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Can I drink alcohol if I’m breastfeeding?

Now the baby is here and you can finally have the beer you’ve been craving—or can you?

Can I drink alcohol if I’m breastfeeding?

You've spent nine-ish months abstaining from alcohol. Now the baby is here and you can finally have the beer you've been craving—or can you?


If you're breastfeeding and wondering whether or not it's okay to drink, you are not alone.

So here are some of your top questions about alcohol and breastfeeding answered:

Does alcohol affect your milk supply?

You may have heard that certain beers can increase your milk supply. This is true, sort of—studies have found that a sugar in the barley that beer is made from can increase the hormone prolactin, which is involved in triggering let-down, or the release of breast milk.

However in general, research has found that alcohol can slightly decrease your breastmilk production.

And, alcohol may also temporarily change the flavor and smell of your milk, which can impact how much your baby eats—babies tend to nurse slightly more but take in less breast milk after their moms drink.

Does alcohol get into breast milk?

Yes—about 2% of the alcohol consumed gets into your breastmilk.

The alcohol amount in your breast milk peaks about 30 to 60 minutes after you drink, (60 to 90 minutes if you drink while eating).

Essentially, if you feel buzzed or drunk, alcohol is in your breastmilk. When you are feeling sober, your breastmilk is safe.

How does alcohol affect your baby?

When thinking about this, first consider how old your baby is. A newborn's brand new liver will have a harder time processing alcohol than an older baby's. Starting at around 3 months old, a baby's liver is working at full capacity and can process things more like an adult's can.

Regular exposure to alcohol in breast milk—when a woman drinks every day— has been found to cause a decrease an infant's weight gain, and can possibly lead to developmental delays. And, a study found that babies slept less in the hours after consuming breastmilk with alcohol in it.

But no long term affects have been found from occasional drinking.

What's the deal with pumping and dumping?

In the context of drinking alcohol, pumping and dumping is when a breastfeeding woman pumps her milk after she drinks, and then dumps it out or throws it away.

The good news is you really almost never actually have to do this.

Once the alcohol is out of your blood stream, it's out of your breastmilk—it doesn't linger in your breasts until they are emptied.

Pumping also won't speed up the rate that the alcohol is processed by your body. Your liver is handling all that.

It's important to empty your breasts at regular intervals to maintain your milk supply (and for your comfort), so pumping and dumping can be great for this when you're drinking.

Say, for example, you are at a wedding, and your baby is home with grandma. If you are used to nursing every 3 hours, you should try to pump every 3 hours when you are away from your baby. If the milk you pump has alcohol in it, dump it. If not, save it and add it to your freezer stash when you get home.

Okay, but... can I drink?

Dr. Jack Newman of La Leche League International says, “Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all... very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers."

[Buys Dr. Jack Newman a beer.]

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the “ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be minimized and limited to an occasional intake [which is approximately]... 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers."

They also state that “nursing should take place two hours or longer after the alcohol intake to minimize its concentration in the ingested milk."

All this to say that for the most part, drinking in moderation when you are breastfeeding is okay. Hurray!

I am not one to tell you what to do with your body, so instead I'll tell you what I decided to do with mine when I was breastfeeding my three babies—

I had a few glasses of wine a week. I'd nurse the baby, then sit down to dinner with a glass of wine. That way, by the time the baby was hungry again, the effects of the wine were worn off.

If one glass turned into two glasses of wine (which happened a few times ?), and the baby got hungry while I could still feel the affects of the wine, I would pump and dump, and ask my husband to give them a bottle of non-alcoholic breastmilk from the freezer.

Certainly this comes with caveats of course. Some babies may be more sensitive than others to alcohol, so it's a good idea to check in with your doctor about their recommendations first.

And, it's important to think about safety—if you're drinking, never drive and make sure that someone sober is on hand to take care of the baby.

Cheers!

If you're avoiding alcohol altogether or want to have another round without worry, check out our favorite alcohol-free way to toast an evening.

TÖST non-alcoholic refresher

T\u00d6ST non-alcoholic refresher

Not overly sweet and totally sophisticated, this sparkling blend of white tea, cranberry and ginger pairs perfectly with everything from the fanciest charcuterie board to late night nachos. If you are drinking alcohol, it also makes a great mixer. It comes in a pack of 6 (or 12!) so don't worry about only saving for special occasions.

$50

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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