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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.


Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

foods to avoid while breastfeedingIf you do even an ounce of research you will soon notice that the list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding could go on for miles. A new mother might feel discouraged by noticing her favorite meals slowly diminishing for fear of upsetting her baby. The truth is that every baby is different and under normal situations no single food can be scratched out across the board. In fact, most babies tolerate all foods rather easily and new research even shows most mom’s can safely have a drink or two while breastfeeding and caffeine is typically OK too.

It is common for babies to be fussy in the first few months so don’t be so quick to blame your diet. However, if you suspect your baby is unnecessarily unhappy, a simple change to your diet could solve all your problems.

Keeping a Food Journal

By paying attention to your baby’s behavior you can deduct what causes him or her discomfort. A food journal or diary is simply a log of things that you consume that you can refer back to in moments of distress. Write down the date and time, food you ate, and symptoms of your baby. You should be able to find a pattern for a specific food or food group after a week or so of logging. A simple notebook will do, however I have typed up a basic rough draft for you to download and print.

What are the symptoms of food intolerance?

If your baby has a sensitivity to a specific food, she might have certain symptoms after you eat. Below is a list of symptoms to look for while nursing.

  • Fussy after a feeding for one to two hours
  • Pulling knees up to chest or a “tight” tummy
  • Explosive stools (more than 10 a day)
  • Frothy or mucousy stools
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Reluctance to nurse

Common Problems: Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

After a few days or instances of fussiness you may notice a pattern. Try to look for certain foods that correlate with your baby’s negative behavior. The most common triggers include:

  • alcoholFoods to avoid while breastfeeding
  • beans
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • chocolate (I know… total bummer)
  • citrus fruits
  • coffee
  • corn
  • cucumber
  • dairy
  • garlic
  • hot peppers (and other spicy foods)
  • onions
  • parsley
  • peanuts
  • peppermint (and other herbs from the mint group)
  • tomatoes
  • strawberries

When my daughter was little she had a sensitivity to onions. It took so long to figure it out, but once I did we had very little issues dealing with my diet.

Now I’m dealing with a much greater issue the second time around…a dairy allergy.

How do I know if my baby has an allergy?

A baby who fusses all the time is said to have colic. A colicy baby may be showing signs of a food allergy. If your baby has a food allergy or intolerance he may have more sever symptoms like diarrhea, rash, gas, constant spitting up or reflux, and hard stools or bloody stools. Babies with food allergies may also have a runny nose or develop eczema.

The most common dietary allergy in a breastfeeding relationship is dairy. Animal byproducts cause lots of discomfort in breastfed babies. Although it sounds intimidating, cutting out dairy is easier than it sounds. If you suspect dairy to be the culprit of your child’s fussiness, eliminate dairy for a month to be sure. It can take up to a month to completely rid your system of a major allergen. (You’d be amazed at how great you feel after a month of being dairy-free, too.)

Other food allergens include soy, gluten, shellfish, and eggs. (Note: eggs are considered a protein and not part of the dairy food group.) If you cannot figure out what is causing your baby’s colic symptoms, an allergy test can be requested at 3 months of age.

What about thrush?

Thrush is a common headache among new nursing mothers. You can help avoid or rid yourself of thrush with some simple dietary changes. Foods that help yeast thrive include sweet foods such as fruits and pastries, yeasty foods like beer and bread, and dairy. Stay tuned for the next post in this series: How to Beat the Yeast Beast.

Photo credit: Images by Dorothee


Shary Lopez is a mid-twenties, nerdy gal living in Central Florida. Her family consists of a lovely fiance and two children, one five-year-old daughter and one brand new baby boy. As a childbirth junkie and breastfeeding advocate, Shary tries to lean her family towards natural living while still grasping onto convenience and frugality. You can find more of her writings on Shary's personal blog, Atta Mama. Shary is also on social networking sites such as FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.



Comments

  1. Wow… I didn’t know some of these…

    We are compiling resources for mommas-to-be and breastfeeding mommas. Come link up your favorite relevant posts: thirty-one10.com/motherhood/milking-it-you-want-me-to-do-what-to-my-boobs/

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I know this is about food sensitivities however, it would have been nice to see foremilk/hindmilk imbalance discussed a bit since it has the exact same symptoms and is a much easier “fix” and far less scary and depressing then eliminating foods.

    • Hi Shari,
      Though that wasn’t the focus of this post, I think that is a great idea for a future post! Thanks for the suggestion :) We appreciate suggestions as we work to make this site an excellent resource for breastfeeding mamas!

  3. Just wanted to add that if you suspect a food allergy in a EBF baby, look into allergy colitis! My daughter is allergic to dairy AND soy! I have also cut out all beef, wheat, eggs, peanuts, beans and shellfish to be on the safe side. It has been a hard lifestyle change but she it 100% worth it and to see her not in pain like she was is a million times worth it!

  4. Kathy Cassity says:

    I have six children and breastfed all for one year. Only one of my children had any food issue. My second son became gassy if I ate peanuts. So, I avoided those while nursing. I am dismayed by how easily so many women give up on nursing at the drop of a hat and simply say, after trying for only a couple of days or weeks, “It didn’t work out.” It is such a cop-out and really doing disservice to one’s child.

    • I find your comment rather offensive. I ran out of milk and, yes, I did everything I could possibly do to get more milk in. My doctor even gave me reglin (sp), a medication to help with increase of breast milk. After a week I went back and told my doctor that I still wasn’t getting enough milk. He said I was dry. I had pumped, taken vitamins, ate oatmeal, all the things to do to gain more milk, in addition to the medication. Just because you were so successful with your breastfeeding experience doesn’t mean everyone else is. Saying that “it didn’t work out,” may be someone’s way of summing up all the continual difficulty and trouble they went into. In my opinion, it’s more important to me that my child is fed enough than insisting that I keep trying to breastfeed when he was simply not getting enough food through that! Yes, I went to a breastfeeding support group too. I was annoyed when the leader of the support group told me, after I fed my son from both sides, that it “takes awhile for the brain to catch up to the belly.” Seriously! Both me and my son looked at her like she was crazy! I got home, gave my son a bottle and he was as happy as lark after that. Yup, with my first child it simply “didn’t work out.” Ya know what…my son is happy, healthy and doing just great. I hope to breast feed more with my next child, but if I can’t…well, I can’t. Several, several, several people have been born, not breastfed and turned out to be very happy and healthy people. Just saying!

      • You realize she is saying it is dismaying when people give up easily. You did not, you tried everything you could and weren’t successful, that’s admirable and understandable, but her comment was directed toward those who really don’t try.

        • Y didn’t u continue breast-feeding whatever u could and supplement with formula the rest, so your baby wasn’t left hungry? Any breast milk is better than none.

      • Well said Carrie!!

  5. I’m normally not a negative-nancy commenter, but I found this post via pinterest and I am rubbed the wrong way about the title. This post is not indeed about “Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding” but instead about “Possible Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding.” There is such a culture of fear and playing on the insecurities of a new mom and new breastfeeder and the title as it is now only promotes that. It makes breastfeeding sound like a chore that requires much self-sacrifice and if you don’t sacrifice all that you love, you aren’t doing it right. I exclusively breastfed my children and it didn’t require huge amounts of self-sacrifice. I ate cheese, chocolate, spicy foods, drank wine, had coffee, pretty much enjoyed my life while breastfeeding my children and it all worked out. Yes, these foods/beverages CAN cause irritation for SOME babies, and it’s good information to have if you should find yourself with a child with stomach issues (many times, those issues aren’t even from the foods mom is eating, btw). But to play it up like with the insinuation that if you don’t avoid this huge laundry list of foods, you’re a bad mom just does a disservice to rookie breastfeeders who are already faced with huge lists of “Do’s & Don’ts” as a new mom.

    So I guess I want to tell any breastfeeding mom out there that is having trouble and wondering if she is to blame because her son or daughter is gassy and/or colicky: you’re doing ok. Don’t blame yourself if you have had some extra spicy pad thai the past three nights, or you just can’t keep the chocolate out of your mouth. :) You’re doing ok. Sometimes what many people attribute to gas or stomach problems may not be those at all! The most helpful resource I had when I was a new mom was the “Wonder Weeks” app… babies go through developmental leaps and this app showed me when my baby was going through those leaps and what kind of changes to expect and 100% of the time, it was right on, with all my babies. Trust your instincts. You’re doing ok, mom.

    • Actually, it seems the author was trying to emphasize that MOST of the time moms don’t have to avoid ANY of these foods. This post is written to moms who have a hunch that something they’re eating is causing a problem. It’s trying to hi-light some of the foods that are the likely culprits. In big bold font at the top of this post it says:
      “…under normal situations no single food can be scratched out across the board. In fact, most babies tolerate all foods rather easily…”

  6. stephanie says:

    I commented here yesterday about why I thought the title of this post did a bit of a disservice to new nursing moms. Why was the comment not approved??

    • The comment you left yesterday had not yet been approved because we are busy mommies who run this site and sometimes it can take a day or two before we’re able to get to the comments. I apologize for the delay.

      • Totally understand that. I just thought it was “moderated out” because it wasn’t showing up in my browser as “your comment is awaiting moderation” like they usually do on wordpress.

  7. I’ve never heard of avoiding garlic while breastfeeding. In fact, I was told that it HELPS in production of breast milk. It’s funny though. I’m on WIC and have been since about 3 months along (my little one is now 6 months) and a lot of the foods listed on here are given to me as a nursing mom. Peanut butter, beans, and a whole lot of dairy (2 lbs of cheese and 5 1/4 gallons of milk).

  8. Do not eat ol bay seasoning a restaurant put it on there tortilla chips my milk smelled sour for 4 days

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  1. [...] our post, “Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding,” we discussed some common triggers for a colicky baby. If your baby is fussy or has a [...]

  2. […] employ in those earliest weeks of breastfeeding that can help you to avoid some unneeded stress and tummy aggravation, which may indeed make it feel as though you have improved your breast […]

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