Breastfeeding will be the most rewarding experience for you and your baby, but it can also be a very challenging experience. Some babies just automatically latch on, others have to be encouraged and helped. What you eat and drink can affect your baby, so these are foods to avoid when breastfeeding.
The food you eat
What you take into your body will affect your baby. If you are used to a lot of caffeine that will affect your baby’s digestion and sleeping. Definitely NOT good. If you can’t or won’t cut out coffee then go the decaff route, it will be better for you and your baby.
- Caffeine can reach your baby through your breast milk and may keep them awake.
- Caffeine occurs naturally in lots of foods and drinks, including coffee, tea and chocolate. It’s also added to some soft drinks and energy drinks, as well as some cold and flu remedies.
- Caffeine is a stimulant and can make your baby restless.
- It’s a good idea for pregnant and breastfeeding women to restrict their caffeine intake to less than 200mg a day:
- 1 mug of filter coffee: 140mg
- 1 mug of instant coffee: 100mg
- 1 250ml can of energy drink: 80mg (larger cans may contain up to 160mg caffeine)
- 1 mug of tea: 75mg
- 1 50g plain chocolate bar: up to 50mg
- 1 cola drink (354mls): 40mg
Try decaffeinated tea and coffee, herbal teas, 100% fruit juice (but no more than one 150ml glass per day) or mineral water. Avoid energy drinks, which can be very high in caffeine.
How it can affect your baby
When you Need to Decrease your Chocolate or caffeine intake, or both
- Your baby becomes more active and alert than usual.
- Your baby becomes fussy, restless and struggles to sleep.
- Your baby seems to have runnier stools and wind.
- Diarrhea or green stools.
- Your baby refuses to nurse.
- Rash around the anus.
Some of those are extremes of course but can happen with a sensitive baby. It’s a good idea to consider giving up chocolate and/or caffeine if it does affect your baby. Otherwise, in the long run, you suffer with lack of sleep etc.
Of course, many babies will have no ill effects at all.
Painkillers & prescriptions
Before you consider taking anything at all, clear it with your doctor, health visitor or midwife. As previously stated much of what goes into your body will go through to your milk in varying amounts.
Foods that make you pass wind will very likely affect your baby in the same way. Except in the baby’s case it will cause pain too. Here are a few to start you off. If your baby suddenly has discomfort, crying more than usual;
All types of beans are good and healthy for you but being protein and especially fibre rich can give your baby wind and result in pain.
Babies can be sensitive to cow’s milk and you eating or drinking dairy can affect them too. A sensitivity or allergy to cow’s milk can cause other symptoms besides digestive upset. Including colic-like symptoms, eczema, wheezing, hives and/or a stuffy nose.
This does not necessarily mean they will be allergic to it later just that it affects them right now. A way to test this is to avoid all dairy products for at least a couple of weeks. If the symptoms go away, you may need to remove dairy from your diet until you stop breastfeeding.
Eggs can be an allergen for babies and small children though they often outgrow this.
These too are healthy but of course are rich in fibre so may upset your baby’s tummy.
Broccoli & Cabbage
Again both fibre rich so may cause wind and discomfort to your baby.
Can affect many adults, so of course can affect a baby too. If you like them to flavour your food, then just use less than usual.
This of course can cause wind but some more so than others. These are the main ones: apples, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, and the citrus family.
This is an obvious one because it is fizzy. But you may not consider it if you are used to drinking it on a regular basis. Plus the excess sugar or sweeteners is not good for a baby.
If you plan to drink alcohol, pump breast milk beforehand if you can.
- An occasional drink is unlikely to harm your breastfed baby.
- But never share a bed or sofa with your baby if you have drunk any alcohol. Doing this has a strong association with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- If you do intend to have a social drink, you could try avoiding breastfeeding for 2 to 3 hours for every drink you have to avoid exposing your baby to any alcohol in your milk.
What to do?
Of course, many babies aren’t affected by these. But if your baby has sudden crying bouts for no reason and drawing up their knees, which is a sign of tummy pain, it’s a good idea to consider what you are eating and drinking.
Always check with a doctor, midwife or nurse first if your baby is distressed and will not settle for prolonged periods of time.
After that it’s a good idea to keep a food diary and see when your baby cries the most. Make a note of that too, then do comparisons. Sometimes it can be as simple as cutting something out to return your baby to the happy little soul you are used to or want to have.
I would like to say yes absolutely but obviously that is not the case with every baby. Some babies do cry a lot or get colic for the first 3 months. Still worth trying to cut out foods or what you drink to check if that’s the cause.
Babies like routine and soon learn which is night and day through the routine. Especially if you have a gentle, calming, nighttime routine. Having a bath, changing clothes for sleepsuits etc. A cuddle while you talk or read a story. They soon learn it’s the longest sleep time when they have a routine.
The food you eat can certainly be an aggravating factor in your baby’s wellbeing. Making them cry and be hard to settle and even make them colicky so it is worth doing some detective work on the cause if this applies to your baby. Then definitely worth reducing or cutting out the trigger foods.
The most common offenders are those mentioned above, plus spicy, rich foods, alcohol and caffeine.
It’s really about being sensible with what you eat and drink, especially if want a happy baby. And let’s face it, a happy baby makes life easier all round and makes for a happier parents and home.