Breastfeeding Guide: 5 Types of Foods to Limit or Avoid While Breastfeeding

Foods to Eat and or Avoid When Breastfeeding

Wondering What not to Eat & What is Best While Breastfeeding?

So what are the foods to avoid while breastfeeding? The breastfeeding period is that period when a mother needs a lot of quality foods with the essential vitamins, and minerals for daily, and uninterrupted baby growth. It is typical for a baby to take from whatever food the mother consumes; This is how they derive the necessary nutrients, and highlights why breastfeeding is essential.

Thus, as a nursing mother, you must be cautious and conscious of what you eat to ensure the right food with the required nutrients and minerals are sourced and passed to the baby. The mother’s health often translates to the breastfeeding baby’s health; hence, the mother needs to avoid unhealthy substances, particularly for the safety of the infant.

Babies get some ratio from the nutrients in the mother’s food during breastfeeding.

In this review, we present and describe some of the food breastfeeding mothers need to avoid.

Spicy Foods

Generally, spices add an irresistible aromatic flavor to every meal. Your breast milk likely takes on the taste of the food you have eaten, and babies are generally said to enjoy this wide range of flavors.

On the other hand, onions, garlic, or ginger are some of the flavors that many babies do not enjoy, this is probably due to the strong smell they produce. These are not usually bad but the taste may put them off. Your baby may oftentimes refuse the breast after you most have recently taken garlic or ginger. The aroma may be turning him or her off because it is quite strong.

Some babies may not be able to handle spicy foods. They may become gassy, colicky, or even get diarrhea every time they take such foods even in tiny doses. You should cut down these hot delicacies for some time and observe your baby’s reaction.

Certain Herbs

Herbs are great ingredients to spice-up, and add flavor to your meals, even for a nursing mother, but some also come with negative effects on your milk supply. The anti-galactagogues family, such as sage, parsley, and peppermint, inhibit breast milk supply when consumed in large quantities. Moderate consumption is advisable but avoid them altogether if you observe a shortage of breast milk production. You can contact your doctor for a list of some healthy alternative herbs to garnish and spice-up your meals.


You may be tempted to have some amount of alcohol as you breastfeed. Whenever you take a drink, it goes into your blood and finds its way into your breast milk. No amount of alcohol is considered safe for your infant since their liver is immature at this point. Moreover, various challenges, such as impaired development, delay in psychomotor skills, and cognitive delay later in life, have been linked to excessive alcohol intake during breastfeeding. 

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You should not take alcohol at all.  If you must, then take some strict precautions.

  • Allow the alcohol to be completely cleared off your milk before you breastfeed.
  • Plan your drink time in-between breastfeeding sessions to allow ample alcohol hours to clear from your system.
  • Practice breast milk pumping before having a drink as an excellent means to ensure your baby feeds on schedule and can access quality milk always.

Highly Processed Foods

It’s a common understanding that everyone should stay away from highly processed and synthesized foods in our diet and during breastfeeding, this should be taken more seriously. Modern city life is mostly sedentary and keeps people always busy. Some of us may be tempted to eat fast food and frozen meals occasionally.

In most cases, these highly processed foods are high in calories, salt, additives, and preservatives but have low nutritional values. The absence of chicken nugget, French-fries in your menu for some months, will not cause you any harm. Still, there are much more nutritious and healthy options available for you to select. If the food list is long as a machine manual with many chemistry banes, consider other foods.

Also, avoid foods with processed fats as these may be unhealthy for your baby. Sticking to whole foods with fewer ingredients is much better. It will help to prevent any nutritional deficiencies in you and your baby’s diet. Highly processed and synthesized foods are known to be very low in essential nutrients. They may also affect your child’s choice of food as they grow older.


A good, balanced diet is essential for breastfeeding mothers, for themselves and the baby. Chocolate and beverages such as cola, coffee, and some energy drinks can be part of a balanced diet. Nevertheless, the downside is that they contain some amounts of caffeine and similar stimulants. Mothers that breastfeed their babies properly limit their intake of these foods and drinks because any amount you take goes down to the breast milk.

Your little one does not process caffeine as fast as your body is designed to, and having too much caffeine in your system can give you and your baby trouble sleeping and may even lead to irritation. It may also make it difficult for your body and the baby to absorb iron from other foods consumed which are necessary for your energy needs as well as your baby’s. The best thing to do in this case is to take decaffeinated drinks.

Certain Vegetables

Without a doubt, vegetables are supper nutritious that every nursing mom should include in their diet, especially now that you need essential vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients for you and your baby.  Remember that some of these vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels’ sprouts may make your baby gassy, and comfortable.

Although, every baby will react to these foods differently as it is obtainable with adults. We are not saying you should altogether avoid these nutritional powerhouses since the benefits outweigh the risk. Pay close attention to your baby when you consume vegetables and see if it has a negative effect on your baby. Cooking these vegetables will also help make them easier to digest and minimize the risk of stomach gas. Gastrointestinal distress is often associated with raw vegetables.

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Fish is generally a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, among other nutrients. It’s essential for breastfeeding mothers and the baby. Like salmon and tuna, some give you omega-3, which your body needs but not common in other food.

Be careful when choosing fish because many of them can have a higher concentration of mercury than others. Bigger fish usually has more concentration of mercury than smaller fish. By all means, avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, and tilefish. They contain very high mercury levels, which is not good for your baby’s nervous system in a large dose.

Having said that, you can enjoy many fishes or seafood about two to three times weekly during breastfeeding. Fishes like salmon, tilapia, trout, catfish, sardines, shrimp, crab, squid, flounder, herring, and pollock include a low mercury concentration.

Sugary Foods

Most of the available sugary foods and drinks have no nutritional contents but packed with calories and unhealthy sugar. You will want to avoid these foods as you breastfeed. Instead, a glass of water is a great way to be well hydrated every time you breastfeed.

Medical professionals do not recommend extra sugar for infants since this may not help with healthier eating habits afterward. Breastfeeding mothers should minimize their intake of foods high in added sugars.

Dairy Foods

Many infants may be allergic to dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, cow’s milk, and others found in most baby formulas. In some cases, babies may have issues digesting dairy products. Hence, a need to consider taking out dairy products from your baby’s and your diet until there is an improvement in your baby’s symptoms. Most babies will, fortunately, outgrow this dairy sensitivity when they reach the age of 2.

Final Note

Production of milk is generally based on demand and supply, breastfeeding frequency, and whether your breasts are fully drained each day. But some food reduces milk production. At the same time, some have a negative effect on your child’s health, hence the need to avoid some of these foods during breastfeeding.

Foods high in essential vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients such as vegetables, whole foods, and non-mercury containing fishes are highly recommended for breastfeeding moms. Occasional intake of caffeine or alcohol will not cause much harm but keep in mind that anything beyond light drinking is risky the child. Taking a well-balanced diet and quality foods are important to you and your baby’s overall health but are not necessary to produce good quality breast milk.

Foods to avoid while breastfeeding cuts across various classes of food. The avoidance is due to the health challenges these foods pose on the breastfed baby or making the baby reject breast due to the food flavors filtering through the breast milk. The effect of some of these foods may just be to reduce breast milk production.

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