Easy and Healthy Breastfeeding Snack Ideas

Last Updated: June 11, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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A list of breastfeeding snack ideas is worth its weight in gold when you’re a nursing mama. If that’s you now, then you know that breastfeeding hunger is pretty intense!

A lot of mamas agree that they’re hungrier and have more intense cravings while nursing their babies than they did during pregnancy – which tells you a lot.

Here you’ll find a list of easy and healthy breastfeeding snack ideas to keep you nourished and fueled in between meals.

You’ll also learn about why breastfeeding makes you so dang hungry and other things that may be contributing to your insane hunger as a postpartum mama.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

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Does breastfeeding make you hungry?

The quick answer? Yes, breastfeeding makes you hungry! Your body is working hard to produce milk for your baby, which uses up a lot of your energy.

As you probably know, breast milk is a complete source of food for your baby. It’s packed with vitamins, fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, immune boosters, enzymes, and more.

Making that kind of a superfood is a lot of work, and your body will draw on its nutrients, fat, and the calories you consume to make it possible. All of this is what’s making you – a lactating mother – so dang hungry!

How many calories do I need while breastfeeding?

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, breastfeeding women who aren’t trying to lose weight should consume an additional 450 to 500 calories per day. But as you can imagine, it’s a little bit more nuanced than that.

Here are some factors that influence how many additional calories you need while breastfeeding:

  • How active you are day-to-day
  • If you are exercising
  • What type of exercise you’re doing
  • How much weight you gained during pregnancy
  • Your body’s available nutrients and fat stores

Basically, while breastfeeding burns an average of 300 to 500 extra calories per day, some women don’t actually need to eat extra calories to make that possible – but some women do!

Many nutritionists recommend eating to hunger – but I know that can be frustrating guidance when you feel hungry all the time (and may even be gaining weight while breastfeeding).

4 other reasons you’re so hungry while breastfeeding

It’s important to keep in mind that milk production might not be the only thing causing you to feel extra hungry these days.

1. Sleep deprivation

When you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are more likely to have cravings for carbohydrates and sugar. This is because your body is looking for a quick boost of energy to combat the lack of sleep.

The problem? By consuming simple carbs and added sugar you do get that quick energy boost, but alone these foods simply don’t keep you full or create any lasting energy. Instead, you can expect to be left feeling even more tired and hungry again in a short time.

2. What you’re eating

Building on that, even if you’re not experiencing sleep deprivation (lucky!), your breastfeeding hunger might be driving you to crave sugary, carb-loaded snacks that aren’t keeping you full.

So again, we see the importance of what you’re eating in staying fuller longer.

3. Hormones

I probably don’t have to remind you that postpartum is a time when your hormones are on a roller coaster. While I’m not qualified to get into the specifics of what’s going on, I do know enough to tell you that when your hormones are in a state of imbalance (even if that’s completely normal and expected!) it can impact your metabolism and your hunger cues.

4. Stress

Postpartum life can be pretty stressful for a lot of mamas. And when you’re stressed, your body produces the main stress hormone: cortisol. Cortisol is known to increase appetite (and cravings for sugary foods!), which might also be contributing to your hunger as a breastfeeding mom.

Finding ways to combat these other factors can help you feel fuller and help you achieve your weight loss goals (if that is your motivation!). It may be through relaxation techniques, plans to try to improve sleep, and ways to generally lower stress and anxiety.

But what’s one of the most powerful tools to combat breastfeeding hunger? Smart snacking. Because this is something you can really control. So let’s talk more about it, mama.

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Breastfeeding snacks

Now that you understand the reason behind that insane breastfeeding hunger – let’s talk about snacks! Snacking between meals is one of the best ways to keep yourself satiated throughout the day, even out your blood sugar, and ensure you’re getting enough calories.

Mindfulness behind your snacking will help you feel fuller for longer, and it will help you avoid grabbing the first bag of carbs in sight (guilty!).

Two quick tips to keep in mind whenever your breastfeeding hunger strikes between meals:

  • Think of your snacks as “mini meals” and try to include 2-3 food groups
  • When in doubt, pair a carb with a protein for a solid energy boost and more staying power

Milk-making power foods

Before we get into the breastfeeding snacks, I want to give you a list of some foods that are good for breast milk production. You’ll notice a lot of these are incorporated in the snack list below, so I think it makes sense to why!

Note that this is by NO means an exhaustive list of power foods for breastfeeding mamas. But these are some good ones to keep in mind because they’re easily accessible!

  • Avocados: All hail the mighty avocado! Avocados are a good source of B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They also help you stay fuller, longer! Avocados are nearly 80 percent heart-healthy fats and help maintain a feeling of fullness
  • Nuts: Nuts are high in essential minerals, such as iron, calcium, and zinc, as well as vitamin K and B vitamins. They are also a healthy source of essential fatty acids and protein. Beyond their phenomenal nutritional makeup, nuts are also regarded as lactogenic foods in many parts of the world
  • Hummus/chickpeas: Legumes are a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytoestrogens. Chickpeas have been used as a galactagogue since ancient Egypt
  • Oats: There’s actually very little scientific evidence that supports oats in increasing milk production, though lactation pros hypothesize that increased milk after consuming oats could be connected to its high levels of iron
  • Low-fat dairy: Whether you prefer yogurt, milk, or cheese, low-fat dairy products are an important part of healthy breastfeeding. Milk delivers a boost of bone-strengthening vitamin D and calcium. If you’re breastfeeding, your milk is loaded with calcium to help your baby’s bones develop. It is important for you to eat enough calcium to meet your own needs too

Related Reading: 30 Different Ways to Boost Your Milk Supply

10 Healthy breastfeeding snack ideas

Use the snacks below as a jumping-off point for other, similar snack ideas. Swap out for like ingredients and this list of 10 ideas, can quickly become 30+ different options so you don’t get bored.

1. Apples and peanut butter

Apples are delicious, easy to come by, and affordable. They also happen to be a great source of vitamins and fiber.

Pairing them with peanut butter – a good source of protein and healthy fat – will seriously fill you up. Customize this snack by using almond butter or another nut butter for some variety.

2. Chicken with nuts and grapes

If you’re having chicken for dinner, make a little extra to have leftovers in the fridge. Diced-up chicken mixed with nuts, grapes, and a little mayo is a delicious chicken salad combination!

3. Cheese and crackers

An old standby – and for good reason! Cheese is a good source of protein and fat to keep you full, and whole-grain crackers provide you with much-needed fiber for the postpartum days.

What I love about this option is how much you can customize it by using your favorite types of cheese and crackers!

4. Greek yogurt with fruit

We recommend Greek yogurt specifically because it is such a great source of protein, and by opting for plain Greek yogurt, you’ll avoid added sugar.

Combining it with berries and honey will sweeten it right up for you! For extra crunch, calories, and variety consider adding in granola, nuts, and/or oats too.

5. Cottage cheese and fruit

Cottage cheese is a great low-calorie, high-protein snack option. It’s a little plain on its own, but add in some fresh fruit and you’ve got a delicious option to eat with a spoon.

You can also use this combination as a dip or topping for graham crackers, rice cakes, or even oatmeal.

6. Hummus and veggies

Hummus is a good source of protein and healthy fats and when paired with fresh veggies – you get a ton of nutrients in every bite!

This is a great choice because you can pick snacking veggies that you love. Prepping veggies for easy snacking in bulk can be a real game-changer throughout the week. There are so many different hummus varieties out there, which keeps this snack from feeling boring.

7. Rice cake with peanut butter and banana

So simple, but so filling and delicious. Again, you’re getting that protein and fat boost from the peanut butter, the crunchy fiber from the rice cake (bonus points for brown rice cakes), and the sweetness from the banana without any added sugar.

This can be tweaked with different kinds of nut butter and different fresh fruit toppings. Rice cake + SunButter + blueberries are one of my favorite versions of this snack!

8. Energy balls

Energy balls made with oats, nuts/nut butter, and dried fruits are easy to make in bulk and great for quick snacking. What’s more, the addition of oats (and some other ingredients) may even help boost your supply.

Energy balls are a great source of protein and fiber and like so many of the suggestions on this list – they can be customized to your liking.

9. Avocado toast with a protein topping

Avocado toast is a great source of healthy fat that is quick and easy to create. Top it with sliced hardboiled eggs, scrambled eggs, or smoked salmon for an added protein boost!

10. Smoothies

A smoothie is such a convenient (and delicious!) way to get a lot of nutrients into a single drink you can sip on the go. I just love how customizable they are too!

You can find a variety of inspiring recipes online, but it’s also so easy to wing it. You can include fresh fruit, frozen fruit, leafy greens, nut butter, yogurt, kefir, cow’s milk, milk alternatives, chia seeds, oats, protein powder – the list goes on and on!

Learn more about breastfeeding nutrition

In this article, you learned about breastfeeding hunger and other factors that contribute to general postpartum hunger.

What’s more, you now have a robust list of breastfeeding snack ideas in your pocket, with tons of ways to customize the options so you never get bored.

But if you want to continue learning – these articles can help you out!

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Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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