Healthy Breastfeeding Snacks for New Moms
Whether you are breastfeeding or not, caring for a newborn requires lots of energy. Tot lactation expert Rebecca Agi MS, IBCLC shares 25 healthy snack ideas to help keep parents nourished and fueled for those long days and sleepless nights.
Just like for pregnant moms, breastfeeding moms should consume a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat each day. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods in their most natural form will not only introduce your baby to a variety of different tastes and flavors, but will keep you feeling fueled and nourished, especially in the early postpartum period as your body recovers from the physiological strain of pregnancy and childbirth.
What makes a good snack?
The best snacks during breastfeeding are easy to prepare and nutritious, not highly processed foods packed with added sugar, fat and sodium. Complex carbohydrates like fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains supply a variety of vitamins and minerals. Lean protein like chicken, turkey, eggs, low-mercury fish, seeds, nuts and legumes are especially important during breastfeeding to ensure the body can build, repair and maintain tissues and organs. Foods rich in omega-3’s like olive oil, avocados, walnuts, salmon and chia seeds are also really important to include during breastfeeding as they promote the brain and eye development of your newborn.
Snacking on foods that combine these macronutrients is a great way to give breast milk an extra nutritional boost.
How much to eat?
To ensure you’re eating and drinking enough throughout the day, use hunger and thirst as your guide. It really is that simple! It’s normal to be extra hungry and thirsty in the early postpartum days as your body recovers. Increased appetite is also common as babies go through growth spurts, which come every few weeks. Try to eat 3 full meals and at least 2 snacks per day, but more may be needed.
What about fiber?
Many breastfeeding mothers are warned to avoid “gassy foods” like beans, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. While eating these foods may cause flatulence, gas and fiber do not pass into breast milk and do not need to be restricted.
How many extra calories do you really need?
It is recommended that lactating parents consume an additional 500 calories per day, but this number is not the same for everyone. Calorie requirements during lactation depend on height, weight, activity level, and how much breast milk a parent is actually producing each day. Rather than focus on calories, eat to satisfy your appetite, focusing on healthy foods as much as possible.
Here are 25 healthy snack ideas that will keep you feeling fueled when the days and nights can seem long and blurry.
25 Healthy Snacks for Breastfeeding & New Moms
- Overnight oats with chia seeds, nut butter and berries
- Apple and string cheese
- Brown rice cake with almond butter, sliced banana and a drizzle of honey
- Pitted dates filled with peanut butter and walnuts
- Brown rice cake with avocado and tomato
- Plain yogurt with chopped walnuts and apple
- Handful of homemade trail mix with dried fruit
- Steamed edamame with 1 seaweed snack pack
- Hard-boiled egg with sliced bell pepper
- Full-fat cottage cheese with granola
- Roasted sweet potato with a handful of cashews
- Frozen grapes and pumpkin seeds
- Orange segments with string cheese
- Whole wheat bread with butter and smoked salmon
- Raspberries and dark chocolate
- Sliced banana with natural nut butter
- Greek yogurt with mixed berries
- Almond milk smoothie with fruits and greens
- Toasted sprouted grain bread with goats cheese, avocado, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of EVO
- Strawberries with ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey
- Bone broth with vegetables and wakame
- Whole wheat crackers with turkey slices
- Pear with slices of mozzarella cheese
- Granola bar and herbal tea
- Homemade oatmeal cookies