The CDC states that caffeine consumption in moderation (300mg) is considered generally safe for most breastfeeding moms and their little ones.

 

 Your baby's reaction to caffeine will depend on a number of factors:

- Is your baby a newborn or preterm? “ Babies who are premature, under six months or have other health issues may be more likely to show symptoms because they take longer to clear caffeine from their systems.” (Hale 2019) "Caffeine clearance is very low in preterm and newborn infants, but reaches adult values by 3 to 4 months of age." (McNamara 2004)

- Does your baby have a heart condition?

- Does your baby have gastro-esophageal reflux disease?

If your baby has any of the above, use extreme caution as caffeine may affect these conditions. 

 

Does caffeine pass through breastmilk ? 

It is estimated that between 0.06% and 1.5% of maternal caffeine consumed is transferred to the infant via breastmilk. (Hale 2021)

Example: You consume 300mg of caffeine a day, your little one would get between 0.18 mg and 4.5mg of caffeine. For comparison, neonates in the NICU often receive around 5 mg/kg of caffeine as a treatment for breathing issues.

According to the Mayo Clinic, an average 8 oz cup of coffee contains 96 mg of caffeine and an 8oz cup of black tea can contain 47 mg. The amount will vary depending on the brand/ type of product, so please read the nutrition facts!

Coffee intake of more than 450mg daily may decrease breastmilk iron concentrations and result in mild iron deficiency anemia in some breastfed infants. (Munoz 1988)

Some food/drinks with caffeine other than coffee: 

- Chocolate, Cocoa

- Soda, tea, flavored water, and energy drinks

- Some pain relief, Menstrual relief tablets

- Some supplements such as protein powders and energy bars

 

Some babies are more sensitive than others— If your baby is sensitive to caffeine, it will typically become less of an issue as baby gets older.

Symptoms to look out for: 

- Trouble sleeping

- Irritability, Fussiness

- Unusual alertness and hyperactivity

- Extreme reactions to minimal stimulation

Note: Caffeine levels in breastmilk peak at approximately 60minutes, so you can feed your little one first and have a coffee after! 

 

References: 

Hale, T. W. (2019). Medications & Mothers’ Milk. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, LLC. 2019.

McNamara PJ, Abbassi M. Neonatal exposure to drugs in breast milk. Pharm Res. 2004;21:555–66. [PubMed]

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372

CDC, Maternal Diet, October 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/maternal-diet.html 

Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Breastfeeding, Caffeine, and Energy Drinks, April 2021 https://www.infantrisk.com/content/breastfeeding-caffeine-and-energy-drinks