14 Healthy Foods To Feed Your Baby Before Age 1

14 Healthy Foods To Feed Your Baby Before Age 1

After I had my first child, I couldn’t wait until she started solids.

I was so excited to make homemade baby food, try out all the different flavor and texture combinations, and introduce them to her for the very first time.

I realized that one of my responsibilities as a parent was to feed her healthy food and raise her to be an adventurous eater.

Just as I was helping her brain development by reading to her and her gross motor development with tummy time, feeding her in a healthy way was helping her to develop her food preferences, expand her palette and set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.

In fact, research backs this up and shows the earlier and more frequent you offer healthy foods to your baby, the better.

According to a July 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition, infants who were exposed to a basic artichoke puree 10 times were more likely to accept and like it up to 3 months later than babies who were fed either a sweetened artichoke puree or an energy dense artichoke puree with more oil and salt.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend parents expose their babies to a wide variety of healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables starting at 6-months-old. As babies grow, it’s also important to introduce a variety of textures to encourage chewing.

Here, read on for a list of 15 healthy foods to feed your baby before age 1.

1. Spinach

To increase the chances that your baby will love vegetables—not just sweet types like butternut squash—start out with the dark, green leafy types like spinach.

A good source of protein and fiber, spinach is also rich in vitamins A, C, E, B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Since spinach is on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list for high levels of pesticide residues, consider purchasing organic spinach (fresh or frozen).

2. Nut butters


When my kids were babies just a few years ago, the advice from pediatricians was to avoid feeding babies nuts to avoid food allergies, but in 2017 all that changed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now say parents with babies who don’t have eczema or food allergies can “freely” introduce peanuts between 4 and 6 months of age.

I recommend you read all of the guidelines here and talk to your pediatrician before introducing nut butter—not nuts since they’re a choking hazard.

Once you get the green light however, nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter can be a healthy addition to your baby’s diet. 

They’re an excellent source of protein, high in omega-3 fatty acids which support brain and eye health, and vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.


3. Avocado


With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate, potassium, and magnesium, avocado is one of the best healthy foods to feed your baby.

Avocado is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which are vital for brain growth and development.

It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids, or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, an April 2015 study found.

4. Pumpkin


With 22 vitamins and minerals
including vitamins A, C, and E, plus fiber, pumpkin is a great first food for babies.

Pumpkin is also rich in lutein and beta-carotene, an antioxidant and plant pigment that gives the fruit its bright orange color.


5. Kiwi


Kiwi is a good source of fiber, vitamin E, potassium and copper, and an excellent source of vitamins C and K.

Since it’s sweet, juicy and soft, it also makes an ideal first food.

6. Eggs


Eggs are an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, protein and choline, an essential nutrient that is beneficial for heart health, brain and liver function and metabolism.

If you’re breastfeeding, feeding your baby eggs is also a great idea because the yolks are an excellent source of iron, and iron stores start to become depleted between 4 and 6 months old.

Eggs are delicious, have a delicate texture and are easy for babies to pick up. They’re also easily mixed into purees or meals with chunkier textures.


7. Carrots


Carrots get their bright orange color from beta-carotene, a carotenoid, or a type of antioxidant.

Carrots are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A, B6, C and K, and are a perfect first food for babies because they’re easily steamed and pureed.

Their mild, but slightly sweet taste is also favorable to most babies too.


8. Fish


According to a June 2019 study by the AAP, although fish and seafood are high in protein and other nutrients like vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids which kids need for their development, most aren’t eating enough.

Early introduction to fish and seafood may also improve a baby’s neurodevelopment, decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease and may even help prevent asthma and eczema, the AAP states.

Mercury exposure is always a concern, but salmon, and other types of low-mercury fish, are good choices.

Related: What Types of Fish Are Safe for Kids?


9. Broccoli

Broccoli is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, iron and potassium.

When starting solids, you can make a broccoli puree or if you’re doing baby-led weaning, steam the florets until they’re very soft.


10. Sweet potatoes


Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber—a good thing if your baby is constipated.

11. Liver


It may not be a food you’ve eaten, but liver is surprisingly one of the best healthy foods to feed your baby before age 1.

Iron is an excellent source of protein, iron, vitamins A, B6 and B12 and minerals like zinc and selenium.

If you decide to try it, it’s a good idea to purchase liver that’s from pasture-raised, organic fed animals and from a butcher you trust.

12. Apples


Apples are healthy and delicious and a first food for baby that’s easy to digest.

A good source of vitamin C and fiber, apples also have quercetin, a flavonoid that work as antioxidants and may improve brain function, a March 2017 study in the Journal Behavioural Brain Research suggests.

13. Blueberries


Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K and manganese.

Blueberries also make for a quick and easy finger food, or as a puree, you can blend them with other vegetables, mix them into oatmeal or drizzle on pancakes.


14. Beets


Rich in antioxidants, beets are a good source of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, fiber, folate, potassium and manganese.

Studies show beets may also be beneficial for brain health. According to an October 2015 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, drinking beetroot juice can improve cognitive performance.

While their bright red color will likely spark your baby’s interest, they can have a slightly bitter taste. To offset it, try roasting them, or mixing them with apples, pears, or sweet potatoes.

6 Unhealthy Habits To Avoid During Pregnancy

6 Unhealthy Habits To Avoid During Pregnancy

From the minute you find out you’re pregnant, your brain gets flooded with questions. From what to eat and what to avoid, how to deal with morning sickness and pregnancy constipation, and which types of activities are safe, there’s a lot to think about.

When it comes to having a healthy pregnancy, you already know that smoking, vaping, alcohol and certain medications are off limits. Yet there are other unhealthy habits to avoid during pregnancy because they could affect you and your baby’s health now and down the line. Here are 6.


1. Eating too much


According to a recent survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC), only 13 percent of people say they always stop eating when they’ve had enough, a trend which is affecting how many women start out their pregnancies.

In fact, only 45 percent of women have a normal weight when they become pregnant and new research suggests, when it comes to a woman’s risk for complications, pre-pregnancy weight is more important than pregnancy weight gain. 

During pregnancy, the “eat for two” mentality has also become an issue, with 47 percent of women who gain more than the recommended amount of weight.

Weight gain is associated with a higher risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, sleep apnea, preterm birth, birth defects, problems during labor and delivery and a higher risk for c-sections.

Research also suggests babies born to obese moms are more likely to be overweight themselves and may be at risk for poor developmental outcomes.

Excess weight gain can also make it harder to lose the weight after you give birth.

In the first trimester, you actually don’t need to consume extra calories. If you have a normal body mass index (BMI), an extra 340 calories a day during the second trimester and an extra 450 calories a day in the third trimester is appropriate, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If you’re carrying twins or multiples, or you’re underweight, overweight or obese when you become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calories for a healthy weight gain.

2. Not eating enough


It should come as no surprise that dieting is one of the unhealthy habits to avoid during pregnancy. 

While most women gain too much weight during pregnancy, a June 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 23 percent of women don’t gain enough to meet the recommendations.

Of course this could be due to hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), or extreme morning sickness, a loss of appetite or a medical condition, but some women may actually restrict their calories.

In fact, one survey found nearly 50 percent of pregnant women admitted to cutting calories, eliminating entire food groups and eating a lot of low-calorie and low-fat foods. A few women said they even turned to fasting, cleansing, purging and using diet pills and laxatives.

Low pregnancy weight gain is associated with delivering a premature baby, a baby who is too small and may have difficulty starting breastfeeding, and an increased risk for illness and developmental delays, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Low pregnancy weight gain can also increase a child’s risk for obesity.

According to a September 2014 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who had a normal body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy and gained less than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy were 63 percent more likely to have a child who was overweight or obese compared to women who gained the recommended amount of weight.

You might be worried about gaining too much pregnancy weight or losing the baby weight after you give birth but pregnancy isn’t the time to diet.

Be sure to check out the pregnancy weight gain recommendations which take into account your pre-pregnancy weight and if you’re having one baby or multiples.

 

3. Being sedentary


Between morning sickness, mood swings and exhaustion, heading to the gym may not be on the top of your list, but being sedentary—even sitting at a desk all day—can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.

According to a March 2017 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, pregnant women spend 50 percent of their time in sedentary behaviors, which is associated with higher levels of high cholesterol, inflammation and fetal macrosomia, or an infant who is born significantly larger—more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces.

Fetal macrosomia affects between 3 and 15 percent of all pregnancies and is associated with pregnancy complications and health risks to the baby.

Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia due to diabetes, having a previous infant with fetal macrosomia, pre-pregnancy weight and pregnancy weight gain are all risk factors.

Yet studies show women who stay active during pregnancy have a lower risk of excess weight gain and macrosomia and are less likely to have a caesarean section.

Establishing an exercise habit during pregnancy will also make it more likely that you’ll stick with it after you deliver—and for years to come.

 

See: 9 Amazing Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy [VIDEO]

 

4. Eating too much fake food and sugar


Cravings for salty and sweet foods may be in full force and although it’s probably OK to indulge occasionally if you have a normal, healthy pregnancy, avoiding fast food, processed, packaged foods and foods high in sugar is ideal.

Studies suggest a poor pregnancy diet can increase a child’s risk for allergies and preference for high fat, high sugar foods and affect behavior.

In fact, an October 2013 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found mothers who eat more unhealthy foods high in sugar, salt and refined carbohydrates have children with increased behavioral problems such as aggression and tantrums.

Eating a healthy pregnancy diet is critical to support your baby’s growth and development and prevent pregnancy complications.

5. Overdoing the coffee


If you’re like me and can’t talk to anyone in the morning until you’ve had a cup of coffee and then need several more throughout the day, breaking your addiction can be a tough one.

Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) say the research is unclear as to whether caffeine consumption increases the risk for miscarriage and preterm birth, they advise pregnant women to limit their overall caffeine consumption from all sources (coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) to 200 milligrams a day.

To put that in perspective, an 8-ounce regular coffee is 95 milligrams of caffeine so have two and you’re at your max for the day. For specific recommendations about caffeine, check out this chart on BabyCenter.com.

6. Letting stress get the best of you


Between your hormones, physical changes and discomforts, and concerns about your pregnancy, labor and delivery, and how your life may change, there’s a lot that can make you feel stressed out.

It’s well known that stress can affect your health, but during pregnancy, it’s even more important to pay attention to.

Not to give you more stress, but stress can lead to high blood pressure and studies suggest high levels of stress, anxiety and depression can increase the risk for pre-term birth.

Finding ways to better cope with stress can help you have a healthy, happy pregnancy and establish a healthy habit when you become a mom.

Carve out time for yourself every day to do deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or meditation, for example.

Go for a massage, take a yoga class, soak in the bath, listen to music, exercise and connect with friends.

For more tips, read 10 Tips For Being A Happy, Healthy Mom

If you’ve been feeling anxious, depressed or just not like yourself, seek help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Postpartum Support International are two resources.

15 Easy and Healthy Snacks for Breastfeeding Moms

15 Easy and Healthy Snacks for Breastfeeding Moms

When I was breastfeeding my kids, I was hungry All. The. Time.

Hungry as in: I’d eat my lunch while my daughter nursed—yes, on a plate with a fork.

Breastfeeding torches some serious calories (more on that later) so having easy and healthy snacks at the ready was also important for helping to satisfy my near-constant hunger.

In addition to a healthy diet, keeping a stash of quick, easy and healthy snacks you can grab whether you’re at home, work or on the go will stave off hunger, fuel your milk supply and give you plenty of energy despite all those sleepless nights.

How many calories does breastfeeding burn?


According to KellyMom.com, the amount of calories exclusively breastfeeding moms need depend on their weight, nutritional status and activity level.

On average, women should aim for an extra 300 to 500 calories above what they were consuming to maintain their pre-pregnancy weight. That would work out to 1 to 2 healthy snacks a day, but my advice is to eat for hunger and don’t worry too much about counting calories.

Learn more in this quick video.

Wondering what to eat? Here are 15 healthy snacks for breastfeeding to try.

1. Hard boiled eggs

Eggs are some of the best healthy snacks for breastfeeding because they’re loaded with protein—one large egg has nearly 30 grams. Protein satisfies hunger and gives you plenty of energy.

Hard boiled eggs are also quick and easy to make so you can boil a dozen and have enough for the week.

Pair an egg with some cut up raw veggies or whole grain crackers for a healthy and delicious snack.

 

2. Greek yogurt and fruit

High in protein, a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12, and rich in gut-friendly, immune-boosting probiotics, yogurt can be a healthy snack for breastfeeding.

When choosing a yogurt however, read labels and stick with brands that are low in sugar and made without artificial ingredients and preservatives.

With 17 grams of protein per serving, plain Greek yogurt is a great option. Add raspberries which are high in fiber, a dash of cinnamon and pure vanilla extract.

 

3. Kale chips

Green leafy vegetables are healthy because they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Kale, in particular, is a superfood for breastfeeding moms. A good source of fiber protein, folate, iron, it’s also high in vitamins A, C, K, B6, calcium and potassium.

Toss a cup of washed kale with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in the over for 10 to 15 minutes a 350 degrees.

 

4. Popcorn

Unlike refined carbohydrates, whole grain carbohydrates like those in popcorn have fiber to stave off hunger and keep your blood sugar steady.

Popcorn takes only a few minutes to make and you can stash it in your pantry anytime hunger strikes.

 

5. Apples and nut butter

Pair an apple with your favorite nut butter for the perfect combination of fiber and protein to satisfy your hunger—and your tastebuds—in between meals.

 

6. Avocado toast

Avocado is a superfood, especially for breastfeeding moms.

With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—the healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease later on in life.

A half cup has more than 2 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Spread some avocado on whole grain toast for a healthy, delicious and satisfying snack.

 

7. Edamame

Edamame (soybeans) are quick and easy and one of the best healthy snacks for breastfeeding.

An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame are also high in calcium.

You can purchase edamame fresh or frozen, but look for those that are already shelled to save time. 

 

8. Cheese, crackers and fruit

Pair cheddar or ricotta on whole grain crackers and top with sliced strawberries for a sweet and savory snack.

 

9. Chia seed pudding

An excellent source of protein, fiber and healthy fats, chia seeds are an energy-boosting superfood for breastfeeding.

Chia seed pudding takes only a few minutes to whip up in your blender and you can store a batch in your refrigerator or in individual mason jars for grab and go snacks. Top with fruit for even more fiber and a hint of sweetness.

 

10. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They’re a good source of magnesium, the “calming mineral,” and zinc known for immune boosting and wound healing properties.

They also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and mood—a good thing if you’re at risk for postpartum depression.

Three tablespoons of pumpkin seeds also offer a good combination of protein (9 grams) and fiber (2 grams).

Add pumpkin seeds to yogurt, on top of salad or eat them solo.

11. Green smoothie

One of the best ways to get several vegetables in at one time, especially when you’re short on time is to blend up a green smoothie.

To keep the sugar content low, stick with 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit. You can then add in chia seeds, protein powder or a nut butter, for example.

12. Homemade trail mix

Store-bought trail mix can be a quick and easy option, but read labels carefully since most are packed with salty nuts, a lot of high-sugar dried fruit, “yogurt” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Making your own trail mix only takes a few minutes and you get to control the ingredients. Combine almonds, sunflower seeds and raisins for a healthy and delicious breastfeeding snack.

13. Hummus and carrots

Another favorite snack combination of mine is raw baby carrots with hummus.

Carrots are a good source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, iron, potassium and fiber: 1/2 cup has nearly 3 grams

Pair carrots with hummus, which has nearly 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup, and you have a great snack.

14. No-bake energy bites

No-bake energy bites may take a few minutes to make, but they’re well worth it and you can make a large batch and freeze them.

Combine ingredients like rolled oats, bananas, dates, nut butter, raisins and seeds. Need a recipe? Here are 7.

15. Celery and tuna

Celery is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. It’s also high in fiber: a 1/2 cup has nearly 2 grams.

Add some tuna (or canned salmon) and you have a fiber and protein-packed snack.

Tomatoes and mozzarella

Tomatoes are a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, choline and fiber: one cup has more than 2 grams. Add some protein with sliced mozzarella cheese and you’ve got an easy and healthy snack.

8 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

8 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other about breastfeeding in general and I certainly didn’t give much thought to whether I’d breastfeed or not.

That all changed one day when I read a fact sheet about the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers. Within 5 minutes, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to breastfeed.”

Shortly thereafter, I read a book about breastfeeding and thought I’d be all set for when my child was born, but little did I know how much more there was to learn and how little I was prepared for it all.

The truth is that although breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t come so naturally to most women. It takes commitment, physical energy, mental fortitude, and flexibility for it to work. I should know—I breastfed two babies, each for a year.

There were other things no one told me about breastfeeding and I had to learn on my own. Here are 8.

1. You need help

After I gave birth to my first child, the lactation consultants in the hospital paid me a few visits. Everything seemed to be going well but I wasn’t quite sure if I was doing it right and it was also painful.

It wasn’t until they encouraged me to set up a private appointment with them a few days later that everything seemed to make sense and became a lot easier. They taught me how to relax, position my baby, and get the latch right.

Two years later when I had my second child, I once again met with a lactation consultant after I was discharged because I was worried my milk supply was low. After I fed my baby, the lactation consultant weighed her, talked to me about my concerns, and assured me everything was fine.

Whether it’s a lactation consultant, La Leche League, or another mom, breastfeeding moms need information, guidance, and support.


2. You might be hungry all the time

Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, moms who are exclusively breastfeeding need an extra 300-500 calories in their diets. Breastfeeding is a lot like a sweat session at the gym: your body is working hard to produce milk and you’re burning a lot of calories.

When I was breastfeeding, I felt like I was hungry all the time and eating non-stop. As a new mom of course, it was hard to find time to sit down to a meal so often times, I would multi-task and eat over my daughter as she breastfed.


3. You can pump too much

When your milk supply is low, lactation consultants tell you to pump but my milk supply wasn’t low and I actually think I pumped too much.

My first child was a good eater (she still is), and I had a really good milk supply and my breasts were constantly engorged especially in the early months of breastfeeding. Everyday, I’d effortlessly pump enough for a bottle so my husband could take a feeding at night. But when she started to sleep through the night, I continued to pump.

Eventually, I had a freezer full of milk for no apparent reason. Although I thought I was pumping to alleviate the engorgement, I think I inadvertently increased my milk supply.


4. It won’t be easy

Make no mistake: breastfeeding takes commitment and it’s a 24/7 job, especially in the beginning.

When my second child came along, breastfeeding became even more inconvenient because I had a toddler to keep up with too. I wanted desperately to follow the Baby Wise strategy which worked swimmingly for my first child, but wasn’t working out that well for my second who would cry the minute I put her in the bassinet and wanted to nurse all the time. With the help of the lactation consultant, I realized that wasn’t going to happen and some babies want to nurse—a lot.

I also started to feel like I could never get out of the house or go anywhere since I didn’t have breast milk reserves and I didn’t want to feed my daughter formula unless it was necessary—like the time I had a cat scan and couldn’t breastfeed.

5. You might be up against other challenges

While I was breastfeeding, I had postpartum depression (something I wasn’t diagnosed with until much later), I was dealing with Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER), and I had a bout with mastitis.

I also made the decision of having my second child’s frenulum clipped because she had a slight tongue-tie which made breastfeeding painful. Although I knew it had to be done if I was going to continue breastfeeding, watching her cry, and the doctor walk in and out of the room in 5 minutes, was tough. When I checked out and was told said procedure was $500, I nearly cried myself.

Of course, there was also work, managing my household and everything else life throws at you, which makes breastfeeding that much more challenging.


6. You won’t need a nursing cover for long

With my first child, I covered up while I breastfed and even went into a separate room when we had guests over or were invited to someone else’s house.

When you’re whipping out your breasts every few hours, however, that practice quickly fades. Soon enough, I breastfed in front of family, friends, and in public.

Come baby #2 and there was nothing to hide. In fact, eight weeks after giving birth, I found myself in the bridal suite for a family wedding pumping in a cocktail dress while my husband guarded the door.


7.  Sex gets interesting

Due to low levels of estrogen, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. If/when you do have the big ‘O,’ your breasts can leak spray everywhere thanks to oxytocin, the hormone responsible for both milk letdown and orgasm.

I’m thankful to have a husband who could care less and who finds the humor in almost any situation, but feeling like I had lost all control of my body was an understatement.


8. You might have regret or feel grateful

The definition of breastfeeding success or achieving breastfeeding goals looks different for each woman. We’re all unique, have different challenges, and have varying beliefs and views about breastfeeding. There are no hard and fast rules: what works for you may not work for another mom.

For me, I felt grateful to be able to have breastfed both babies for as long as I did. For working moms who have to travel to an office, travel for work, clock hours or don’t have a traditional office like a friend of mine who pumped in her car in NYC garages in between meetings with clients, breastfeeding can be downright impossible.

Despite many challenges, I felt accomplished and proud that I stuck with it and gave my children what I believe is the best start in life.

Do I wish I would have been more prepared, had more support, and known what breastfeeding would really be like? Sure. But when it comes to parenting, you’re never really prepared, you make a ton of mistakes, and you learn as you go along. Ignorance is bliss.

 

Are there things you wish you would have known before you started to breastfeed? Drop your thoughts in the comments.

9 Food Rules For Breastfeeding

9 Food Rules For Breastfeeding

You already know that breastfeeding is a healthy choice for you and your baby, but what you might wonder about are things like what foods you should eat and avoid, how many calories you should be getting, and if you can drink coffee and alcohol.

What may surprise you is that there aren’t any hard and fast food rules for breastfeeding. In fact, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy your diet is, your baby will still get what he needs.

Nevertheless, eating enough calories, the right types of foods and getting key nutrients in your diet will give you the energy to keep up your milk supply, keep up with caring for your baby, and support your overall health and wellness.

Here are 9 food rules for breastfeeding to consider.

Rule #1: Don’t diet

Perhaps one of the most important food rules for breastfeeding is to avoid restricting calories. Although you might be ready to lose the baby weight, dieting could affect your milk supply and deplete your energy levels.

If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need an extra 450 to 500 calories a day to support your milk supply so make a point to get them in.

Rule #2: Drink plenty of water

A misnomer about breastfeeding is that drinking plenty of water is important for your milk supply, but upping your intake of H2O actually doesn’t increase your milk supply, according to Kelly Bonyata, an international board certified lactation consultant and founder of KellyMom.com

What drinking plenty of water can do however, is help prevent you from feeling even more fatigued than you probably already do.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (previously the Institute of Medicine), says the adequate intake (AI) for water while breastfeeding is 3.1 liters but notes there’s no data to suggest that kidney function and the amount of hydration breastfeeding moms need is any different than moms who are not breastfeeding.

Rather than keeping tabs on how much water you’re drinking, a good rule of thumb is to drink for thirst. Keep a water bottle near you during the day to make sure you’re staying well-hydrated and be mindful of symptoms of dehydration, which include dark urine, constipation, and fatigue.

Don’t like plain water? Add slices of cucumber or strawberry for a hint of flavor. Water from other sources count too: fruits and vegetables, soups, juices, milk, tea and coffee.

Rule #3: Make protein a priority

Breastfeeding places high demands for protein on your body so it’s important to make sure you’re getting plenty at every meal and snack you eat. Eating protein will also stabilize your blood sugar, give you energy, and help you lose the baby weight.

Excellent sources of protein include:

  • Lean meats
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Tempeh, tofu and soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters

 

Rule #4: Get DHA

DHA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet is important for your baby’s brain development. Fish is one of the highest sources of DHA and studies show eating fish can ward off postpartum depression too.

You’ll want to avoid high-mercury fish, which include, shark, marlin, king mackerel, orange roughy, swordfish, and tilefish. Also, limit your consumption of albacore (white) tuna to 6 ounces a week.

Fish that are considered safe because they have lower levels of mercury include salmon, anchovy, catfish, clam, crab, cod, oysters, sardines, scallops, shrimp, and canned light tuna.

Rule #5: Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D

Your baby will draw all of the nutrition he needs from your breast milk, including your calcium stores, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough for your body.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommend lactating women get 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D.

Dairy is an obvious source of calcium, but green leafy vegetables, fish, almonds, sesame seeds and fortified cereals, breads and orange juice, are also good sources of calcium.

Get vitamin D from fortified milk, fatty fish like salmon or the good ‘ol sun. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, a supplement can also help.

Rule #6: Curb caffeine

Sleepless nights and 24/7 feedings will have you craving coffee, but babies are sensitive to caffeine so it’s a good idea to cut back while you’re breastfeeding. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says 200 milligrams (mg) a day of caffeine is likely safe for breastfeeding moms.

If you’re unsure how much caffeine is in your cup of joe, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a handy caffeine chart. Also, keep tabs on other sources of caffeine like decaf coffee, tea, chocolate, and some snacks.

Rule #7: Eat iron-rich foods

Getting adequate levels of iron in your diet while you’re breastfeeding can prevent iron-deficient anemia and ensure you have plenty of energy to care for your baby.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron is 9mg but talk to your doctor about how much you need especially if your menstrual periods have returned.

Iron-rich foods include beef, oysters, beans and legumes, spinach, and iron-fortified cereals.

Rule #8: Add lots of herbs and spices to your meals

If you enjoy herbs and spices, adding them to your meals can help your baby to love them later on and may even prevent picky eating.

According to a June 2017 review in the journal Current Nutrition Reports, the foods moms eat during pregnancy and while they’re breastfeeding affect the taste and nutrition of their breast milk, which in turn shapes their babies’ flavor and food preferences.

Add cilantro to green smoothies, turmeric to stews, and cinnamon to your morning oatmeal, for example.

Rule #9: Alcohol is OK, but on occasion

A glass of wine every once in awhile is considered safe while you’re breastfeeding, but it probably shouldn’t be something you do every night and you should limit it to one drink which includes:

·      6 ounces of wine

·      12 ounces of beer

·      1.5 ounces of liquor

Although conventional wisdom has promoted the “pump and dump” strategy, there’s no need. Alcohol leaves your breast milk at it leaves your bloodstream. ACOG recommends moms wait at last 2 hours after having a drink before resuming breastfeeding.