7 Best Snacks for Breastfeeding, According to Experts

When you're breastfeeding, you're hungry. These good-for-you snack staples can keep you energized for the day ahead.

If you've made the decision to breastfeed, you know that it can feel like a full-time job, especially in the beginning. As such, the ability to grab healthy snacks to fuel your body so you can care for your baby is key. Plus, there are certain foods that some say can increase your milk production. We'll talk about what to look for in a breastfeeding snack, if any specific foods really do boost your milk, and the most nutritious snacks you can eat during this time.

Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls

Pictured Recipe: Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls

What to Look for in a Breastfeeding-Friendly Snack

We'll get right to it: There isn't a "perfect" snack for breastfeeding, says Kathy Leeper, M.D., IBCLC, FABM, a breastfeeding medicine specialist and medical director at MilkWorks, a Nebraska-based nonprofit breastfeeding center. That's because you'll "make perfect milk regardless of what you snack on, and you should eat if you're hungry," she says. No doubt you're very busy at this time, so having easy-to-eat and nutritious grab-and-go snacks is key.

Currently, there isn't good research that shows any particular food increases milk production, says Leeper. According to ScienceDirect, galactagogues are certain medication and foods that may help increase milk supply. Foods like oats and some herbs may boost milk production for some, but more important is completely and frequently removing milk, Leeper says. Meaning: Nursing every few hours is key to keeping up your supply, more so than the specific foods you eat. Still, there are some foods that make particularly great snacks for this important time.

7 Best Snacks for Breastfeeding

Aiming for nutrient-dense snacks will nourish your body and help keep your energy up. Here are seven great ideas.

1. Fresh and Dried Fruits

Aim to eat 2 cups of fruit daily. Both fresh and dried fruit can help reach that goal. Fruit is chock-full of fiber and antioxidants, making it a great healthy snack choice. Slice up an apple to dip in nut butter, take a couple of mandarin oranges to your breastfeeding spot or grab a bag of freeze-dried strawberries (these practically taste like candy).

2. Cheese

Cheese can be part of a healthy diet, and it's a good snacking idea for breastfeeding. Eating cheese in moderation, whether you're a fan of Cheddar, manchego or Swiss, has also been found to lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

For cheesy snack ideas, go for Grapes & Cheese, a pear and cottage cheese or Blueberries with Walnuts & Cheese.

3. Fresh Vegetables

Aim for at least two to three servings of veggies per day; for leafy greens, a serving is generally 2 cups, but for other vegetables, 1 cup counts as a serving, according to MyPlate. With a slew of health benefits that come from eating vegetables, like better memory, lower inflammation and stronger immunity, vegetables are a powerful addition to a nursing snack arsenal. Buy bags of pre-sliced veggies or pick those like snap peas and green beans that don't need a chop—and whip up one of these 16 Creamy Dips You'll Want to Make Forever to have on hand during the week.

4. Whole-Grain Crackers

Whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet and may help with disease prevention, as well as improve gut health. While you can cook with many of them, easy snacks like whole-grain crackers or crispbreads can be a quicker route to getting those benefits. Breastfeeding moms don't often have tons of extra time, so a quick snack like whole-grain crackers is a great idea.

5. Nuts and Nut Butters

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses that are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein and fiber. Just keep in mind that different nuts provide different benefits. For example, peanuts, cashews, almonds and pistachios have the most protein, while pecans have the most carbohydrates. Nut butter is another great choice as a spread on whole-grain crackers, drizzled on yogurt or paired with fruit. You can make your own, but you can also purchase healthy store-bought varieties. Look for those that contain just nuts or, if flavored, one that contains little added sugar.

6. Yogurt

There are so many types of yogurt to choose from, such as plain, Greek, coconut, oatmilk and more. What the healthiest type is for you can be dependent on taste preferences or dietary considerations, like if you want dairy or plant-based yogurt. Overall, yogurt can add an easy boost of protein and calcium to your day. Though it takes some extra time, making a Frozen Yogurt Bark Recipe ensures you always have a sweet, creamy and refreshing snack on hand.

7. Granola

Granola, especially if you make your own or purchase lower-sugar varieties, can be a great snack if it contains nutrient-packed foods like whole grains, dried fruit and nuts. Granola can be combined with some of the other items on this list, like yogurt or cottage cheese. With so many ways to use granola and the countless recipes available, like Air-Fryer Honey Granola with Banana Chips & Cherries or Maple Granola, it's a great addition to a nursing snacks list.

Other Eating Tips for Breastfeeding

If the "perfect" snack isn't available to you at the moment, that's OK. "Human bodies are amazing and make the perfect nutrition and immunologic support for a child. While choosing nutrient-dense snacks is wise, you are still a good mom if all you have access to in a moment when you are hungry is a bag of Cheetos," Leeper explains.

As for supplements, more research is needed on these. "Sometimes lactating parents feel [certain supplements] help increase milk production, but none work better than frequent and effective milk removal," Leeper says.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also offers the following tips for following a healthy diet while breastfeeding:

  • Eat about 450 to 500 extra calories per day to support milk production.
  • Consume low-mercury fish and seafood two to three times per week.
  • Consider continuing to take your prenatal vitamin.
  • Stay hydrated.

If you have questions regarding breastfeeding or your milk supply, finding a lactation professional near you can help. "The Affordable Care Act mandated private insurers provide lactation care at no out-of-pocket cost," says Leeper.

The Bottom Line

Like at any time in life, nutritious whole-food nutrient-dense snacks would be the best choice for breastfeeding, says Leeper. Snacks are a great opportunity to get in more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy or nondairy yogurts to support your energy as your body works hard to feed your baby.

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