The aim of this study was to investigate the association between daily Se intake and postpartum weight retention (PPWR) among Chinese lactating women, and the impact of their Se nutritional status on infants’ physical development. Se contents in breast milk and plasma collected from 264 lactating Chinese women at the 42nd day postpartum were analysed with inductively coupled plasma MS. Daily Se intake was calculated based on plasma Se concentration. The dietary data of 24-h records on three consecutive days were collected. Infant growth status was evaluated with WHO standards by Z-scores. Linear regression analyses and multinomial logistic regression were conducted to examine the impact of Se disequilibrium (including other factors) on PPWR and growth of infants, respectively. The results indicated that: (1) the daily Se intake of the subjects was negatively associated with their PPWR (B = −0·002, 95 % CI − 0·003, 0·000, P = 0·039); (2) both insufficient Se daily intake (B = −0·001, OR 0·999, 95 % CI 0·998, 1·000, P = 0·014) and low level of Se in milk (B = −0·025, OR 0·975, 95 % CI 0·951, 0·999, P = 0·021) had potential associations with their infants’ wasting, and low level of Se in milk (B = −0·159, OR 0·853, 95 % CI 0·743, 0·980, P = 0·024) had a significant association with their infants’ overweight. In conclusion, the insufficient Se nutritional status of lactating Chinese women was first found as one possible influencing factor of their PPWR as well as low physical development of their offspring.