Caffeine, coffee and breastfeeding

The conclusion at the start

  • The research is unclear, but most state in moderation and suggest mums don’t overdo intake.
  • Some research shows coffee is fine others show not
  • Caffeine is broken down in the adult body quicker than the baby. Therefore it makes sense to NOT have caffeine as it says in the baby’s system longer and obviously they are smaller. This is the quote of particular interest and where it comes from:

… adults have the caffeine elimination of about 5 hours, babies have the half-life of four days…

This means that caffeine stays in the baby for 4 DAYS! So if you really want to find out if caffeine is affecting your baby you need to not drink it yourself for at least 5 days to notice a difference.

  • Many foods have caffeine not just coffee. For example chocolate. See the lists below –>


Think of you and your baby as one. If coffee gives you the jitters then it will probably affect your baby the same. If you cope with coffee okay yourself  then PERHAPS your baby will be okay too


If your baby is not sleeping well and is fussy and upset then experiment with going caffeine free. The choice is yours.. Not sleeping baby or maybe happy baby but no coffee


There are many other reasons for a crying, colicky, not sleeping baby other than caffeine in your breast milk. See Calming Colic for more details:

Comment from Christian:

I speak about caffeine intake and whether it gets into breast milk very often with mums that see me in my clinic. However, 99% of the time there are other issues that are more likely to be upsetting your baby. Yes, take the caffeine into account but you must look at the other more relevant causes that your baby has colic or is crying. This include having antibiotics, having a C-section, traumatic delivery or maybe over eating another food whilst you are breastfeeding. Also have a watch of the video on these pages to learn more after you have read this page:

Do Antibiotics Cause colic?

Does a C-Section Cause Colic

Help Colic with Probiotics


Most breastfeeding mothers can drink caffeine in moderation Several studies have given us a general idea of the transfer of caffeine from mother’s blood to her milk. After a cup of coffee, caffeine is rapidly absorbed into mother’s blood and then passively diffuses across the epithelial layers of the mammary gland. Caffeine appears in milk within 15 minutes after intake and peaks within an hour. The concentration of caffeine in breast milk ends up being about 80–90% of that in mother’s plasma. However, taking into account the amount of breast milk consumed and adjusting for body weight, the infant receives no more than 10% of the maternal dose of caffeine. Per Medications and Mother’s Milk (Hale 2017, p. 139-140) caffeine is in Lactation Risk Category L2 (safer); milk levels are quite low (0.06-1.5% of maternal dose).

As mentioned then the amount is small, as it would be for all foods. It is more about how the mother and baby process the caffeine.

Is this amount of caffeine safe for a baby?

Just because levels of caffeine in breast milk are low relative to what adults normally consume doesn’t mean that these amounts are necessarily safe to a baby. Another important factor is how efficiently a baby can metabolize caffeine, and it turns out that newborn caffeine metabolism is very slow. Some babies, particularly those under six months, may be more sensitive to mom’s caffeine intake.

Whereas the half-life of caffeine in adults is around 2-6 hours, it is an average of 3-4 days in newborns and can be even slower in premature babies.As the baby matures and the necessary enzyme levels become active, and most babies can metabolize caffeine at rates similar to adults by 5-6 months of age.

However ,it must be taken into account that there is a lot of baby-to-baby variation in caffeine metabolism.

Does it effects on Child’s behavior and sleep pattern?

Many studies have been conducted in order to know the effects of caffeine on baby’s sleep of breastfeeding mother . A 1984 study included 11 mother-baby pairs (3-10 weeks of age) in a crossover design, they asked mother, to drink 5 cups of decaffeinated coffee per day for five days and then five cups of caffeinated coffee (500 mg) per day for another five days. During the caffeinated period, the infants absorbed caffeine as expected, but there was no difference in their heart rates or sleep times. A more recent study, conducted in Brazil and published in Pediatrics in 2012, carefully monitored maternal caffeine intake through pregnancy and during breastfeeding. 885 mothers  of  3-month-old infants recorded their babies’ sleeping patterns for 15 days. There were no significant differences in the sleep patterns of the babies based on maternal caffeine consumption, even in mothers consuming more than 300 mg per day.

Regardless of studies, your most important data point is always your baby. Your baby could be one of those with really slow caffeine metabolism and may be more sensitive to your caffeine intake. Since you’re unable to measure your baby’s caffeine half-life ( because this requires repeated blood draws), your best indicator is your baby’s behavior and how you react to caffeine yourself.

 Amount of caffeine in coffee, teas and chocolates.

Many factors influence caffeine levels in coffee, so the amounts for each drink can vary widely. However this general guides the amount of caffeine in coffee,

•    Drip Brewed Arabica Coffee (6 oz) – 80-130 mg (often around 110 mg)

•    Drip Brewed Robusta Coffee (6 oz) – 140-200 mg

•    Drip Brewed Passiona Excelsa/Arabica Low-Caffeine Coffee Blend (6 fl oz) – 40-60 mg

•    Instant Coffee (8 oz) – 27-173 mg (often around 65 to 90 mg)

•    Instant Decaf Coffee (8 oz) – 2-12 mg

•    Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee (16 oz) – 143-206 mg

•    Einstein Bros. Coffee (16 oz) – 206 mg

•    Percolated Coffee (5 fl oz) – 80-135 mg

Caffeine in Tea

There are many factors influencing caffeine levels in tea, including brewing time, temperature, tea grade, and variety of tea.

Some types of teas are caffeine free i.e.Tisanes or herbal teas. Similarly, teas blended with other ingredients (such as mint green teas ) will often have the lower amount of caffeine than unblended teas.

Different studies showed black tea has between 40 and 120 mg caffeine per eight-ounce serving. Decaf black tea usually contains about 2 to 10 mg of caffeine.

Amount of caffeine in different teas given below:

•    Assam Black Te) – 86 mg

•    Bai Mu Dan / China White Tea – 75 mg

•    Chinese Ti Kuan Yin Oolong – 37 mg

•    Darjeeling Autumnal (SFTGFOP1 Grade) Darjeeling White Tea – 56 mg

•    Indian Green Tea – 59 mg

•    Kenyan Green Tea – 58 mg

Ceylon Black Tea (OP Grade) – 58 mg

Caffeine in green tea.

In short,  a cup of pure green tea contains around 25 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving.

This is low amount of caffeine roughly 1/4 the amount of caffeine present in a typical cup of coffee and roughly 1/2 the amount of caffeine in a typical cup of black tea.

For some idea of the variance of caffeine levels in green tea, here are some samples of caffeine measurements listed in The Journal of Food Science. All samples were made from eight ounces water per two grams dry green tea.

•    Stash Tea Decaf Green – 7.6 mg

•    Celestial Seasonings Green Tea – 12 mg

•    Ten Ren Green Tea – 16.4 mg

•    Lipton Green Tea – 16.4 mg

•    Stash Tea Organic Green Tea – 27 mg

•    Stash Tea Premium Green Tea – 30.2 mg

•    Peet’s Coffee Green Tea – 33.4 mg

•    Stash Tea Dragonwell Exotica Green Tea – 47.8 mg

•    (3)

Caffeine in Chocolate

A 1-ounce square of unsweetened baking chocolate contains 23 milligrams of caffeine.

A large 3.5-ounce bar of very dark chocolate, which contains 70 percent to 85 percent cocoa, averages 80 milligrams of caffeine.

Regular dark chocolate, with 50 percent to 69 percent cocoa, contains around 70 milligrams in a 3.5-ounce bar.

The same amount of plain milk chocolate contains 20 milligrams of caffeine. Hot cocoa averages 9 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup.


1.Caffeine and Breastfeeding

by Alice Callahan on August 8, 2014

the science of Mom.

2.How Much Caffeine Is present in Coffee, Tea, Cola, & Other Drinks?

By Lindsey Goodwin.

Updated 04/12/17

3.Caffeine in Chocolate Versus Coffee

by Virginia Van Vync.

4.Medications and Mothers’ Milk 2017 17th Edition

by Dr. Thomas W. Hale Ph.D. (Author), Dr. Hilary E. Rowe PharmD (Author

Children, pregnant women and breast-feeding women

Based on current scientific opinions on the safety of caffeine, we advise that children, or other people sensitive to caffeine, should only consume caffeine in moderation. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are advised not to have more than 200mg of caffeine over the course of a day, which is roughly two mugs of instant coffee or one mug of filter coffee. Drinks like espresso and lattes, which are made from ground coffee, typically contain higher levels of caffeine per mug. Further advice on caffeine consumption during pregnancy and breast feeding can be found on the NHS Choices website via the link on this page.

J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Feb;13(1):6-21.

Consequences on the newborn of chronic maternal consumption of coffee during gestation and lactation: a review.

Nehlig A1, Debry G.

Author information


The present review is devoted to effects on the newborn of maternal ingestion of caffeine during gestation and lactation. In rodents, caffeine is able to induce malformations, but usually at high doses never encountered in humans; indeed, when caffeine is administered in fractioned quantities during the day, as it is the case with human caffeine intake, caffeine is no longer a teratogen in rodents. Caffeine ingested during gestation induces a dose-dependent decrease in body weight, but only for large doses (> 7 cups/day of coffee), whereas it has no effect at moderate doses. Maternal caffeine consumption during gestation affects hematologic parameters in both rat and human infants and induces long-term effects on sleep, locomotion, learning abilities, emotivity and anxiety in rodent offspring, whereas in humans, more studies are needed to determine the consequences of early caffeine exposure on behavior. Investigators do not agree on the quantities of the methylxanthine found in breast milk, but caffeine does not change breast milk composition, and rather, stimulates milk production. We conclude in this review that maternal caffeine consumption in moderate amounts during gestation and lactation has no measurable consequences on the fetus and newborn infant. Pregnant mothers, however, should be advised to consume coffee and caffeinated beverages in moderation, especially because of the prolonged half-life of caffeine both during the last trimester of pregnancy and in the newborn infant.

Dev Pharmacol Ther. 1985;8(6):355-63.

Effect of maternal caffeine consumption on heart rate and sleep time of breast-fed infants.

Ryu JE.


Eleven mother-infant pairs were studied to determine the effect of maternal caffeine ingestion (500 mg/day) on heart rate and sleep time of the infants. In a balanced cross-over design, mothers ingested 5 cups of decaffeinated coffee daily during one 5-day period and 5 cups of decaffeinated coffee with added caffeine (100 mg/cup) during another 5-day period. Concentrations of caffeine in milk on the last day of the caffeine period ranged from 1.6 to 6.2 micrograms/ml and the intake of caffeine by the infants was estimated to be 0.3-1.0 mg/kg/day. Infant serum did not contain detectable amounts of caffeine on the last day of either experimental period. Performance during the caffeine and no-caffeine periods was not significantly different with respect to either 24-hour heart rate or sleep time.

J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 1994;23(3):241-56.

[Effects of coffee and caffeine on fertility, reproduction, lactation, and development. Review of human and animal data].

[Article in French]

Nehlig A1, Debry G.

Author information


In the present review, we have examined the effects of coffee ingestion on fertility, reproduction, lactation and development. The potential effects of coffee consumption on fertility, spontaneous abortion and prematurity are not clearly established but appear to be quite limited. In rodents, caffeine can induce malformations but this effect appears in general at doses never encountered in humans. Indeed, as soon as the quantity of caffeine is divided over the day, as is the case for human consumption, the teratogenic effect of caffeine disappears in rodents. Coffee ingested during gestation induces a dose-dependent decrease in birth weight, but usually only when ingested amounts are high (i.e. more than 7 cups/day), whereas coffee has no effect at moderate doses. Caffeine consumption during gestation affects hematologic parameters of the new-born infant or rat. In animals, caffeine induces long-term consequences on sleep, locomotion, learning abilities, emotivity and anxiety, whereas, in children, the effects of early exposure to coffee and caffeine on behavior are not clearly established. The quantities of caffeine found in maternal milk vary with authors, but it appears clearly that caffeine does not change maternal milk composition and has a tendency to stimule milk production. In conclusion to this review, it appears that maternal coffee or caffeine consumption during gestation and/or lactation does not seem to have measurable consequences on the fetus of the newborn, as long as ingested quantities remain moderate. Therefore, pregnant mothers should be advised to limit their coffee and caffeine intake to 300 mg caffeine/day (i.e. 2-3 cups of coffee or 2.5-3 l of coke) especially because of the increase of caffeine half-life during the third trimester of pregnancy and in the neonate.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding moms can drink caffeine. Very little caffeine (0.6 to 1.5 percent of the amount you consume) is actually passed into your milk. That said, nursing moms should drink no more caffeine in a day than they would get in five 5-ounce cups of coffee (around 500 mg.) If you take in too much caffeine, it can accumulate in your baby’s system, resulting in overstimulation. A young or premature baby will be more affected by caffeine than an older baby. A high intake of caffeine also has the potential to affect your milk-ejection reflex. Caffeine levels peak about one hour after consumption. Caffeine has a long half-life. (Half-life is the amount of time it takes for the concentration of a drug in your system to be decreased by half.) In a newborn, caffeine has a half-life of about 96 hours, while it has a half-life of 14 hours in a 3- to 5-month-old baby. It takes about five half-lives for a drug to clear your system.

No Comments
Add Comment

Colic Infographic

Free infographic download. All the causes of an upset, crying, colicky baby. Leave your details below

Thank you! Please check your emails