Baby Sleep and Breastfeeding Series, Part 3: Diet and Medication

Baby Sleep and Breastfeeding Series, Part 3: Diet and MedicationWelcome to part 3 of my Baby Sleep and Breastfeeding Series! If you are just joining us, you might want to start at part 1, where I discuss reasons why breastfeeding moms sometimes struggle with sleep. Today, I’ll go over the way mom’s diet or medication might affect baby’s sleep.

Breastfeeding Mom’s Diet

In general, breastfeeding moms do not need to limit their diet. Most babies will not be sensitive to anything in your diet and some sources even say one glass of wine or alcohol in small quantities is OK. I am a nervous mom, so I really did not drink when I was breastfeeding, but some do say it’s okay. What is okay for one mom to eat may not be right for you and your baby, so there really isn’t a list of regular foods that breastfeeding moms have to stay away from, including “gassy foods.” Breast milk is made up of what is in your blood, not what you eat.

The AAP does recommend to limit caffeine, but you can drink it. Basically, consume anything in moderation. No throwing back shots or drinking five cups of coffee (limit to 1 maybe 2 cups per day). Even if you are drinking caffeine in moderation, if your baby is unusually fussy or difficult to settle for sleep, try cutting back (or out) caffeine to rule it out as a culprit.

I gave up caffeine in pregnancy (the first time, not the second) and didn’t start drinking it until I went back to work and just couldn’t keep up with my son’s sleep problems and work (this was around 8-10 weeks). So, caffeine most definitely was not the source of our sleep problems. I do know that! One thing to keep in mind is that newborns *are* fussy for the first 6-8 weeks and just when you think about cutting out dairy and all kinds of things in your diet (like I considered but thankfully didn’t do because I love cheese!), their fussiness starts to go away, so be patient.

All in all, your diet has little influence on your breast milk and your breastfeeding baby will get the nutrition she needs. So, just when you think that spicy food affected your baby’s sleep, keep in mind that there are areas in the world where spicy food is the daily norm and they breastfeed just fine. Please read more about the effect of mom’s diet on breast milk to put your mind at ease. Having said that, it’s important to eat enough calories to keep up your milk supply, so going on a diet while nursing is not advisable and that includes taking diet pills. Breastfeeding usually burns more calories and actually makes it easier to lose weight (though not for everyone) and it may take up to a year to lose all that baby weight, but your baby’s health will be well worth it.

Breastfeeding Mom’s Medication

If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you do have to be careful about some medications you might take. Always talk to your doctor about the medication he wants to prescribe and make sure you remind him that you are breastfeeding. Search the LactMed database for approved medications for breastfeeding mothers.

Some cold medications are not advised when you are breastfeeding. Sudafed and Actifed are okay to take as well as some allergy medications such as Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, and Benadryl. Keep in mind any cold or allergy medication can affect your milk supply, so if you notice a dip, once you stop using it, your milk supply should go back up. Advil and Tylenol are both deemed as safe for you to take without an effect on your milk supply. This is different than when you are pregnant and should NOT take Advil. You can also review natural cold remedies that might help without adding to your stress or worry.

Anti-anxiety and anti-depressants have not been proven to cause a problem in a nursing infant, but the AAP puts them on a list of “Unknown, but could be of concern.” You should also make sure you review the list of medication with significant effects on infants, such as aspirin.

Any particular medication may or may not cause any sleep issues (none specifically that I know of — remember, I am not a doctor), and if you need medication for any given problem, I’d recommend working around it rather than trying to stop your medication. If medication is temporary, always keep in mind that you can “pump and dump.” I know of one mom who weaned at around 8 weeks because she had to take a certain unsafe medication for a week or two. She later realized she could have pumped and given her baby formula for a couple of weeks and then gone back to breastfeeding, so I try to remind people that weaning to fix a temporary problem is unnecessary and we can work around it. If you need ongoing medication, don’t assume your sleep struggles are due to the medication and definitely talk to your doctor about it.

Whether it’s diet or medication, there are many things breastfeeding moms have to worry about. When there are so many variables, it’s easy to blame breastfeeding and wonder whether if you stopped breastfeeding if all your sleep troubles would disappear. My mother-in-law was convinced that would have been true for me, but the pros definitely outweighed the cons and given I get just as many bottle-feeding moms to the site, I’m sure that, once again, all babies are different. Don’t wean. I breastfed for a year with both boys, and we can work on the sleep troubles!


All content of The Baby Sleep Site®, such as articles, e-guides, e-Books, advice, evaluative consultations, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on The Baby Sleep Site® (“Content”) are for informational and supportive purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always, always, always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your or your child’s medical condition(s), behaviors, feeding and sleeping habits, and environment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on The Baby Sleep Site®.

The Baby Sleep Site® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site® may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product, but will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and are good for our readers.

Holistic Sleep Solutions from The Baby Sleep Site®

e-Book bundles

Do-It-Yourself: Just getting started with your research but you want to stop Googling? Choose from any of our e-book bundles for practical advice you can put to use TODAY!  

Become a VIP Member

Do-It-Mostly-Yourself: Would you like to continue learning with the option of getting answers from an expert sleep consultant? We have a perfect solution! Become a VIP Member for access to all of our premium content. This includes ALL of our e-books and bonuses, audio courses, access to our “ask the author” feature giving you answers to your pressing questions from an expert baby sleep consultant, and more!

Get a Personalized Sleep Plan

Work With a Sleep Expert: Tap into over a decade of experience with thousands of families before you! Get a Personalized Sleep Plan® just for your unique situation, get guidance and answers to all your “what if?” questions while you work through your plan, and benefit from expert support along the way. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard “I wish I had done this sooner!” Not sure? Read these stories from well-rested parents.

Don’t lose another wink of sleep — GET STARTED TODAY with our gentler, kinder approach to healthy sleep!

FREE Guide: Five Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night

Join over 500,000 parents for 15+ years & sign up today to receive the guide and Newzzz, our Baby Sleep Newsletter absolutely FREE!

Share to...