As Enfamil’s infant development expert, Pediatrician, and an IBCLC, new moms often share their concerns with me about their diet while breastfeeding. By and large, there aren’t many foods you need to avoid while breastfeeding or supplementing with formula. There are some foods you may want to consider avoiding to help avoid gassiness for you and baby, however there are a few foods you should only consider in moderation as you breastfeed.
Fish high in mercury
While fish is a great source of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, fish high in mercury can be a concern for breastfed babies. When breastfeeding, you should always be mindful of avoiding fish high in mercury including things like king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, or swordfish. We unfortunately do not know how much of these fish is considered a concerning level, which is why we recommend avoiding them while breastfeeding.
Herbal supplements not cleared by your lactation consultant
Some herbal supplements are safe to consume and can even help in breastfeeding, however many are not regulated by the FDA and should be avoided. The best course of action is to run any new supplements you want to try by your physician or lactation consultant.
The recommendation is to limit to one drink per day. There is no need to pump and dump your breast milk if you have one drink. Since every woman metabolizes alcohol differently, the concern is that we are unable to know how much alcohol is actually going to your bloodstream and to baby. So similar to the fish, we err on side of caution.
Caffeine can pass from mother to infant so try to limit this to 300mg max/day (equal to about 3 cups of coffee!).
Now if your baby has gas, colic, or reflux; you may find yourself searching online for elimination diets.
The truth is it depends on you and your baby.
If your baby has blood in their stool and/or excessive spit up or are not gaining weight, speak to your child’s clinician. Dairy products and soy may need to be eliminated because of a milk protein allergy.
When it comes to baby gas or colic, be mindful of not eliminating too much from your diet. I oftentimes meet mothers who are so stressed because of their baby’s gas cries that they go on severe elimination diets, their breast milk supply drops, and they stop breastfeeding. Monitor foods that make you gassy that are also making your baby gassy. Common culprits could include broccoli, cabbage, lentils, cauliflower, chocolate (because of caffeine in some chocolates), caffeine, citrus foods, or spicy foods. If you eat these and you notice a pattern that your baby gets fussy with the feedings that follow, trial elimination. But don’t broadly eliminate.
As you start trial elimination or if dieting becomes too difficult to do consistently, it may be worth considering supplementing with formula to ensure baby gets the essential nutrients. Look into a formula that promotes necessary building blocks and immune support for baby’s first year.
The most important thing for a breastfeeding or supplementing mom is for her to have adequate nutrition, as it is important for breast milk supply. If you have questions about the foods or supplements you are eating, always ask your child’s clinician or lactation consultant for more guidance.
For more insights on how to support your baby’s health and nutrition, check out more articles from Enfamil’s Village of Experts – a science-backed resource created by infant health experts and supported by the #1 trusted formula brand for brain building and immune support!