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The Must-Know List of Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

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When you first start breastfeeding, your main focus is LEARNING to breastfeed.

But did you know that like with pregnancy, there are foods that you shouldn’t eat or at least limit when you are breastfeeding?


And why is that you may ask?


Because there are some foods that can affect the baby in a negative way.

Anything you put in your body goes into your breastmilk and to the baby.


Some of them are dangerous to the baby while other foods can cause the baby to become more fussy.

So if you’re breastfeeding, I’d definitely look into what these are so you can avoid or limit them.


You can read more about this list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding below.


(This post may contain affiliate links which means that I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  You can read my full disclaimer policy here.)


List of Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Fish with High Levels of Mercury

Don’t get me wrong, fish has healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are wonderful for the baby’s brain development.

But seafood can be high in mercury which is a toxic substance that is harmful to babies, kids, and ourselves.


Being exposed to too much of it can lead to negative effects on the brain and nervous system.

Some high-mercury fish that should be avoided are:

  • Bigeye Tuna
  • King Mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Orange Roughy
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish



Drinking or eating things that contain caffeine may go to your nursing baby.

This would include coffee, energy drinks, tea, soft drinks, and even chocolate.


Though it is a small amount, newborns can’t absorb caffeine as quickly as we do.

So even a small amount can affect a breastfed baby.


Now I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning, but try not to consume large amounts of it.


Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine can cause the baby to have an increased heart rate, a harder time sleeping, irritability, upset stomach, and make them feel jittery.


The CDC suggests that a breastfeeding mom’s caffeine intake should be about 300 mg or less per day (about 2-3 cups of coffee) as it doesn’t typically give the baby jitters or cause fussiness.


You should also beware of the time you are consuming caffeine.

Some recommend drinking a caffeinated beverage either right after breastfeeding or waiting 3 hours after consuming caffeine to breastfeed again.



I love cooking with garlic and add it to lots of my dishes!

But did you know garlic has been said to actually flavor a mother’s breastmilk?


Some babies like this new flavor but others may not care for it.

This will obviously just depend on the baby!


But for babies who aren’t fond of the flavor may refuse to breastfeed.


Dairy Products

Some babies have sensitivities to dairy.

In fact, it’s one of the most common allergens for babies.


So when mom eats something with cow’s milk in it, the baby could end up getting an upset tummy (if they have a sensitivity to it).

Dairy can make babies gassy, cry, cause bellyaches, and even cause a rash.


I have heard so many stories of moms having this happen to them with their babies, including a family member of mine.


Her baby who was exclusively breastfed was horribly sensitive to dairy.

He cried constantly, had tummy pains, was gassy, and got a bad bumpy rash that caused their face to become very inflamed.



This continued until dairy was removed from the mother’s diet.


Gassy Foods

Just like how some foods can make us gassy, certain foods can make babies gassy too.

Now being gassy isn’t always a bad thing, but sometimes all that gas can cause tummy aches. 


Which can lead to an upset baby.

I’m sure we all can relate to eating “gassy” food and being bloated, laying sideways on the couch waiting for the gas pains to go away.


Here’s a list of gassy foods to avoid while breastfeeding:

  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage


Now, I’m not saying you can’t enjoy these foods and never eat them.

But if the baby is gassy, crying, and seems uncomfortable, it could be caused by those yummy brussel sprouts you ate earlier.


Spicy Foods

If you love hot sauce and spicy dishes, then this it something you should pay attention to.


Some babies are just fine with having a little spice to their meals.

But others may not react as well to it and hate it.


If you had a spicy meal and the baby seems a little out of sorts, that could be the cause.


Tomato Sauce

This isn’t normally a typical one that’s talked about, but I thought I would add it on here.

You see, when my baby was a newborn she would get horrible stomach aches when I ate it.


She was not the type of baby who cried a lot, so when she did I KNEW something was up.


One night after eating a tasty plate of spaghetti, she started crying for 30 minutes non-stop until she fell asleep.


This was NOT normal for her!


So I decided that I would try doing an elimination diet starting with tomato sauce.

As a couple of people in my family get upset tummies from it as well.


And after that, it never happened again.


Alcoholic Drinks

According to Kelly Mom, “Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) does not appear to be harmful to the nursing baby.  Many experts recommend against drinking more than 1-2 drinks per week.”.


But excessive alcohol drinking can affect a baby’s sleep patterns and early development.

Drinking alcohol can also inhibit mom’s letdown and decrease milk production.


It’s also recommended to wait 2-2 1/2 hours after having an alcoholic drink to breastfeed again.



Peppermint is a very well-known herb that can cause a decrease in milk supply.

Now peppermint won’t cause you or the baby harm if you take some, but since it can cause breast milk production issues, I’d say it’s best to avoid it.


If you’re a breastfeeding mother I would be sure to stay away from peppermint teas and peppermint essential oils.


Can I eat peanut butter while breastfeeding?

Peanuts are another one of those foods that lots of people are allergic to.

So it makes sense that moms may be concerned about whether or not it’s safe to eat while breastfeeding.


The good news is though that if you or a close family member does NOT have a peanut allergy, then peanut butter should be fine to eat while breastfeeding.

And restricting peanut butter and not eating it also does not prevent peanut allergies.


But if you are concerned about it or feel like the baby is developing a food allergy, then be sure to get ahold of your baby’s healthcare provider.


What are foods that I should be eating while breastfeeding?

Now that we’ve gone over what foods you should avoid while breastfeeding, let’s go over what foods you should be eating!


Some foods to try and incorporate into your diet are:

  • Leafy Greens
  • Whole Grains
  • Oatmeal
  • Fenugreek Seeds
  • Barley
  • Salmon


Not only do these foods contain health benefits for you and your baby but they are actually lactogenic foods meaning that they can help increase your milk supply.




As you can see there are only really a few foods that you should watch out for when you’re breastfeeding.

Most of them (except fish that is high in mercury) can still be eaten, but just in moderation.


Whether you choose to completely leave them out of your diet or just limit them, be sure to eat a variety of foods to give yourself a whole and healthy diet.


(Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, lactation consultant, or breastfeeding specialist.  I’m only a Mom who is going off of her own experiences and research.  If you’d like to know more you can read my full disclaimer policy here.)


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