, if baby isn’t sensitive to them).
Like dairy, a baby’s sensitivity to gluten can show up long before they’re actually eating wheat-based or gluten themselves. Bloody stools are one of the most common signs of gluten-sensitivity in infants or breastfeeding babies, an upset tummy and fussiness are close seconds. First, we recommend sourcing organic breads that are made using slow-rise methods (most bakeries adhere to old-world breadmaking principles, which produce more enzymes that break down gluten before the bread is baked). If this doesn’t work, you might have to go gluten-free for a while.
You might love that extra dose of garlic on your favorite pizza, but baby might not. The scent and taste of garlic is evident in breastmilk, which may cause baby to shown an aversion to nursing or to make a displeased face in between gulps. If you notice this, review your diet and see if you ate more garlic than normal. If so, you might want to ease off just a bit so baby remains a willing and happy nurser.
Cruciferous or “gassy” veggies
Have you ever noticed that cruciferous veggies (kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) make you more gassy than usual? So can onions and peppers. Well, babies aren’t immune to this effect, and you may find the same veggies that make you gassy have similar results for baby. However, a bay’s G.I. tract is a lot smaller so those gassy pockets cause them more discomfort. If you have a gassy baby, look to your own diet first and adjust it accordingly to see if it makes a difference.
Other food items known to cause upset for babies include strong spices, strawberries, kiwis, and fruits that are known to have a laxative effect – like cherries or prunes.
Your baby’s body will communicate with you about what works and what doesn’t from your diet. While adjusting what you eat can seem like a chore at first, it will be worth it when you have a happier, more comfortable, sleep-happier baby!