Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Many mothers ask me if there a list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding? The short and simple answer is no. There are NO foods that a mother needs to avoid just because she is breastfeeding.

Allergies and foods to avoid while breastfeeding

Only mothers of babies with family histories of serious food allergies should maintain a list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

Contrary to common belief, food allergies are fairly uncommon and according to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, less than 5% of the population has a true food allergy.

Over 90% of food allergies are caused by 9 foods; cow-milk products, soy, shellfish, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, egg whites, citrus fruits, and food additives.

0.5% of people are allergic to peanuts

2.5% of people are allergic to cow's milk

1.3% of people are allergic to eggs

0.5% of people are allergic to shellfish

Most people who think they have a food allergy actually have a food intolerance.

Some studies support that a young breastfed baby can become sensitized to allergens in breast milk. Babies born to allergic parents have a greater chance of becoming allergic to the same foods. If your baby is sensitive to something in your diet, there will probably be other symptoms in addition to fussiness, such as excessive spitting up or vomiting, colic, rash or persistent congestion. If you are able to calm your fussy baby with more frequent nursing it is probably not food-related.

Breastfeeding is a great way to prevent or decrease allergy symptoms. Breast milk fights allergies by coating the insides of the intestines which makes it difficult for foreign substances to leak into the gut. Breastfed babies are only exposed to what the mother eats and secretes in her milk.

What does a food allergy look like?

Some people develop an itchy mouth and throat. Others develop a rash or cramping, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Other common symptoms are hives, wheezing, sneezing, runny nose, unusual crying, rhinitis, and shortness of breath. In extreme cases a life-threatening condition called anaphylactic shock develops. Severe symptoms or reactions to any allergen require immediate medical attention.

Once a family has an allergic child, parents want to avoid allergy problems for future children in the family. Studies have shown that if a mother avoids all foods that family members are allergic to for her entire pregnancy and until weaning, later children are far less likely to have allergic symptoms.

If you or a close family member suffer from food allergies, take note of these allergenic foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

Cow's milk

Cow's milk is the most common cause of food allergies and is also a common cause of food intolerance. A mother who has a strong family history of milk allergies might pass more of the colic-inducing element, beta-lactoglobulin, into her milk. Cow's milk allergy often causes eczema or dry, rough, red skin patches that can progress to open, weeping sores in many allergic children.

If you must avoid milk or certain foods while breastfeeding, it's recommended to replace nutrients found in dairy products with other foods. Consult with your doctor or refer to a dietitian.


Eggs have been used to make the foam or milk topping on specialty coffee drinks and are used in some bar drinks. On an ingredient list, any of the following words would also indicate the presence of egg: albumin, egg white, egg yolk, dried egg, egg powder, egg solids, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovovitellin, and livetin. The fat substitute Simplesse also contains microparticulated egg protein.


Peanut allergy used to be considered a lifelong allergy though recent studies show that up to 20% of children diagnosed with peanut allergy outgrow it. Most experts recommend peanut-allergic patients avoid tree nuts as an extra precaution.

Capsaicin or Red pepper

Capsaicin or Red pepper has been found to cause dermatitis in breastfed babies and may cause the baby to develop a perianal rash.


It is generally recommended that individuals who have had an allergic reaction to one species of fish, avoid all fish. The same rule applies to shellfish.

Mothers with allergies or a history of allergies in their families are warned of certain foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Avoidance of allergen foods can lower the risk of your baby developing allergic reactions.

Colic and foods to avoid while breastfeeding

You may continue to eat most foods in your normal diet while breastfeeding and most baby fussiness or "colic" is normal for a new baby, and is not related to foods in your diet. There is little evidence to prove whether or not gassy or spicy foods - when eaten in moderation - cause discomfort or problems for a breastfed baby. Studies that have tested that eating gas producing foods does not cause any increase in gas or crying in the babies. The gas we get from beans comes from the undigested part that remains in our intestines. The portion that enters the blood stream and into the breastmilk is not the part that causes gas.

It is not necessary to completely avoid all listed "colic foods" while breastfeeding.

The only cure for allergies is to avoid the allergens. Finding the allergens can be a difficult process and worth the effort! If you suspect that your baby is reacting to a specific food in your diet, make a list of suspected foods and symptoms, and keep track of your baby's behavior when you eat those foods. In time, it is usually possible to determine which foods actually cause a negative reaction.

If elimination of that food eliminates fussiness, gas, or colic, GREAT! You solved the problem. If not, you and your baby may have to wait-it-out until the digestive system matures. Many babies suffer from gas and gastric symptoms for the first 3 months of life.

Common foods that have been found to cause a fussy or colicky reaction in breastfed babies

If your baby is fussy after you eat these... these might be foods to avoid while breastfeeding.



Brussel sprouts




Citrus fruits


Dairy products


Hot peppers

Iron supplements





Soy and tofu

Spicy food


Wheat Foods to avoid while breastfeeding - starting solids safely