Your diet and breastfeeding

While you are breastfeeding, it is important that you eat a well-balanced diet. To achieve a healthy, balanced diet, you should try to eat foods from each of the different food groups below:

  • Fruit and vegetables - Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day. These can be fresh, frozen, tinned, or dried, but it is important to avoid anything with added salt or sugar.
  • Starchy foods (carbohydrates) - These include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, and noodles.  Try to choose the wholemeal options whenever possible.
  • Protein - This includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, and nuts. It is important to include two portions of fish each week, including one portion of oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring, or mackerel. Try to avoid eating more than 1 portion of shark, swordfish, or marlin a week as these can contain more mercury than other types of fish.
  • Dairy - this includes milk, cheese, and yoghurt. Try to choose low fat varieties. If you prefer dairy-free alternatives, try to choose the unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.

If your baby is sensitive to certain foods or drinks, you may need to avoid them. This is because traces of the food you eat, and drink pass through your breast milk to your baby. If you have any questions or concerns about this, speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP.

For More information about eating a well-balanced diet while breastfeeding, please visit

Food and drinks to avoid


Caffeine occurs naturally in lots of foods and drinks, including coffee, tea, and chocolate. It is also added to some soft drinks and energy drinks, as well as some cold and flu remedies. Caffeine acts as a stimulant, which can make your baby restless. While you are breastfeeding, you should restrict your caffeine intake to less than 300mg a day. Try to have decaffeinated tea and coffee, herbal teas, 100% fruit juice (but no more than 1 glass (150ml) per day) or water instead. Please see the table below for a rough caffeine guide.

Food or drink

Caffeine (mg)

1 can of cola drink (354ml)


1 plain chocolate bar (50g)

Up to 50mg

1 mug of tea


1 can of energy drink (250ml)

80mg (larger cans may contain up to 160mg)

1 mug of instant coffee


1 mug of filter coffee











Alcohol will pass through your breast milk to your baby when you feed them. Choosing not to drink any alcohol while you are breastfeeding is the safest option. However, if you choose to:

  • have an occasional drink (1 or 2 units of alcohol, once or twice a week), you may wish to avoid breastfeeding for 2 to 3 hours afterwards. This allows time for the alcohol to leave your breast milk and avoids exposing your baby to any alcohol in your milk.
  • binge drink (have more than 6 units of alcohol in 1 session), it may make you less aware of your baby's needs. In this situation, your baby should be cared for by an adult who has not had any alcohol. If you regularly binge drink, you may find it helpful to discuss your alcohol consumption with your health visitor or GP.
  • drink regularly, it can be harmful for you and your baby. It is not safe to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. Drinking too much alcohol can decrease your milk supply. It may also cause your baby to have sleep, growth and developmental problems. If you regularly drink more than 14 units a week, you may find it helpful to discuss your alcohol consumption with your midwife, health visitor or GP.

A unit of alcohol is equivalent to roughly:

  • A small glass of wine (125ml)
  • Half a pint of beer
  • A single measure of a spirit (25ml)

For more information about foods and drinks to avoid, please visit:

Never share a bed or sleep on the sofa with your baby if you have drunk any alcohol. This increases your baby’s risk of cot death (sudden infant death syndrome)

For more information, please visit and download a copy of the 'Safer sleep for babies: a guide for parents and carers’ leaflet

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