What Not to Eat While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world. New moms need to know what not to eat while breastfeeding to keep their babies safe.

But there are some foods that you should avoid while breastfeeding, or at least limit your intake if you want to keep your baby safe. Foods like alcohol, caffeine can be dangerous for babies who are still developing their little bodies and brains.

Here is a list to help new parents understand which foods they need to watch out for when breastfeeding so that both mommy and baby remain healthy throughout the process!

Foods to Limit or Avoid While Breastfeeding

1. Fish high in mercury

Some moms like to enjoy fish in their diet. However, one particular food that is fish and seafood can also be high in mercury, a metal that can be toxic — especially in infants and kids, who are more sensitive to mercury poisoning.

Acute exposure to high quantities of mercury can permanently damage your infant’s central nervous system. This can cause delays in:

  • cognition
  • fine motor skills
  • speech development

Fish that are high in mercery:

  • swordfish
  • bigeye tuna
  • king mackerel
  • marlin
  • shark
  • tilefish
  • orange roughy

If you are wanting to add omega-3 fatty acids without eating high-mercury fish, a plant-based supplement is an easy way to get the same DHA and EPA straight from the source without the mercury.

2. Some herbal supplements

Lots of moms use herbal supplements to boost their milk supply but there are some things to consider.

Most herbal supplements have not been studied for their safety during breastfeeding, it is advised to consult with your doctor before using any supplements or herbal teas.

3. Caffeine

As a tired mom being woken up multiple times at night, it can be tempting to have more coffee than recommended but it’s important to limit your caffeine consumption.

While most experts say no caffeine during breastfeeding is best, some studies have shown that small amounts of certain sources of caffeine are usually fine. So be sure to keep your caffeine intake low while you are breastfeeding.

According to the CDC, women who are breastfeeding should consume no more than 300 mg of caffeine each day, which is equivalent to two or three cups of coffee.

Women who are breastfeeding, on the other hand, should avoid energy drinks since they often include a high amount of caffeine.

However, it’s important to remember everything in moderation, and being a mom is hard enough without adding jitters from too much coffee!

4. Alcohol

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the safest option is to completely avoid alcohol when you are breastfeeding.

However, an occasional drink after a long day may be fine as your body metabolizes alcohol quickly. The amount of alcohol in breast milk reaches its greatest 30–60 minutes after your drink. Furthermore, alcohol can remain in your body for up to 2–3 hours. This is only for one drink. It takes longer to go away, the more alcohol you consume.

For more on alcohol and breastfeeding, read When is it Safe to Drink After Breastfeeding

5. Highly processed foods

It’s important to eat a healthy diet to meet all the nutritional demands of breastfeeding.

As highly processed meals are often high in calories, unsaturated fats, and added sugars but low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, they should be consumed as little as possible.

While preliminary research has shown that a mother’s diet while breastfeeding may shape her child’s eating habits later in life, further study is required.

There’s a lot of debate about whether frequent exposure to fatty, sugary meals as an infant might result in less healthy eating habits and weight problems later on.


Garlic does flavor breast milk, and some claim it has an unpleasant taste. However, the flavor of garlic when breastfeeding is debatable.

Peppermint, Parsley, & Sage

Herbs like peppermint, parsley, and sage are anti-galactagogues, which means they’ve been found to reduce breast milk production in high dosages.

If you notice a drop in your milk supply after eating a lot of peppermint, parsley, or sage, avoid it while breastfeeding for a while.

Spicy foods

If you ate spicy foods throughout your pregnancy, your baby is conditioned to those tastes. Some babies are unaffected by spicy food. Others who are less used to the flavor may find it unpalatable. Just avoid having an extreme spicy dinner out of the blue.

If you notice that your baby isn’t reacting well to the new spicy foods, just tone it down a bit in future meals.


It’s not very often that there is an issue. However, pay attention to how your baby is doing. If your infant has skin issues, difficulties breathing after breastfeeding, or any other symptoms, see your doctor.


While chai or earl grey may be as refreshing as your cup of tea, it has certain drawbacks. It contains caffeine, which can interfere with sleep and baby’s sleep.

Tea has a chemical in it that can prevent your body from absorbing iron, an important mineral for energy. If you’re drinking hot or iced tea while eating meals high in iron, such as lean meat, dark, leafy vegetables, and fortified breakfast cereals, avoid sipping.

Eggs, Peanuts, and Nuts

What if you’re not allergic yet want to prevent your kid from getting one? At the moment, there’s no evidence that by eliminating particular foods, you can achieve this. Studies show that when these foods are introduced in the first year that they are less likely to develop an allergy to them. Although, the skin condition eczema is less likely to appear if certain foods are avoided. Ask your pediatrician or health care provider for advice on this.

Sugary Drinks

Breastfeeding will make you really thirsty. Focus on drinking water every time you breastfeed or pump. Sodas and other sugary drinks are a lot of extra calories without any nutrients.

Gassy Foods

Common foods that could cause gas are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts

Burping, bloating, and passing gas are typical. If your baby is gassy or has colic, avoid them for a few weeks to see if it helps.

Chocolate and Coffee

Both chocolate and coffee have caffeine in them. You’ll also find it in energy drinks and soda. If you need coffee to start your day, limit yourself to 2-3 cups per day. Or you could switch to decaf and limit your intake of chocolate.



Foods to Limit While Breastfeeding: Strong Flavors?

Many babies seem to enjoy a range of breast milk flavors, even if some strongly flavored foods may alter the flavor of your milk.

If these flavors were a dominant part of your diet while pregnant, the baby is already used to these flavors from when they are in the womb.

Foods to Limit While Breastfeeding: Food Allergens?

Can my baby have a food allergy to something I eat?

Even if you eat allergenic foods like peanuts, fish, shellfish, and eggs, your baby’s breast milk is extremely unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

If your baby has allergy symptoms (such as eczema or a rash, vomiting, or diarrhea), they may be caused by something he comes into regular contacts with, such as soap, pet dander, dust, pollen, or foods he consumes himself once he begins solids.

A baby can be allergic to food allergens such as cow’s milk protein in the mother’s diet in rare cases. If you’re concerned about a food allergy your baby has from your breastmilk, talk to your pediatrician. Allergic reactions in breastfed babies are generally treated by eliminating the allergenic food from your diet entirely.

How to tell if your diet is affecting your baby

Every newborn is different. However, there are several indications that your baby’s diet is influencing them. Here are some warning signals that your baby’s diet might be affecting them:

  • bloody stools
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • eczema
  • hives
  • constipation
  • wheezing
  • congestion
  • abnormal fussiness
  • excessive gas
  • anaphylaxis — this is very rare, but It’s critical to contact a doctor right away if your baby experiences this.

What should I do if I think a food I eat is bothering my baby?

If you eat something and your nursing baby becomes fussy, gassy, or sleepless shortyly after, speak with his or her doctor to ensure it isn’t anything else. The doctor may advise eliminating the food from your diet for a week or more before reintroducing it to determine whether there is a continued impact.

What to watch your baby for while you’re breastfeeding

Newborns are frequently fussy or gassy, and moms wonder if something they’ve eaten is causing the problem. It’s more likely that it isn’t the case. Only about 1% of newborns are having an allergic reaction to foods that pass through the mother’s breast milk. The most prevalent allergy triggers in cow’s milk, egg, corn, and soy protein in the diets of nursing moms.

If you’re breastfeeding, observe your baby for signs of an allergic reaction. This can manifest as excessive vomiting, a rash, blood in the stools, or persistent congestion if your child is sensitive to something in your milk.

After a meal, if your baby has a food intolerance, you’re likely to see symptoms such as fussiness or crying, reflux, projectile stools, and bringing his knees up to his chest.

Always seek advice from a health care professional if you are seeing any of these symptoms in your baby.

Is something I’m eating disagreeing with my baby?

You can always keep a food diary. You may discover patterns if you write down everything you eat and drink, as well as any symptoms your baby has, and compare it to previous entries.

Will eliminating a food because it bothers my baby affect my nutrition?

If avoiding a certain food might create a nutritional imbalance (for example, if you eliminate all dairy products because your baby has a cow’s milk sensitivity), see your doctor about seeing a nutritionist for suggestions on replacing other foods or taking nutritional supplements.

To help pass along critical nutrients as well as fill any gaps in your own diet, continue taking your prenatal vitamin, while you continue to breastfeed.

What should you eat if you’re breastfeeding?

You don’t need to follow a particular diet in order to produce enough milk, but your body will require fuel in order to create breast milk.

It’s important to eat a variety of foods, focused on abundance, and a variety of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.

Do I need to take any breastfeeding vitamins?

It is recommended to continue taking your prenatal vitamin while you are breastfeeding.

Do I need extra calories when breastfeeding?

Women who are nursing need about 500 more calories each day than non-lactating women. Some people may require more, while others may require less.

Can I diet during breastfeeding?

You can diet while you are breastfeeding as long as it isn’t a restrictive diet and dramatically dropping calories that your body needs to support your breast milk production.

For a more in-depth look on dieting while breastfeeding be sure to read Can You Diet While Breastfeeding

How can I find time to prepare healthy food?

It can be hard as a new mom to find time to prepare healthy foods for your family. While you are still recovering from having your baby, be sure to ask family and friends to bring over meals.

It’s also helpful to prep a bunch of meals and store them in your freezer to have on hand for after you have your baby.

Do I need to drink more water when breastfeeding?

It is recommended to drink more water while breastfeeding. Because breastfeeding can cause you to become dehydrated, it’s important to drink plenty of water. Every person should aim for six to eight glasses of liquid each day, and even more while you are breastfeeding.

Just be sure to drink a glass of water every time you sit down to breastfeed your baby or pump your milk.

If I eat a wide range of foods, will my baby be a less fussy eater?

Your breast milk might include the taste of the meals you consume. As a result, exposing your baby to various tastes via breastfeeding and eating a varied diet may help him appreciate those tastes as he gets older.

Will being vegetarian effect my breast milk?

You can eat whatever you want if you meet the essential nutritional standards – carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

While breastfeeding, women who are vegetarian or vegan should ensure that they get enough vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids by eating foods or supplements.

If you’re on a special diet, such as vegetarianism, veganism, macrobiotics, or another diet, be sure you talk to your doctor about it to be sure you’re getting all of the nutrients your baby and yourself require.

I have breastfed two of my three babies while being on a whole food plant-based diet and we have all thrived from all of the nutritional benefits it has to offer.

Do you have to avoid the same foods from pregnancy when you are breastfeeding?

All those foods that you had to avoid while pregnant such as raw fish, cold cuts, and unpasteurized soft cheeses are all okay to eat while you are breastfeeding.

You may also have a glass of wine on occasion. For more on drinking while breastfeeding be sure to read Is it Safe to Breastfeeding After Drinking?

Healthy diet for the new moms

A nutritious diet is advised for all women and has numerous advantages for new mothers. A dietary pattern is formed by choosing a variety of healthy foods for the whole family.

Be sure to fill your plate with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. As well as lean proteins such as beans and legumes. Make sure to add healthy fats like chia seeds and nut butters.

For a more in-depth look at eating healthy while breastfeeding, be sure to read the 9 Best Breastfeeding Tips on Producing More Milk


The most important thing a breastfeeding mother can do for her baby is to eat a well-balanced diet while breastfeeding. However, it’s not always easy to find the time or energy to prepare healthy food. That’s why we recommend preparing a bunch of meals and storing them in your freezer before you give birth so that family members who are eager to help out bring over delicious home-cooked dinners right away. Be sure to drink eight glasses of water every day or more while breastfeeding too because this will keep dehydration at bay and ensure that both mommy and baby stay hydrated!

About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.