Breastfeeding Community

I’m Breastfeeding: What Should I Eat?

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
04/03/14  8:05 PM PST
breastfeeding diet

Human milk is tailored to meet the nutrition needs of your baby: just the right amount of calories carbohydrates, protein, fat and vitamins and minerals to support normal growth and development. While you are breastfeeding, you need more of these nutrients in order to supply enough for both you and your baby. Eat a healthy, balanced diet every day to give your body what it needs to produce quality milk. You’ll find specific tips below, and  you can find a FAQ to your breastfeeding diet here.


  • Consume an additional 500 calories daily while breastfeeding. Your additional calorie needs may vary depending on how much you are breastfeeding. These extra calories should come from nutritious foods, such as lean meats, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals. Here are the calorie amounts in some of these foods:
Food and portion size Calories
3-ounce portion of lean meat, chicken or fish 150-250
6-ounce cup of fruit-flavored, nonfat Greek yogurt 100-150
1 tennis-ball size piece of fruit 70-100
1 slice of whole-grain bread 80-120
1 cup of fresh or ½ cup of cooked vegetables 25-50 calories


  • Drink at least 12 8-ounce glasses of caffeine-free fluid daily. Getting in a glass each time you nurse is one strategy to ensure that you get enough. A moderate amount of caffeine (2-3 cups of coffee) daily is fine for most breastfed babies. Too much caffeine may cause fussiness or make it harder for your baby to sleep.

Lean Protein Foods

  • Eat at least 5 ounces of protein foods like lean meat, chicken or fish, beans and legumes, soy, eggs, nuts and cheese.

Low-fat or Nonfat Dairy Foods

  • Aim for 3 cups a day of yogurt and milk to get enough calcium and vitamin D.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Have at least 1 ½ cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily. At least 1 cup of veggies should be dark green or orange to maximize your vitamin A and folic acid intake. If you have fruit juice, limit it to 1 cup daily and make sure it’s 100% fruit juice (if you have diabetes, check with your doctor first).

Whole Grains and Cereals

  • Get at least 6 ounces daily of whole-wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur and other sources. Hint: Make sure whole wheat flour is the first ingredient in your wheat bread.

Breastfeeding and Nutrition Tips:

Your milk is only affected slightly by the food you eat. For the most part, your baby enjoys the different flavors. If you notice that a certain food you ate didn’t agree with your baby, stop eating that food for a few days and try it again later. If your baby is sensitive to certain foods, she may show these signs within a few minutes up to 24 hours of feeding:

  • Fussiness during or after feedings
  • Inconsolable crying after feeding
  • Waking up in discomfort
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • More serious symptoms include (talk to your doctor if you notice these symptoms):
    • Vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool
    • Rash or hives



Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition Care Manual


This information is for educational purposes only and does not replace the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have questions about your health or your baby’s health, please contact your health care provider.


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