Caffeine and Breastfeeding Babies
Many women consume caffeine on a daily basis prior to pregnancy. Many women give up caffeine during pregnancy. Those who do not abstain from caffeine still tend to limit the amount of caffeine they consume each day. Caffeine consumption in pregnancy should be limited to about 150 to 300 mg per day. If you have given up caffeine during pregnancy, you might simply stay on the anti-caffeine bandwagon for a while during lactation.
This is typically just simpler for everyone involved. But if you are still consuming caffeine or if you start consuming caffeine, you will need to watch your baby for signs that it is bothering her. Although caffeine is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as a “safe” drug for lactation, you should still attempt to limit your caffeine consumption. There are health benefits for you, such as being less jittery and able to sleep better when you do not have caffeine in your system, and these will probably hold true for your baby too!
That being said, not all babies are bothered by caffeine, even though it is a stimulant. But if your baby is bothered, you might notice wakefulness in excess of normal. You might also see agitation or restlessness, even screaming. Cutting out caffeine to see whether the symptoms go away is the only real way to tell whether that is the source. The problem is that it can actually take days for you to notice a difference in caffeine reduction.
Caffeine is also something that your baby will grow to tolerate typically. So if your newborn is sensitive to caffeine, your six-month-old might not be so sensitive. This means you might wait to start your caffeine consumption.
Caffeine peaks in your breast milk in about an hour. How long it hangs out there really varies. For a newborn, the half-life of caffeine, or the amount of time it takes for half of the caffeine you have consumed to be gone from your milk, is up to four days. However, in a six-month-old, that time frame is closer to about two and a half hours.
Use caffeine wisely. Avoid it later in the day if you must consume it. Watch your baby for signs of sensitivity. And look for hidden sources of caffeine, such as chocolate, various foods, and teas.
You may also be interested in: What to eat while breastfeeding
Will the caffeine in my morning coffee pass through to my milk?
Yes, in approximately half an hour. Decaffeinated coffees still contain some caffeine, as do black teas. If you must have the odd coffee, make sure that it is not before the important morning feeding when your milk is plentiful and nutritious after your night’s rest. If you must drink coffee, wait until after the first feeding and long before the next to reduce the caffeine in your milk.
Caffeine in Common Beverages, Foods and Medications
Key – Product: Caffiene (milligrams)
Generic brewed, 8 oz: 95-200mg
Generic brewed, decaffeinated, 8 oz: 2-12mg
Generic instant, 8 oz: 27-173mg
Generic instant, decaffeinated, 8 oz: 2-12mg
Black tea, 8 oz: 40-120mg
Black tea, decaffeinated, 8 oz: 2-10mg
AriZona Green Tea, 16 oz: 15mg
Generic instant mix, unsweetened, 1 tsp: 27mg
Generic instant mix, decaffeinated, unsweetened, 1 tsp: 1mg
Nestea Iced Tea, 12 oz: 26mg
Soft drink, 12 ounces
7-Up, regular or diet: 0mg
Barq’s Root Beer, regular or diet: 23mg
Coca-Cola Classic: 35mg
Diet Coke: 47mg
Dr. Pepper, regular or diet: 42-44mg
Mountain Dew, regular or diet: 54mg
Mug Root Beer, regular or diet: 0mg
Pepsi, regular or diet: 36-38
Candy and gum:
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar, 1.55 oz: 9mg
Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar, 1.45 oz: 31mg
Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, 8 oz: 84mg
Haagen-Dazs Coffee ice cream, 8 oz: 58mg
Anacin, Maximum Strength, 2 tablets: 64mg
Excedrin Extra Strength, 2 tablets: 130mg
NoDoz, Maximum Strength, 1 tablet: 200mg
Adapted from USDA National Nutrition Database for Standard Reference, 2009; Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2007; Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 2008; Journal of Food Science, 2007.
If you have assessed your daily caffeine intake and determined that you’re overdoing it, gradually cut back over a period of two to three weeks to minimize withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, tiredness or muscle pain. Start by eliminating caffeine from the latter part of your day. Stick to a “no caffeine” rule after noon. Switch to low-caffeine beverages, like tea or hot chocolate, or caffeine-free alternatives such as decaf coffee, herbal tea, cereal coffee, juice, milk or water. If you’re still hooked on coffee, order a latte or cappuccino to get extra calcium. And if your gut is sensitive to lactose in milk, try a soy latte (make sure the soy beverage is calcium fortified).
We recommend reading the article: Drinking while breastfeeding