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Running Out of Breastmilk, What to Do?

04 July, 2023
Q I'm a working mother, so I'm pumping my milk to feed my baby, but my supply is going down. What can I do?

I've heard that I shouldn't feed my baby honey. Is this true? Is it important that I feed my baby cereal? I give this to him once a day.

He then eats two jars of peas, green beans, or sweet potatoes later on in the day. What nutritional value is in a cereal that he will not get from the veggies?


In this counseling answer:

Breastfeeding is very important in the second year as well. It is a source of digestible protein and energy that strengthens the child’s immunity.

The best way to increase supply is through suckling.

The second way is by being “well hydrated” to maintain high content of body fluids.

As salmu`alaykum dear sister,

Working mothers! May Allah be with them, they need all the du`aa` and you are no exception.

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A mother should be able to feed her baby freely and without any stress for two years.

Pumping is an alternative. Some people will whisper in your ears to stop breastfeeding because your child is over one-year-old. However, don’t listen to them!

Breastfeeding is very important in the second year as well. It is a source of digestible protein and energy that strengthens the child’s immunity.

As your baby grows older, and he learns to explore his world by crawling and walking, he becomes more exposed to germs and illness.

Sick babies tend to lose their appetite. Breast milk is ideal for sick babies because it is nutritious and easily digested.

How to increase your milk supply?

The best way to increase supply is through suckling.

Suckling is a major stimulus. So, while at home, breastfeed him as much as you can, and adjust his meal times so that he would be a bit hungry when you return from work so that the child suckles more.

The second way is by being “well hydrated” to maintain the high content of body fluids.

  • Drink about three and a half liters of water distributed throughout the whole day even when you are away from your child.
  • Milk is a very good stimulus too.
  • 4-5 cups of helba ( fenugreek) with molasses.
  • 1-2 cups of shamar (fennel).


Your second question was about honey. Honey is a very nutritious substance. It increases body immunity against various viral bacterial and fungal diseases. Honey keeps the gastrointestinal tract healthy and it is a potent anti-allergic.

The best way to take honey is by dissolving it in water “Honey Drink” without added heat and early in the morning. That’s how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to drink it.

Allah  says in the holy Qur’an:

“And your Lord revealed to the bee saying: Make hives in the mountains and in the trees and in what they build, Then eat of all the fruits and walk in the ways of your Lord submissively. There comes forth from within it a beverage of many colors, in which there is healing for men; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect “ (An Nahl 16: 68-69)

I am aware that some pediatricians would prefer giving honey after 12 months out of fear of Botulism. As a nutritionist, I give my children honey after 6th month of age, and I never saw a case of botulism from honey where I live.

However, in some states and in Canada, I know of some cases, so as a rule of thumb for mothers, for a child below one year (which is not your case), it is better you wait.

What nutritional value is in cereal that he will not get from the veggies?

After the age of one, your child needs foods from the same four basic nutrition groups that you do.

A well-balanced diet contains at least one constituent of each group:

*Meat, fish, poultry, eggs

*Dairy products

*Fruits and vegetables

*Cereal grains, potatoes, rice, breads, pasta

Nothing is more important than the other, and nothing can substitute for the other, i.e. he needs cereals and veggies.

He also needs cholesterol and other fats are very important for his normal growth and development, so they should not be restricted during this period.

Why is cereal great?

Plain and simple, cereal is a great way to get a lot of nutrition into a child at one sitting.

In fact, a nutritious cereal is like a multi-vitamin – multi-mineral supplement.

One cup of a nutritious cereal can supply as much as half the daily nutritional requirements for fifteen of the top vitamins and minerals, plus a VERY important element, which is fiber.

What are cereals?

Cereal grains supply most of their food energy as starch. Whole grains are good sources of dietary fiber, essential fatty acids.

They are also a significant source of protein, (needed with other protein sources) and other important nutrients. Some of the famous cereals are Maize, Wheat, Rice, Barley, Sorghums, Millets, Oats, Rye, Triticale, Buckwheat, Fonio, Quinoa.

Wild rice is grown in small amounts in North America and teff is popular in Ethiopia but scarcely known elsewhere

Eat the whole grains rather than the milled ones. Removing the outer layers (milling)markedly lessens their nutritional values.

One of the best grain known is barley. It protects the digestive tract, increases immunity, purify the kidneys, increases good mode, and helps for a quicker recovery from illnesses.

“Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) used to recommend At-Talbina(barley soup) and used to say, “It is disliked (by the patient) although it is beneficial.”
(Buhkari 7#594)

Fresh foods are much more nutritious than packed ones. Only use the packed food in times of need, and try these shopping tips:

Shopping Tips

Read cereal labels and consider these six criteria for healthy cereal. The grains should be whole (e.g. “whole wheat” or “wheat bran,” not just “wheat”).

-The grains should be whole (e.g. “whole wheat” or “wheat bran,” not just “wheat”).

-Protein content should be at least 3 grams per serving

-The total carbohydrate-to-sugar ratio should be no less than four to one.* This means if the “Total Carbohydrate” line says 24 grams, the “sugars” should have a value of 6 grams or less.

That tells you that most of the carbohydrates come from the grain and fibers, not from the added sugars. Also look for the “five and five” rule = Less than 5 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber.

-Zinc content should be 25 to 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

-Iron content should be at least three milligrams per serving (25 to 40 percent of the RDA.)

-Other vitamin and mineral content should be 25 to 40 percent of the RDA.

There are also ingredients a nutritious cereal should not contain.

*Hydrogenated oils

*Dyes or artificial  colors

*Chemical preservatives

Tips on feeding a toddler:

*After age one, your child can eat just about anything, as long as he’s not allergic to it, and as long as it’s in kid-friendly form—either pureed, mashed, or cut into small pieces.

You could go by the “rule of one,”  Serve one tablespoon of each food you’re eating at a meal for each year of your child’s life, plus the breast milk.

*Just beware he can still choke on chunks of food that are hard and large enough to plug his airway, so make sure anything you given him is mashed or cut into small, easily chewable pieces.

Never offer him peanuts, grapes, carrots, whole or large sections of hot dogs, meat sticks, or hard candies.

*Also, make sure your toddler eats only while seated and supervised by an adult. “Eating on the run” increases his risk of choking.

*Be sure the food is cool enough so that it won’t burn his mouth. Test the temperature yourself, because he’ll dig in without considering the heat.

*Avoid foods that are heavily spiced, salted, buttered, or sweetened. These additions prevent your child from experiencing the natural taste of foods, and they may be harmful to his long-term good health.

Further Tips

*By his first birthday (or soon thereafter), he should drink his liquids from a cup.

*Encourage self feeding as it  builds a child’s confidence and helps him practice his fine motor skills.

*You’ll probably notice a sharp drop in your toddler’s appetite after his first birthday. This is normal as his growth rate has slowed, and he really doesn’t require as much food now.

*Avoid overfeeding & remember institutive eating.

*Use sugar and sodium in moderation.

*Food acceptance patterns are learned–keep trying to offer a food that a child may refuse initially– 80% of children will eat a new food if exposed to it ten times in a row.

*Offer water to your child several times per day.

*Expect and tolerate child-like table manners.

*Try juicy cereal, although milk and cereals are “an ideal match”, since the proteins in the milk make up for the few amino acid deficiencies in the grain.

Milk and cereal together mean that a person gets a complete protein meal. However, milk can sometimes be replaced by juices high in vitamin C (such as orange, grapefruit, or tangerine), as they can increase the absorption of iron.

*And always be a good role model.

All my du`aa` to your and lots of kisses to your cute knight.

Disclaimer:The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question.In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

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