Different cultures and individuals believe different foods may harm a breastfed baby. Some women believe spicy foods will harm their baby, while other moms think that eating garlic or chocolate causes colic. Everyone says different, but if it helps, there are no scientific studies that show certain foods are dangerous to the health of your baby.
To feed your baby the healthiest breast milk possible, you need to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid, or consume in moderation, foods that are high in calories and low in nutrient value such as chips, soda and sweets. Drink plenty of fluids to help maintain your milk supply (1a).
If you have a family history of allergies, your baby may show signs of sensitivity to certain foods. If you suspect your baby may be allergic to a food you are eating, avoid that food for a few days then try eating a small amount. If his symptoms return, avoid that food while you are breastfeeding. A study in the journal Clinical Pediatrics reports breastfeeding actually helps reduce allergies in children up to the age of 15 (1b).
Some women believe drinking beer helps increase their milk supply. This is a myth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding alcohol during breastfeeding. Alcohol does pass through mother’s milk. If you do decide to drink alcohol, the academy suggests drinking a small amount right after a feeding so your body has time to get rid of as much alcohol as possible before you nurse again. A study in the journal Pediatrics showed infants who were exposed to alcohol in breast milk slept less (1c).
Drinking less than 25 oz. of coffee per day shouldn’t cause any problems for a breastfed baby. Remember, though, caffeine can be found in some sodas, chocolate and some medications. If you are consuming these foods or medications along with coffee, your baby may be getting too much caffeine (1d).
Some babies may be more sensitive than others to certain flavors, spices or gassy foods such as beans, broccoli or cauliflower. If your baby is fussy, irritable or can’t sleep after you eat certain foods, it’s best to avoid them while you are breastfeeding. This will make you and your baby happier and more comfortable.