A woman prepares food to help her breastfeeding diet.

Foods to avoid while breastfeeding

Are you worried you’ll eat something that might cause your baby to be fussy or gassy after you breastfeed? If so, you’re not alone.

Rebecca Copeland, a dietitian at OSF HealthCare, gives advice on what foods to avoid while breastfeeding to prevent gas and other problems and what foods are best for breastfeeding.

Foods that increase milk supply

There aren’t any particular foods that are proven to boost milk production quickly for a breastfeeding mom. But a healthy diet and adequate sleep may contribute to good milk supply.

If you’re having trouble with milk production, it may be a sign that your baby doesn’t have a good latch . Breastfeeding is a supply and demand system. If your baby isn’t latched properly, they won’t get much milk out, which will tell your body it doesn’t need to make much milk.

Foods to avoid while breastfeeding

There’s no food that’s particularly off limits. But it’s important to limit or completely avoid the following:

Need advice about a fussy baby?

> Talk to your pediatrician

Alcohol: Not drinking alcohol is the safest option during breastfeeding. However, you can have a very small amount of alcohol while breastfeeding. You should wait a few hours between drinking alcohol and feeding your baby.

“Time it out so that you feed your baby right before you drink an alcoholic beverage, so that your body has enough time to flush out the alcohol before the next feeding. And limit your consumption to just one drink,” Rebecca said.

Caffeine: Caffeine and breastfeeding can be mixed but should be limited. Two to three cups of coffee, or 200-300 mg, per day is considered safe to consume while breastfeeding. Any more than that may give your baby gas, digestive troubles or keep them awake and fussy.

Fish: Fish is a good source of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but choose the fish you eat wisely. Try to avoid fish that may contain high levels of mercury because this will pass into breast milk. Fish such as shrimp, catfish, salmon or light canned tuna are the safest. Try to avoid swordfish, tile fish, shark or king mackerel.

Best foods to eat while breastfeeding

The breastfeeding mama’s guide to eating
1.	Fill your plate with all the foods you normally eat. 
Babies develop a taste for their cultural and ethnic taste in food by drinking mom’s breast milk.
2.	Get a good balance of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy.
Breast milk production is thanks to the mom’s blood supply, but what she puts in her stomach is what flavors her breast milk.
3.	Drink enough water to satisfy your thirst.
Sometimes drinking too much decreases milk production! 
Your diet might be affecting your baby if your baby:
•	Is crabby all the time
•	Has mucus or blood in their stool
•	Sounds congested 
•	Has eczema
Talk to your baby’s pediatrician if they’re experiencing any sensitivities. Foods to eat while breastfeeding are the same as what you would eat in a healthy diet.

MyPlate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives a good guideline: half of your plate should be fruits and veggies, a quarter should be whole grains, a quarter should be protein and finish it off with a dairy side, like milk or Greek yogurt,” Rebecca said.

Many foods are easy to grab for a quick meal and help you maintain your goal of good nutrition. Besides fruits and vegetables, cheese, yogurt, whole grain crackers or bread and hard-boiled eggs are all good choices.

Fussy, colicky, gassy baby

A baby’s digestive system isn’t fully developed, so a mom’s diet might make for a fussy baby, especially if they’re sensitive to that food.

You’ll know if your breast milk is upsetting baby if they are unusually gassy or fussy after eating. As you and your baby get acclimated to breastfeeding, you’ll learn what not to eat while breastfeeding if your baby reacts to a certain food or drink.

“If you notice your baby is fussy after you’ve eaten something new or different, try eliminating that from your diet for two weeks. After two weeks, eat that food again and see if your baby is fussy. If they are, that may mean they’re sensitive to something in that food,” Rebecca said.

Although rare, if your infant has a true food allergy, you should avoid that food as the proteins come through in your milk supply.

Your breast milk doesn’t exactly make your baby gassy.

“Preventing gas, fussiness and colic might take a bit of trial and error and eliminating and reintroducing certain foods and drinks into the mom’s diet,” Rebecca said.

Food allergies in breastfed babies

The eight common allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, fish and shellfish.

One of the most common food sensitivities among breastfed babies is dairy.

“There is a lot of hidden dairy in foods,” Rebecca said. “It takes a lot of reading labels.”

By law, food companies must label their product clearly if it contains milk.

Symptoms of dairy allergy in breastfed babies might include colic, abnormal colored stool (like black or green), excessive gas or rashy hives. If your baby has a dairy allergy and is fussy, you should stop eating dairy – including anything with cow’s milk and products with hidden dairy.

Most women who are breastfeeding can usually eat what they want as long as they have a good approach to eating, which means maintaining a well-balanced diet and eating snacks that are not heavily processed similar to how it was recommended to eat during pregnancy.

Finally, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If you’re experiencing thirst, you’re already a little low on fluids. Sometimes it helps if you bring something to drink with you when you sit to breastfeed your baby.

Last Updated: June 20, 2023

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About Author: Katie Faley

Katie Faley is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in English Studies. Before joining OSF HealthCare in 2021, she worked in magazine editing, digital marketing and freelance writing.
Katie is often found listening to ‘60s folk music, deciding on a new skill to learn, losing track of time in a library or spending time with her family and friends.

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Categories: Birth & Maternity