Breastfeeding and Chocolate

There is an old-wives tale out there that you shouldn’t eat chocolate while you are breastfeeding as it can result in a very fussy and gassy baby.  I hadn’t heard about this old-wives tale until I heard someone mention it on an episode of TLC’s “Bringing Home Baby” that I was watching the other day.  It sparked my interest because I had noticed that some days my daughter was gassier than others and I was trying to figure out what the cause may be.  I am an admitted chocoholic and there is almost always some form of chocolate in my house.  So I sat down and thought about it and figured that maybe I was eating more chocolate on the days when she was a little gassier.  I tried eliminating chocolate for one day and she seemed to be ok, the next day I only had a little and still she was ok, the next day I had a little more and she was a little gassy.  The culprit was identified, much to my dismay too much chocolate seems to give my daughter gas, bummer.

The old-wives tale that you shouldn’t eat chocolate while breastfeeding does not apply to everyone.  You cannot make a blanket statement that every mom needs to avoid chocolate, cause that simply isn’t the case.  Chocolate is just one of those things that may cause more gassiness in a breastfed baby.  However, there are lots of other things that can do the same thing.  Every baby is different and each mom will have to figure out what foods seem to be the culprit for her baby.  There is not one size fits all recommendation that can be made.  Talk to your pediatrician about what may be the cause of your baby’s gassiness and what foods they recommend that breastfeeding moms avoid.

Here is a list of the most common foods that cause gassiness and fussiness in breastfed babies.

  • Chocolate
  • Gassy vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower
  • Citrus fruits, including orange juice
  • Coffee and other caffeinated beverages
  • Overly greasy foods
  • Onions and garlic, even in seasoning form
  • Dairy products, particular if you consume a lot.

The best thing to do if you notice that your baby is particular gassy when you eat certain foods is to avoid them or just eat them in limited quantities.  For me that means no Mexican food and I have to watch how much chocolate I eat.  If it means my daughter is happier and less gassy I’m fine with that.

What foods did you find most affected your baby while you were breastfeeding?  Was it hard to avoid those foods?

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79 comments on “Breastfeeding and Chocolate

  1. Kirsten,

    Thank you for your comment. I know it can be hard to give up a guilty pleasure, but when it comes to making a newborn comfortable it is sometimes a necessary evil. Having a happy baby who is pain free and sleeps well is more than enough reward for giving up an addiction, I think anyway.

  2. Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences – it’s made it so much easier to work out what our 3 week old’s challenge has been. Her life began as a little zen baby, but by five days old we had a screamer on our hands. Frothy, foamy pooh, lots of gas, and very broken nights. The more tired I got from no sleep, the more chocolate I had. I would have thought she’d cope just fine, given how much chocolate I ate while pregnant, but I guess it was just going through her system and back into mine – her precious little body didn’t have to deal with it by itself before.

    Since reading all your posts, I’ve now been off it for three days, and we’re seeing a massive improvement. She’s not screaming herself awake trying to do a pooh anymore, she’s sleeping longer, and seems to be much more like the original, content, blissed-out little munchkin we began with.

    Another piece of research some of you might find helpful was about the half-life of chocolate (and other caffeine sources).. in a new born, it lasts up to 5 and a half days, reducing dramatically to only 6 or 7 hours in a 3mo old, and 3 hours or 6 once little ones are 6 months.

    What this can mean for some babies, then, is a serious cumulative effect. Especially if you’re like me – I was eating at least a block of dark chocolate a day, and that’s not accounting for the odd Lindt ball or two, a couple of hot chocolates, and a chocolate biscuit or brownie or two. I mention this b/c it might be that you don’t actually see any serious improvement in the first couple of days, b/c it takes so long to work out of their little systems.

    Hopefully this info will help some-one as much as you’ve all helped me… I really, REALLY appreciate you all sharing, thanks, and so does our whole family!

    Special thanks to you, Lisa, for getting the ball rolling, and all the best to each of you 🙂

  3. Lyssa,

    I’m glad you found some help with my stories. That is why I share them, so hopefully I can help others. Thank you for sharing your experiences as well, it is so helpful when we talk and share with one another.

  4. I didn’t believe in this…but ate 4 pieces of rich chocolate cake one evening….boy, did I get punished for it. Baby threw up a few times that day, as well as was gassy and VERY CRANKY the whole next day. 🙁 I am a believer now…

  5. i am one choc bar the other day and my 5 week old was up all night and the next day was very cranky and had so much belly pain.. i had no idea what was the problem til i started going over what i ate the day before that was diff and found out that choc bar that i so enjoyed eatin was the cause for my lil guys discomfort. that lil piece of heaven is not worth it when your baby is cryin all day from being gassy and not being able to poop…. so i have learned that this old wifes tale is very true. i am so a believer… 🙂

  6. Rebecca,

    Ya, that yummy chocolate is just not worth it. It gets better. Once their digestive systems mature a bit you’ll be able to eat chocolate again without having a crabby baby as a reward 🙂

  7. I am so upset because I didn’t know chocolate would upset my baby while I am breast feeding. My baby is 7 months old and I just ate a ton of chocolate the past couple of days because my cousin made a big batch of homemade chocolate. I am hoping this doesn’t effect him too much. If I would have known, I wouldn’t have eaten it. Happy to read this!

  8. Missy,

    You are probably okay since he is older and his digestive system has matured. It more affects infants in the early months when their digestive systems are still maturing.

  9. Yes I agree with you all too. Have had a very cranky 3 week old throughout most of the day especially and what with all the Christmas chocolate lying around (from well meaning relatives!) have been stuffing my face in between crying bouts. Since stopping that (and cheese) have noticed a huge difference. Even with his spotty little face – not sure if there`s a link there too!

  10. Wow, I feel awful! My baby has been fussy and gassy for a few weeks now and I wasn’t sure why. My grandmother had mentioned not eating chocolate while I was breastfeeding. I sort of ignored it, I wasn’t eating that much chocolate and have been using hot chocolate and chocolate carnation instant breakfast to drink more milk. My mom was curious why my grandma said to avoid chocolate so I looked it up, I can’t believe that’s why! I feel so bad for causing him so much discomfort…

  11. Maria,

    Don’t feel bad. Things like this happen to all of us. Sometimes you don’t know something will affect your baby until after your first experience with it.

  12. Since my son Thoedore was born I have noticed how chocolate makes him very very ill, with days of screaming, sobbing, wailing and suffering that makes me feel so guilty whenever i forget and eat so much as a single m&m. So at 2 months old i couldnt take it anymore and I made the huge decision to stop eating it until I am finished breastfeeding. I’m not completely sure but i might be slowly going insane from chocolate withdrawal. My son is four months old now and is handling many foods now that i couldn’t eat at all before – like green veggies and tomatoes. However, upon doing some reading, I discovered that it is the Theobromine in chocolate that causes the agonizing gas and cramps in infants. This substance is similar to caffeine, which is why it is passed into breast milk (it enters the bloodstream). But there IS light at the end of the tunnel! White chocolate contains only a minuscule amount of this substance. So, I am happy to report that I am happily munching white chocolate macadamia cookies and my son is happily and pain/gas-free.

  13. Is it the chocolate that causes this, or the caffiene in it? Caffiene is added to chocolate not naturaly in it. You can get chocolate that does not have it added.

  14. I am so glad I read this first. I was surely on my way to eating a pair of lava crunch cakes from Domino’s this evening. Glad I did my research first.

  15. Hi thanks for this discussion

    It all makes perfect sense now! My 7 month old son who i breast feed and feed only baby rice 3 times a day, lately has been suffering trapped wind every night. He’d been very uncomfortable, scratch his neck and tip his head backwards and I had thought that they’re not meant to suffer from trapped wind at this age. I’d tried so many ways to comfort him and he’d accidently bup…but I’d carry on trying to comfort him, not realising that it was the trapped wind waking him.
    Over the last week and a half I’ve been indulging huge amounts of chocolate every single day, only due to my new found freedom. I feel brave enough to go out on walks with my 2 babies (one is 2.9months and the other 7 months). So I’ve taken trip s to the local shops and ‘invested’ in chocolate stocks as the weather may turn bad andhubby only gets chocolate when I ask and moans that it ain’t good for me as he doen’t wanna make a trip to theshop for my craving (although he himself has some at work everyday!), so I don’t bother asking him. so since my little boy was born I’ve had the odd bar here and there….not a bar or two everyday, continuously for the last week and a half!
    I just munched on some choccies now after putting both my babies to bed. (my second bar of the day). I’ll give it a try…as hard as it may be…and see if my ‘poor’ baby feels better. never really thought that it went into the breast milk. presumed that all the good stuff from what I ate automatically filtered to make the milk. I guess I was wrong!
    Feel really guilty as my baby sufferes from eczema and some ‘undetected’ allergies. He can only have baby rice for solids (other than the breastmilk) as all other baby cereals that I have tried gives him an allergic reaction. NO MORE CHOCOLATE. I’ll donate my choccies to my hubby!
    Thanks Again guys for your experiences and words of wisdom!


  16. Is this why my 4 month old is always irritable in the evenings? Maybe this is my next step give up the chocci gosh us mothers give up alot don’t we haha 😉

  17. We sure do 🙂 Try the chocolate and see if that helps. It is also pretty common for babies to have a fussy period in the evening so it may not necessarily be anything in particular, but you could try giving up chocolate for a bit to see if that helps.

  18. Looks like I’m biting the bullet again tomorrow. 37 days ago I quit smoking. From a couple of hours ago it seems like I just had my last bit of chocolate. Lets see if we can both stop ‘gassing’. Lol

  19. Thank you for some confirmation. As a retired midwife, and grandmother for the third time, I was constantly being told the food being eaten would not be responsible for my grandchilds, disturbed evenings/nights. Chocolates,broccoli, a little alcohol, fruit juices from higher acid content were being used, as the midwives had refuted these “old wives tales” due to lack of medical evidence. These young midwives live in a world where evidence is required before changes will be made. It would be good to have some valid rsearch added to the clinical education of these “educator/carers”, to assist in the better support o parents and particularly, the infant. Thanks for a great article. Individuality is the Key.

  20. Our lil miss is 3months old. The past 2 weeks have been hell for my DH and I, which is unusual because our lil one has been such an angel from birth till 2 weeks ago. To figure out what might be causing such horrible 3-4hour distress and constant interrupted sleep and fussiness, I took out just about everything in my diet….slowly. Just recently and in doing that I increased my chocolate delights and ignorantly resorted back to them to get some sort of pleasure out of my bland meals. In conclusion, I have figured out that changing our lil one’s schedule affected her negatively as well as my hunger for chocolate. Reading this article confirms my suspicions. 🙁 Sooooooooo for now, I have eaten my last chocolate desert an hour ago. I appericate this article so much. I will now intake on tea biscuits and vanilla puddings 😀 not a bad compromise in my opinion. happy healthy precious baby and happy vanilla eating mommy! 😀 yay!

  21. Great info….. I’m stopping chocolate tonight and for support my husband said he’ll give it up too. Next step is to get it out of the house! Thank you all.

  22. I’m so happy to read this. Ive been eating reeses like crazy since I go home from the hospital. I love dairy too, especially milk. I had tons of it at the hospital. I’m definately going to stop now and see if this helps her with the gas problem that’s going on. I’m seeing her doctor tomorrow. I will ask her a few questions about the gas too. Thank you for the post and comments.

  23. Hi. I have a 2 weeks old baby and breastfeeding, I eat a lot of chocolate, chocolate drink and I think chocolate is what i feed myself the entire day. My baby girl was really gassy. But in my case she poops most of the time. Is it also because of chocolate? Please i need to know immediately.

  24. so as an alternative wat should one take? I hv been taking chocolate since I gave birth two months ago. I am now stopping ASAP.

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