Breastfeeding A to Z

Caffeine While Breastfeeding

Caffeine can be consumed while breastfeeding.

It is recommended you have 300 mg of caffeine or less each 24 hour period. (1)  The amount of caffeine that passes into breastmilk is approximately 1-2% of the mother’s dose. (1)  However, caffeine has been shown to accumulate in your baby’s system.(2)

Even though this might seem like a small amount to you, (potentially one cup of coffee) that same amount takes longer to clear your baby’s system.  Since it can build up in your baby’s system, and take longer for them to clear it out, it can have a greater effect on them.  This can cause a fussy, irritable and/or wide awake baby.  If you notice your baby being fussy, irritable or more wide awake, try eliminating the caffeine and see if it helps.  Otherwise, there can be other reasons your baby is fussy, irritable or more wide awake than what you are eating and drinking.

Check the label or nutrition information for products you use with caffeine.  Remember medicine and energy drinks may contain caffeine as well.  A partial list of caffeine content in food/beverages:

Caffeine Content (3)

Regular or diet soda pop 4-60 mg/12 ounces (360 milliliters)

Coffee ground, roasted or percolated 75-155 mg/8 ounces (240 milliliters)

Instant coffee 66 mg/8 ounces (240 milliliters)

Regular tea 28-44 mg/8 ounces (240 milliliters)

Instant tea 24-131 mg/8 ounces (240 milliliters)

Chocolate 5-20 mg/item

Note: Typically the longer tea or coffee is steeped or brewed the greater the caffeine content.

References:

  1. Mannel, R, Marten, PJ, Walker, M, Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd edition, Burlington, MA, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013, p 331.
  2. Lawrence, RA, Lawrence, RM, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional, 7th edition, Maryland Heights, MO, Elsevier Mosby, 2011, p 379.
  3. Pennington, J, Bowes & Church Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, 16th edition, 1994, Caffeine content, pp 381-82.