Educational Resources

Foods to avoid

Many mothers are told to avoid certain foods while nursing, such as gassy foods (beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.), spicy foods (onion, garlic, chili pepper, etc.) and chocolate. There is no evidence that these foods, when eaten in moderation, cause problems in most breastfed babies.

In babies with a strong family history of allergies, it is possible that traces of food found in the motherís milk, such as cow milk, eggs, wheat, fish or citrus foods, could cause a reaction in the baby. The motherís diet will need to be adjusted only if the baby develops allergic symptoms. If baby is sensitive to cow milk products the mother eats or drinks, the motherís calcium needs can be met in other ways. Foods that contain calcium include bok choy, kale, broccoli, watercress, oranges, salmon, turnip greens, almonds, and sardines. It is sensible to eat all foods in moderation and to avoid bingeing on any one food to prevent possible reactions in the baby.

Alcohol use should be limited since it may interfere with the motherís let-down. A recent study suggests that babies consume less motherís milk after the mother has consumed alcohol. An occasional alcoholic drink should pose no problems, but regular or excessive use could be harmful and should be avoided. Any mother who drinks alcohol regularly or to excess poses a risk to her baby.

Smoking is discouraged because excessive nicotine can interfere with the let-down reflex and result in a low milk supply. In one study, the babies of smoking mothers had an average weight gain significantly less than babies of nonsmokers. Another study showed that human milk provides protection against respiratory disease to breastfeeding babies whose mothers smoke. If mother cannot give up cigarettes, she should consider low-nicotine cigarettes, limit cigarettes to fewer than ten per day and smoke in a room away from the baby since the danger of passive smoke is significant.

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This educational material is provided courtesy of Ameda Egnell.  Permission to use and/or reproduce this copyrighted material has been granted by the distributor, Hollister Incorporated.