Caffeine

WILL CAFFEINE AFFECT MY BABY?

You might be wondering if your morning cup of coffee or tea may have an effect on your baby. The news is good: breastfed babies generally do not suffer ill effects from mother’s moderate caffeine consumption. However, you may want to take the following into consideration:

IS MY BABY MORE LIKELY THAN OTHERS TO REACT TO CAFFEINE?

Babies who are under six months or have other health issues may be more likely to show symptoms (Hale 2017).

WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT MY BABY HAVE?

A baby who is showing signs of caffeine intake may be unusually irritable, fussy, or wakeful. They may have a harder time staying asleep (Mohrbacher 2010).

WHAT OTHER BEVERAGES AND FOODS MIGHT HAVE CAFFEINE IN THEM?

Caffeine can be found in many foods and beverages besides coffee and tea. Some sources include:

  • Foods/beverages:
    • Cocoa/chocolate
    • Coffee
    • Tea (Black tea, green tea and other herbal teas. Some teas are caffeine-free.)
    • Energy drinks
    • Carbonated beverages/soda/pop
    • Sports drinks
    • Flavored water
  • Medications (over-the-counter and prescription):
    • Pain relievers
    • Menstrual relief tablets
    • Weight-loss supplements

Caffeine may not be labeled if it occurs naturally in the food or beverage. Other sources of caffeine which may appear on a label include:

  • Guarana
  • Yerba Mate
  • Kola nuts/Cola

(FDA 2010)

If you aren’t sure if a product has caffeine, check the label if available. Some beverages like coffee, tea, and soda/pop do have caffeine by default unless otherwise labelled.

How much caffeine is safe to consume?

Up to 300 mg of caffeine, or about 2-3 cups of coffee, is safe for breastfeeding mothers to consume (Lauwers & Swisher, 2015). According to the Mayo Clinic, an average 8 oz cup of coffee contains 95 – 165 mg of caffeine and an 8oz cup of black tea can contain 25-48 mg however, strength of coffee/other caffeinated beverage may be different for each individual so it may be helpful to review serving size and nutritional labels prior to drinking.

WHAT CAN I TRY IF I THINK MY BABY IS REACTING TO CAFFEINE?

If you suspect your baby might have an effect from your caffeine intake, try going without for a week or two (Mohrbacher 2010). This will give enough time for the caffeine to clear your system. It is best to reduce your caffeine slowly, as you may experience headaches if you stop too quickly.

References:
Hale, T. W. (2017). Medications & mothers milk. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Mohrbacher, N. (2010). Breastfeeding answers made simple: a pocket guide for helping mothers. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing.
FDA. (2010) Caffeine intake by the US population. Subcontract Number: 70000073494, Somogyi, Laszlo P.
Lauwers, J. & Swisher, A. (2015). Counseling the Nursing Mother: A Lactation Consultants Guide. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. 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