Healthy eating while feeding your baby

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Healthy eating while feeding your baby

Healthy eating while feeding your baby

Having a new baby can be wonderful but it can also be very tiring. Eating well and looking after yourself will help keep you in the best shape to care for your new baby.

Try to:

  • Eat at least 5 portions of variety of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Base meals on starchy carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or others. Choose wholegrain or higher fibre varieties where possible, and leave the skins on potatoes. Including these foods in your diet will help prevent constipation
  • Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as calcium-fortified soya drinks and yogurts). Choose lower fat and lower sugar options.
  • Have some beans and other pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins. Aim for at least two portions of fish every week – one of which should be oily, such as salmon or mackerel (see Fish and breastfeeding below).
  • Choose unsaturated oils such as rapeseed or olive oil, and spreads made from these, and consume in small amounts.
  • If you choose to include foods or drinks high in fat, salt and sugars, such as biscuits, cakes, pastries and salty snacks, have them less often and in small amounts.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the expert body that advises the European Union on food and nutrition, recommends that breastfeeding women drink more fluid a day - around 10-12 glasses in total. Make sure that you have a drink beside you when you are breastfeeding. Water is a good choice, and why not have some low fat milk, or some diluted pure fruit juice.

Fish and breastfeeding

Including fish in your diet is important for you and your baby’s health. It is a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals, as well as providing essential omega-3 fats. But, while you are breastfeeding:

  • don’t eat more than one portion of shark, swordfish or marlin a week (this advice is the same for all adults)
  • don’t eat more than two portions of oily fish a week 

You don’t need to limit the amount of white fish or canned tuna you eat while you’re breastfeeding, as long as it’s part of a healthy, varied diet.

Peanuts and breastfeeding

Peanuts or foods containing peanuts, such as peanut butter, can be included as part of a healthy, varied diet while breastfeeding – unless, of course, you are allergic to them. Avoiding peanuts or other allergenic foods (e.g. hen's egg or wheat) while breastfeeding does not reduce your baby’s chances of developing an allergy and is not recommended.

However, if you have a family history of food allergy or other allergic conditions, then your baby may be at higher risk of developing an allergy, and you may wish to discuss this further with your GP, midwife or health visitor.

Information reviewed November 2016

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Please note that advice provided on our website about nutrition and health is general in nature. We do not provide any personal advice on prevention, treatment and management for patients or their family members.

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