Snack Hacks for New Moms

Over the course of nine months of pregnancy, you developed a special relationship with food.  I know I did.  You learned to eat small meals and snacks often and to eat whatever you could tolerate eating.  It was easy, almost expected, to give into cravings.  Now your baby has been born and you are home from the hospital.  During the first week or two, your house was full of helpers who doted on you as a new mom.  “What can I get you to eat?”  They asked.  Now they are all gone, and you are hungry.

I learned very quickly that your obsession with food doesn’t end with pregnancy.  If you are breastfeeding, you need an extra 500 calories a day!  But your new baby is nothing if not demanding.  If food wasn’t sitting out, ready to grab and go, it wasn’t going to get eaten.  It is easy as a new mom to descend into eating junk food.  Worse, you may not eat at all and get hangry or even dizzy.  Here are some tips for getting healthy snacks as a new mom.

1.  Pre-Prep

When I was working, I would make a lunch every night so it was ready to grab and go the next day.  I always chanted a made-up checklist while I gathered my lunch, “Fruit, veggie, sweet, salty.”  If you want to eat healthy and balanced, prep your snacks the night before or on Sunday evening.  If there is still someone available to help, perhaps ask them to do the prep work for you.  Yes, it may cut into your precious sleep by about 30 minutes, but you will appreciate it during the week when there are snacks on hand.  Here are some pre-prepped snack ideas:

  • Chop up veggies and fruits
  • Boil eggs
  • Slice cheese
  • Peel oranges, slice apples (they don’t brown up as fast as you would fear), and take grapes off their stems
  • Dish out and allocate portions of your snacks into tupperwares
  • Pour your morning cereal into a bowl and set on the counter next to your vitamins – every little bit of prep work helps!

2.  Think Protein

Try to have some protein in each of your snacks throughout the day.  My main sources of protein are dairy, eggs, and nuts.  Here are some quick ideas for protein snacks:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • String cheese
  • Peanut butter and apples
  • Individually packed yogurts – add flax seed for additional protein and to help with milk supply
  • Almonds – I either purchase 100 calorie almond packs from Aldi, or you can measure out about 2 tablespoons of almonds into a small tupperware

Avoid soft cheeses on crackers.  It may seem silly, but the process of spreading cheese on a cracker takes too long and pushes a snack out of that grab-and-go category you are looking for as a new mom.

3.  Take Your Veggies With

I have a rule that whenever I leave the house, I take a plastic cup full of vegetables to snack on in the car.  This generally means slices of celery.  You can also take baby carrots or carrot slices, fresh green beans, or even broccoli (take some gum, too).  If you have pre-cut your veggies, you can put the baby in her carrier and throw the veggies in their cup.  Nestle the cup between your baby’s legs as you carry her out to the car.  (This only works until she becomes grabby).  For an even faster grab and go snack, have the veggies already allocated to little cups in the fridge the night before.

4.  Snack with Every Feeding

You will get so hungry when you are breastfeeding.  The best way to take care of the baby is to take care of yourself.  Don’t allow yourself to get overly hungry.  Every time you feed the baby, have a snack, even a small snack.  This includes a little snack overnight.

5.  Have a Special Place for Snacks

Select your healthy snacks and leave them on the counter (unless they require refrigeration) or select a shelf in your pantry for your snacks.  If your snacks require refrigeration, give them a special shelf in the fridge.  This helps with the grab and go mentality.

6.  Water Water Everywhere

Don’t forget water’s special place in keeping you fueled as a new mom.  If you have a snack with every feeding, also have a full glass of water with every feeding.  Give yourself a glass of Gatorade or Powerade each day as well – this will replenish your electrolytes and help with your milk supply.  (Some people swear by blue Gatorade, but I’m not sure the color makes a difference).

I keep glasses all over the house – in the baby’s room, in our room, in the kitchen, in the living room, and right where I nurse.  It is my challenge to keep these glasses half full – and then drain them. For instance, if I wake up and see a half glass of water on my nightstand, I down it.  Then I fill it full of water again.  The next time I pass my nightstand and see the full glass of water, I challenge myself to drink at least half of it.

7.  Fruits and Veggies

Stock your fridge with your favorite fruits and veggies.  I can’t tell you what those would be – you have to decide on your favorites yourself.  Here are some of my favorites that are quick and easy to go:

  • Apple slices
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Bananas
  • Celery sticks
  • Baby carrots
  • Green beans
  • Prunes!  Yes, prunes.  They are your friend after delivery, and they are really pretty delicious.  I like to leave the bag open on the counter so that they become chewy.  The best part is that you don’t have to wait for them to go on sale, since they are pre-packaged.

Other fruits that my family loves (strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe) all take a lot of prep work: washing, cutting, storing.  Make sure to do the prep work when you have extra help around or, better yet, ask your husband to do it.

8.  Sweets and Salties

Just because we want to eat healthy doesn’t mean that we can’t have a few yummy snacks sometimes.  My philosophy is all things in moderation, which is why I allow my self a salty and a sweet snack each day.  Again, what you like is going to be a personal decision, especially when it comes to your sweet.  After nine months of pregnancy, my go-to sweet was chocolate chip cookie dough!  I separated the dough into balls and then froze them.  They were quick and easy to grab.  If you like ice cream, consider ice cream bars, pre scooping the ice cream into bowls, or purchasing small pints.

If you are indulging in a salty snack, pour it into a bowl to moderate the amount.  It’s easy to munch through a half a bag of Cheetos if you are not watching.  Not all salty snacks have to be unhealthy.  Some of my go-tos are popcorn and pea crisps.

Again, pre-measuring the night before helps.  If you see your sweet and salty snack sitting on the counter ready to go, you can indulge, but then the rest of the goodies are hidden away.  During the lonely days at home, it’s easy to turn to unhealthy snacks as comfort food.  Prepare ahead to avoid temptation.

9.  Lactation Cookies

Don’t forget the number one snack for new moms – lactation cookies!  There are many ways to make lactation cookies.  Most include oatmeal and other milk producing ingredients, such as almonds, coconut oil, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast.  My favorite lactation cookies are no bake cookies, and you can find the recipe here.  Because they contain a lot of peanut butter, they are a good source of protein in addition to being a nice way to curb a sweet tooth.

10.  Peanut Products

Peanut products can be a great source of protein.  In addition, by eating peanut products when you are breastfeeding you can help sensitize your baby to peanuts.  New research shows that exposure to potential allergens can help prevent an allergic reaction in children.  Eating these foods when pregnant or breastfeeding can help sensitize your child to the allergens before she eats the food directly.

Bonus: Share the Love

If you are taking meals to new moms, consider preparing some of these grab and go snacks for her!

And there you have it!  These might not feel like the good old days if you are hangry with a newborn.  But follow these steps for healthy snacks, and you will be feeling better in no time!  What’s your favorite go-to snack as a new mom?

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