Caffeine and Breastfeeding

You may be worried that drinking coffee or tea while breastfeeding could have a negative effect on your baby. The good news is that most women can still enjoy their favorite caffeinated beverages when nursing their little one. Read on to discover how much caffeine is safe to consume while breastfeeding, and what effects too much caffeine can have on your baby.

How Much Caffeine Can You Have While Breastfeeding?

In easy-to-remember terms, you can probably have up to two or three 8-ounce cups of coffee or five to six 8-ounce cups of black tea per day.

While nursing your baby, it’s generally considered safe to consume about 300 milligrams of caffeine a day. Keep in mind that caffeine isn’t found only in your regular cup of java or chai but also in many other drinks, as well as in certain foods and medications, including:

  • Beverages like sodas and energy drinks

  • Foods like chocolate and coffee ice cream

  • Some over-the-counter pain relievers

  • Some dietary supplements like protein powders and energy bars.

Does Caffeine Affect Your Breastfeeding Baby?

Moderate caffeine consumption by the mom generally doesn’t affect her breastfed baby. However, each little one is unique, so it could be that your baby is affected.

Babies born prematurely and infants who are younger than 6 months old break down caffeine more slowly, which means they may be more likely to be affected by the mom’s caffeine consumption than older babies.

If you’re concerned that your caffeine consumption may be affecting your baby, ask your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What Are the Effects of Caffeine on Your Breastfeeding Baby?

If you're nursing and consume excessive amounts of caffeine (for example, 10 or more cups of coffee per day), your baby might have certain reactions, including:

  • Irritability

  • Fussiness

  • Wakefulness

  • Jitteriness

  • Not sleeping, difficulty remaining asleep, or poor sleep patterns.

What Should You Do If Your Baby Reacts to Caffeine in Breast Milk?

If you think your baby may be reacting to your caffeine intake, it’s a good idea to try reducing the amount you consume each day or to give up caffeine for a few weeks so that it clears your system. But there’s no need to give up breastfeeding in the meantime.

You'll want to eliminate caffeine from your diet gradually—giving up caffeine immediately can result in your experiencing headaches.

Consult your baby’s healthcare provider for guidance if you suspect your baby may be negatively affected by your caffeine intake or if you have any other questions about breastfeeding your baby.

How Much Caffeine Passes to Your Baby Through Breast Milk?

In fact, very little: Less than 1 percent of the caffeine you ingest passes onto your baby through breast milk. For example, if you drink three cups of coffee spread out over the course of a day while nursing your baby, there would be almost no caffeine detected in your baby’s urine.

What Drinks Contain Caffeine and in What Quantity?

Remember, for most women it’s considered safe to consume up to about 300 milligrams of caffeine per day while nursing their baby, which would mean you’d be within the safe limits if you were to have, say, one coffee and one black tea a day. Reach out to your baby's or your own healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a coffee or tea lover, it's good to know how to safely consume drinks or foods with caffeine when breastfeeding, and to be sure you’re ingesting moderate amounts and sticking within the daily recommended limit.

If you’re ever worried about how much caffeine you’re drinking and the effects of caffeine on your baby, talk to your baby’s healthcare provider for guidance.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.