A Healthy Diet for Mom and Baby

November 8, 2011

Many moms wonder how they should adjust their diet while breastfeeding. In most cases, a mom with healthy eating habits won’t have to make dramatic changes, but here are some helpful tips to ensure mom and baby are getting the nutrition they need.

Don’t Count Calories

First and foremost, don’t count calories. Typically, a breastfeeding mother needs an additional 300 – 500 calories per day, so you may notice an increase in your appetite. Just listen to your body. Your hunger reflex is the best way to determine how much food you and your baby need. Don’t worry, those extra calories while breastfeeding are meant to plump up your baby’s belly, not yours.

Stay Hydrated & Avoid Caffeine

Make sure you stay hydrated and avoid too much caffeine while breastfeeding. Your body needs approximately 16 cups of water per day, so drink up! There’s no need to force yourself to drink fluids, but make sure your drinking enough to quench your thirst.  If you’re in desperate need of a little caffeine, just make sure you limit it to 300 mg per day (about a 12 oz cup of coffee).

Enjoy All the Food Groups

Eating a variety of foods while breastfeeding is a great way to ensure you are getting the mix of nutrients you and your little one need. The variety of foods you eat now may even broaden your child’s food preferences in the future. Also, a balanced diet with carbohydrates, protein, and fat will keep you feeling full and energized all day. Try incorporating more complex carbs like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods will provide more long-lasting energy. Besides, we all know moms need all the energy they can get.

Eat Cold-Water Fish

A great way to mix up your diet is to include a variety of cold-water fish. These fish are high in DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, which yield great health benefits for mom and baby. These vitamins are a key component of an infant’s brain and eye development. Also, DHA can help reduce postpartum depression among breastfeeding mothers.

Be Aware of Food Allergies

In rare cases, breastfed babies develop a food allergy or sensitivity. You may notice your child is particularly gassy or uncomfortable after eating certain foods. If so, you should eliminate those foods from your diet. If your baby has a food allergy, you may notice a rash or hives, wheezing, or green stools with mucus.

Supplements Aren’t Necessary

In general, if a mother maintains a healthy diet, vitamin supplements are not considered necessary. However, there’s no harm in continuing to take your prenatal vitamins for a few months after birth. Then you can consider switching to a regular multivitamin. You can speak with your doctor about additional supplements if you have a restricted diet or are concerned about a deficiency.

How do you maintain a healthy diet while breastfeeding? Please share in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “A Healthy Diet for Mom and Baby

  1. My peditrician told me I needed more fats in my diet and recomended ice cream and sugary stuff. Is there a good alternative to those besides nuts and such? He seems to gain weight when I eat ice cream but so do I. How do I loose the 20+ pounds of baby weight yet still get enough nutrients to my baby?

  2. I found that eating a well balanced diet as I had primarily done anyway was best for me and my babies. I didn’t restrict my tea or desserts which I always had daily but in moderation. As a rule of thumb, do everything in moderation! Living by this rule of thumb allowed me to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight after each of my four babies within four weeks!

  3. How can you tell if LO has a rash/hives caused by an allergy or if it is something else like heat rash? Also noticed a change in baby’s stools around baby’s 4 month. More mucus , less “poppy seeds” in the stool than before. Baby started teething , so this may be cause for the change, buts it’s hard to tell for sure!

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