Milk and cookies has always been a magical combination. But for breastfeeding moms, these easy homemade lactation cookies and their effect on milk production is even more magical.

By Erica Jackson Curran
November 20, 2020
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Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Getty Images (1)

For breastfeeding moms questioning how to boost their milk supply, the answer may be as simple as grabbing a cookie. Lactation cookies are packed with ingredients that are known to increase milk production—not to mention the fact that munching on a cookie may help reduce stress, a leading killer of breastmilk supply. Considering that, it's no surprise that so many breastfeeding moms find themselves on the hunt for the best lactation cookie recipes.

So what makes lactation cookies special? They look a lot like normal cookies. They often taste like them, too. In fact, if your partner were to raid your lactation cookie supply, they probably wouldn't even know the difference.

But there is a significant difference between lactation cookies and regular ol' cookies—and that difference is galactagogues. According to lactation consultant Andrea Tran of Breastfeeding Confidential, galactagogues are substances that are believed to increase milk production. They may come in the form of prescription medications or herbs such as alfalfa and blessed thistle.

And then there are some galactagogues that conveniently lend themselves to cookie recipes: namely oats, flaxseed, and brewer's yeast. Most lactation cookie recipes are built around these ingredients, while some also include galactagogues like fenugreek and barley.

Here's what these ingredients bring to the breastfeeding table:

  • Oats, specifically old-fashioned rolled oats, are an excellent source of iron. And low iron is bad news for breastmilk supply.
  • Brewer's yeast, not to be confused with baker's yeast, is packed with iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B — all of which can help increase milk supply.
  • Flaxseed contains phytoestrogens as well as omega-3 fatty acids that are great for baby and mama.
  • Barley is a good source of beta-glucan, which can increase prolactin — the main hormone your body needs to produce breastmilk.

Although official evidence is still lacking on whether or not lactation cookies actually increase milk supply, most experts seem to agree that there's no harm in trying. "I certainly don't think they are going to hurt," says Tran, "but I would encourage a mother who is worried about her supply to work with a lactation consultant so she can also try some other more evidence-based methods."

Jessica Madden, M.D., a lactation consultant and Medical Director at Aeroflow Breastpumps, agrees: Don't just stop with lactation cookies. "Mothers with low milk supplies who eat these cookies will have the highest chance of success in increasing their supplies if they also take other actions to increase their milk production," she says. "These include frequent breastfeeding and/or pumping (breast emptying), staying hydrated, and not skipping middle of the night feeds."

With those pointers in mind, here are five of our favorite lactation cookie recipes to try.

Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookie Recipe by How Sweet Eats

Food blogger Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats shared this chocolatey lactation cookie recipe after giving birth to her son Max in 2015. Since then, it's become one of the most popular lactation cookie recipes on the internet. The freezer-friendly dough is packed with chocolate chips, old-fashioned rolled oats, flaxseed, and coconut oil. Get the full cookie recipe.

Gluten-Free Lactation Cookie Recipe by Eating Bird Food

After trying and failing to find a healthy lactation cookie recipe, Eating Bird Food blogger Brittany Mullins decided to develop one of her own. Her lactation cookie recipe is not only gluten-free but also vegan, perfect for mamas whose babies have gluten or dairy intolerances. Her recipe contains less sugar than most, but the enthusiastic commenters don't seem to mind. Get the full cookie recipe.

No-Bake Lactation Cookie Recipe by Lexi's Clean Living

For new moms who need an extra boost of energy—and don't want to wait on the oven to heat up—these no-bake lactation cookies are the perfect solution. Nut butter and honey give these a rich flavor, while cocoa powder and chocolate chips tick the box for chocolate lovers. Get the full cookie recipe.

Low-Calorie Lactation Cookie Recipe by Detoxinista

Breastfeeding moms burn plenty of calories, but some may still prefer a healthier take on the lactation cookie. Detoxinista blogger Megan Gilmore, a certified nutritionist consultant, swaps out refined sugar for coconut sugar in this vegan, gluten-free recipe. This substitution results in a heathier, lower-calorie lactation cookie that may help moms avoid a sugar crash. Get the full cookie recipe.

Oatmeal Lactation Cookie Recipe by Serious Eats

Pretty much all lactation cookie recipes include oats, because they're known to increase milk production. This recipe from Serious Eats is no different, but it ups the oat factor by using oat flour. The recipe also includes a galactagogue found in few other lactation cookie recipes: barley malt syrup. It all adds up to a crunchy confection that earns rave reviews. Get the full cookie recipe.

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