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Foods for Breastfeeding Mothers to Make Babies Smarter

By Medically reviewed by Duyen Le, MD.

What you eat or drink is very important when you are breastfeeding, especially in the first two to three weeks when your body starts producing mother milk.

To make breast milk, your body will need a lot of energy. A study showed that the daily energy needs of breastfeeding mothers are about 2,000 kJ (478 calories) more than the needs of a normal woman. These numbers are measured in the first six months of fully breastfeeding (the child only consume mother milk). After this time, your child will need less breast milk and thus you will need less energy.

Protein

Growing infants need a lot of protein, so you will need to supply a lot of protein in your diet to meet your baby’s needs. Proteins are important for the development, maintenance, and reparation of cells. The average amount of protein a  breastfeeding mom need a day is 54g, but some moms may need 67g a day or more.

Sources of protein include:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Beans, nuts, and soy products

Folate

Folate is a type of B vitamins that is essential for your baby’s healthy growth and development. On average, breastfeeding mothers need 450μg of folate a day, but you may need 500μg per day or more. Folate sources include:

  • Leafy vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Peas and nuts
  • Avocado
  • Yeast extract

Iodine

Iodine is a mineral essential for the production of thyroid hormones to ensure the development of the brain and nervous system. Mothers who are breastfeeding need 190μg of iodine a day, but some may need 270μg per day.

Good sources of iodine include:

  • Seafood
  • Milk
  • Vegetables

Zinc

Zinc is important for the development of your baby’s immune system. Mothers who breastfeed need 10mg of zinc a day, but some may need 12mg a day or more. Zinc sources include:

  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Milk
  • Seafood
  • Beans, nuts, and soy products

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for your child’s normal development and helps to fight off infections. Breastfeeding mothers need an average 800μg of vitamin A per day, but some may require up to 1,100μg per day or more.

Good sources of vitamin A include:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fatty fish species
  • Yellow-orange vegetables
  • Fruits like pumpkin, mango, apricots
  • Vegetables like carrots, spinach, and broccoli

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps the metabolism process and formation of red blood cells. Breastfeeding moms need an average 1.7mg per day of vitamin B6, but you may need 2mg a day or more.

Good sources of vitamin B6 include:

  • Muscle and organ meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Whole grains
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green peas
  • Beans

Staying well hydrated

Breastfeeding can make moms very thirsty. You need to drink at least 700ml of fluid a day to replace the lost fluid from breastfeeding. Stick to healthy fluids such as water, milk, juice, and avoid alcohol. Caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, and colas) are ok but should be limited.

Tips to help you eat right 

Breastfeeding during the first few days can be very tiring for moms. If you are struggling, ask for help to stay on track of a healthy diet. s

With the goal to have a healthy, balanced diet and plenty of fluids, you should eat five or six small meals a day instead of three large meals. To the best quality of milk for your child, remember to have a little bit of all the mentioned foods in your diet and avoid hot or spicy foods, as well as caffeine and alcoholic beverages.


You might also want to read:

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Track your Child's Growth Stay up to date with your child's growth and development through content
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Track your Child's Growth Stay up to date with your child's growth and development through content delivered weekly to your email
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