Breast milk is the only source of nutrition for a newborn for six months and in order to raise a healthy baby, mommies must follow an all-round nutritious diet. However, there are some foods that nursing moms must avoid, as they can make their way into the breast milk and can cause discomfort or allergies to the baby, making him restless or gassy.
Caffeine increases alertness and wakefulness. Caffeine is highly addictive, with visible side effects upon withdrawal, including headaches and extreme lethargy. In fact consuming caffeine during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight, smaller head size and possible DNA inhibition. Consumption of caffeine is not advisable even during breastfeeding. Consumption of foods that contain caffeine (such as chocolate) should only be taken in moderation.
Why to Avoid: While a little amount of caffeine is fine it’s crucial to understand that caffeine can work its way into your breast milk. An infant’s body isn’t ready to break down caffeine as easily as an adult’s body.
What’s the Alternative: Now that you’re really sleep deprived, we know much you miss coffee. Fresh apple juice when you wake up, helps to give same kind of caffeine kick, but in a healthy way. Apples also help to open up neural pathways, and the fructose stimulates the metabolism to produce energy. Stretching and light exercise in the morning sends oxygen rich cells to the muscles and the brain, thus helping you stay alert and focused.
Fish has essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and minerals like iron. But there are certain fish such as tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, swordfish, king mackerel and shark that have very high levels of mercury and should be avoided.
Why to Avoid: Mercury is an element that can accumulate in oceans and lakes and get converted into methylmercury that can be found in most fish in some amounts. When present in high quantities, methyl mercury can be dangerous for the nervous system. Due to their high mercury levels, tile fish from the Gulf of Mexico, swordfish, king mackerel and shark should be avoided while pregnant or breastfeeding.
What’s the Alternative: If you’re consuming fish, opt for catfish, salmon or tuna. However, make sure you do not consume it more than twice a week. Tofu is a great vegetarian alternative to fish. It comes loaded with the goodness of omega-3 fatty acids and proteins. Before cooking tofu, cover it with olive oil and garner it with onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika to mimic the taste and texture of fish.
If you thought that peppermint tea will be a great alternative to coffee, you were wrong. . Doctors suggest avoiding peppermint in any form until you wean your baby.
Why to Avoid: Consuming large amounts of peppermint or sage, in any form, can at times dry up the breast milk, causing the supply to drop.
What’s the Alternative: Try drinking tulsi or green tea which has many other health benefits as well.
Dairy is one of the most controversial foods to consume during nursing. If you find your baby fussy, sleepless and restless particularly after being breastfed or has eczema or other skin problems, then you try to avoid dairy.Removing dairy altogether from your diet can be difficult, but you can try to go dairy-free for a few weeks to rule out the possibility of dairy allergy.
Why to Avoid: Certain babies are initially quite intolerant to cow’s milk and other milk products. Such babies generally show signs of a soy allergy too.
What’s the Alternative: If you cannot avoid dairy altogether, opt for organic ranges of high-fat dairy as they are produced free of growth hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, or pesticides. You can also try goat milk to see if it works out better.
Alcohol has remained one of the most problematic substances for growing babies and you should be avoiding it during breastfeeding as well.
Why to Avoid: Alcohol can easily makes its way from mom to baby through breast milk, thus disturbing baby’s neurological development. Alcohol can also inhibit release of milk to the nipple area.
What’s the Alternative: Researches have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation during nursing may not harm your baby. Breastfeeding moms can consume up to one glass of beer or wine once or twice a week, but any amount higher than that can be harmful for the newborn.
Garlic is an essential ingredient in the Indian cuisine and avoiding it altogether can be difficult. However, you can limit its consumption according to your baby’s responses. While some babies like it while others just cannot tolerate it at all.
Why to Avoid: Garlic has a pungent smell that can mix into your breastfeed. If you find your baby uncomfortable and restless after nursing, avoid consuming garlic.
What’s the Alternative: Consume foods containing garlic after you have just finished breastfeeding. Avoid direct or raw consumption of garlic.
Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C which is needed by the baby for healthy bone and teeth development. However, citrus fruits also contain high acidic content that can irritate your little one’s stomach.
Why to Avoid: Since newborn babies have an immature gastrointestinal tract, they are not able to digest acidic components. Consumption of such foods through mother’s milk can often leads to diaper rash, fussiness, gas, spitting up in newborn babies.
What’s the Alternative: You can swap citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and more with other vitamin C-rich foods like leafy greens, papaya, pineapple, strawberries or mango.
If you’ve observed a history of peanut allergies running in your family, then you must avoid this food altogether until you wean off your baby. The allergic proteins contained in peanuts could mix into your breast milk and then pass on to the baby.
Why to Avoid: Consumption of peanuts through breast milk might lead to wheezing, rashes or hives in your baby. This might be triggered by consumption of even a few nuts.
Studies have shown that there is an increased risk of developing a lifelong peanut allergy for children exposed to peanuts at a young age.
What’s the Alternative: You can substitute peanuts with other nuts like cashews, almonds or pistachios.
Also Read: Healthy diet plan for breastfeeding moms
If there is an allergy to eggs in your immediate family, then avoid consuming them until you wean off your baby. Egg allergies, generally in the form of sensitivity to egg whites, are pretty common and can lead to rashes, vomiting, breathing difficulty, asthma, and abdominal cramps in babies.
Why to Avoid: Avoid consuming raw eggs while breastfeeding as it can increase the threat of salmonella infections, which can trigger symptoms like diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea and fever in your baby.
What’s the Alternative: Eggs contain a lot of proteins and vitamins that can also be found in lentils, leafy greens, beans, beetroot, bananas and nuts.
While some babies get bothered by spicy & fried foods, others are perfectly okay with them. Some babies are so sensitive that even a tinge of pepper in mommy’s breast milk can make them fussy for a long time.
Why to Avoid: Spicy foods can pass into the breast milk and cause your baby to vomit, fuss, develop gas.
What’s the Alternative: Reduce the spices in your food to a negligible amount so that your little one does not face any discomfort. Consume such food after breastfeeding your baby.
Wheat often passes into the mother’s breast milk, thus causing some babies to fuss. The best way to find out if your baby is allergic to wheat is by eliminating it from the diet if you find your baby in discomfort right after being breastfed.
Why to Avoid: Some babies have gluten intolerance which leads to discomforts like bloody stools, aching tummy, and fussiness. It’s best to avoid such foods and re-introduce them later on.
What’s the Alternative: Swap wheat with other cereals like barley, cornflakes, millet or flaked rice.
This might also interest you: Breastfeeding Guide for the first month of baby
If you observe your baby troublesome after being breastfed, then it’s probably something you’ve eaten two to six hours prior to feeding. The most problematic foods for babies include cow’s milk, eggs, wheat and soy. Speak to a paediatrician as soon as you notice any allergies or discomforts in your baby. Also, get in touch with a nutritionist for advice on your diet and nutritional supplements.
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