When you have a new baby, and you’re trying to nurse every 3-4 hours around the clock, you barely have time to sleep, shower, or even eat. But it’s important to keep your energy levels up, and when it comes to snacking — keep it easy!
In addition to being my go-to nursing snacks, these 11 foods were total lifesavers when I realized I was getting cranky from lack of sleep, lack of calories, and the busy life of a first time mom. The following natural snack suggestions are full of healthy proteins, vitamins, and nutrients to give you that extra spark and strength.
Bananas are full of vitamins like potassium. They naturally reduce any heartburn that may be lingering from pregnancy, and the natural sugars in the fruit will give you a much needed energy boost without the crash of a snack containing white sugar. What a tasty triple threat.
2. Granola Bar
In addition to being a universal favorite, granola bars are a delicious and healthy snack to throw in the diaper bag for nursing on the go. Try choosing one containing almonds, which are a galactagogue (aka: they naturally increase milk production*).
Make sure to check your ingredients though — some granola bars can have a lot of sugar and few natural ingredients. Odwalla bars are one good option with low sugar.
3. Greek Yogurt Cup
Greek yogurt is full of healthy protein, as well as calcium and probiotics — the good kind of bacteria that aid in digestion. Grabbing a Greek yogurt cup out of the fridge was my must-have nursing snack in those first few months as a new mom.
4. Trail Mix
Trail mix is great because it is so customizable. You can even make your own at many grocery stores. If you want to superpower your pre-pump snack, try adding candied ginger or coconut instead of chocolate.
5. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is another great protein-filled snack. 1 cup has about 25 grams of the good stuff. If you’re a little squeamish about it, try small curd cottage cheese, it’s smoother and actually contains more protein than the large curd! My toddler now has a snack of cottage cheese every night before bed; the calcium is great for sleep too.
Pretzels are a relatively healthy way to get that “crunchy” kind of snack while avoiding the greasiness of chips. They are easy to grab, store well, and are just plain fun to eat. The only downside is that your baby may be kept awake by all that crunching, so these are a snack best left for daytime.
7. Dehydrated Fruit
Nowadays, most grocery stores sell a range of dehydrated fruit, which are packed with tons of health benefits. All are shelf-stable so you can keep them on a nightstand or eat them on the go. My favorites are the peaches and strawberries — they practically dissolve in your mouth.
8. Spoonful of Nut Butter
In high school, I thought it was SO WEIRD when I saw my friends eat peanut butter straight off a spoon, but now I see the genius of their ways. A spoonful of peanut or almond butter is often the perfect snack for when you are just a little bit hungry or need an energy boost. These magic substances contain healthy fats, and can also increase milk production* — yay!
9. Slice of Lox
After giving birth, I was SO glad to be able to eat smoked salmon again. This snack is rich in healthy omega 3s, which are great for warding off heart disease later in life. It’s also delicious and something I craved (but wasn’t allowed to have) almost my entire pregnancy. All you need are some crackers to go with your lox, and you’ll have an easy meal!
10. Hardboiled Egg
You can either boil your own eggs, or buy them ready-made for a no-prep version. These babies are bite sized, full of healthy protein, and easy to grab-n-go. Eggs also contain something called choline, which helps with infant brain development, so these are a great choice for pregnant and nursing moms.
If you like spice, try cutting a hardboiled egg in half and drizzling with Sriracha. It’s a common breastfeeding myth that you shouldn’t eat spicy foods while nursing, but this hasn’t been proven. No fear here — spicy food is perfectly fine for baby!
11. Lactation Cookies
Last but not least, we had to include a treat. Lactation cookies are designed specifically to increase milk production, and they taste delicious too! There are several recipes (like this one), or you can order them online, already made. The ingredients and health benefits of these cookies vary, but there are dairy-free and vegan options out there too.
If you keep some of these snacks around towards the end of your pregnancy, you can rest easy knowing there will be some healthy options in the house for you after your new baby arrives. Now you just need to relax, enjoy your little one, and let the mothering instinct take over! Trust me — he or she will be hungry.
*If you are having trouble with producing too much breast milk, you may want to consider asking your doctor or lactation consultant before consuming any natural galactagogues.