Eating Sauces When Breastfeeding [Complete Guide]

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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We all love sauces, whether used as a topping, for dipping, or as an ingredient in our favorite dish. However, are there certain sauces that are worse for breastfeeding than others? Let’s discuss it!

All sauces are considered safe for you while breastfeeding, including alcohol-based sauces, tomato sauce, hot sauce, sauces with honey, and more. 

Let’s discuss some common sauces individually and the information regarding their safety, nutrition, potential effects on your baby, and more. Read on!

Safety and Benefits of Sauces When Breastfeeding

Since each sauce has its own implications for nutrition, safety, and more regarding breastfeeding and your breastfed baby, we will discuss each individually. 

soy sauce in white ceramic bowl

Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is a popular sauce used in Asian cuisine. Soy sauce is safe for you while you are breastfeeding. However, soy sauce is typically very salty! Just a mere teaspoon of soy sauce can have over 300 milligrams of sodium (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] Food Database).

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, but they advise that 1,500 milligrams or less are even more ideal for heart health. Therefore, opt for a soy sauce variety that is lower in sodium and use it sparingly. 

Tomato Sauce: Tomato sauce, including ketchup, pizza sauce, and pasta sauce, is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals — such as vitamins K, C, and A — to keep you and your baby healthy while you are breastfeeding.

homemade tomato pizza sauce in a glass jar

However, many breastfeeding mothers worry about tomato sauce because of its acidity. While acidic foods can cause gas or fussiness in your baby, there is no set list of foods to avoid (source: Texas Children’s Hospital).

Therefore, rather than avoid foods out of fear of causing a reaction in your baby, just keep an eye out for patterns when you eat certain foods. 

Hot Sauce: Similarly to acidic foods such as tomatoes, you may worry about consuming spicy foods while you are breastfeeding, such as hot sauce or buffalo sauce. However, there is no reason to avoid spicy foods unless you notice a pattern in your baby’s symptoms, such as gas or fussiness (source: Texas Children’s Hospital).

If you do notice these signs, try steering clear of spicy foods, such as hot sauce, for a week to see if the symptoms resolve. 

Alcohol-Based Sauces: Since alcohol must be avoided during pregnancy, it makes sense that alcohol-based sauces are a subject of question for breastfeeding. Whether you are whipping up your favorite vodka sauce, white wine sauce, or any other alcohol-based sauce, it is fine to consume while breastfeeding.

It is not harmful to an infant for a breastfeeding woman to have one alcoholic drink per day, especially if it is consumed two hours or more before breastfeeding (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]).

An alcohol-based sauce typically has minuscule amounts of alcohol as most of it is cooked off, making it safe for breastfeeding women. 

Hollandaise: Hollandaise is a popular breakfast sauce that is made from raw eggs. Therefore it makes sense that you would be worried about consuming it while breastfeeding.

However, research shows that foodborne bacteria or other microorganisms cannot get passed down to the baby through breast milk (source: CDC). Therefore, while consuming hollandaise may increase your risk of getting sick, it will not impact your baby. 

Fish Sauce, Oyster Sauce, and Worcestershire Sauce: Due to the potential mercury concerns, many breastfeeding women worry about fish sauce or oyster sauce, including Worcestershire sauce.

a bottle of fish sauce

Since the amount of fish in these sauces (as well as the amounts you typically use on your food) is so tiny, there is little concern over mercury when eating these sauces. For example, Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies.

However, it is a very small ingredient, and anchovies are already relatively low in mercury and considered a “Best Choice” (Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration [FDA]).

Though fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and oyster sauce are very high in sodium and therefore should be consumed in moderation and in small amounts. 

Bbq Sauce with Tomatoes, Smoked Salt and fresh Herbs

BBQ Sauce: While BBQ sauce itself does not raise any concerns, many worry about BBQ sauces that contain honey as an ingredient since it is strictly advised to avoid feeding a baby honey until they are at least 12 months old. However, botulism cannot be transmitted through breast milk (source: Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children).

Therefore, there is no need to avoid BBQ sauce with honey in it while you are breastfeeding.

Are There Any Sauces to Avoid When Breastfeeding?

Overall, there are no sauces that need to be avoided during breastfeeding. Certain sauces have some considerations, such as salt content, but none need to be avoided unless you have an allergy. 

I hope this article was a helpful guide in walking through typical sauces and how they can be incorporated into your diet when you are breastfeeding.