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Can You Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding? Safe Caffeine Limit

mother breastfeeding newborn baby while drinking coffee

Ah, coffee. Nectar of the gods and vital to staying awake—particularly if you are a mom with a new baby and a crazy sleep schedule. The caffeine found in coffee may be the only thing getting us through the day at times, but is it safe to consume while breastfeeding? After all, coffee is a stimulant, so how much of it will be passed on to your little one?

If you’ve been wondering if you can drink coffee while breastfeeding, you’ll be relieved to know that the answer is yes!

But (there’s always a but), you can only drink it in limited amounts. And if your baby turns out to be super sensitive to the small amounts they receive from your breast milk, you’ll need to make some tweaks to when you feed your child (or temporarily abstain from coffee).

Here’s the lowdown on drinking coffee while breastfeeding, including how much is safe to consume, how much gets passed on via breast milk, signs your little one is sensitive to caffeine, and what to do if they are.

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How Much Coffee Is Safe to Consume While Breastfeeding?

According to the CDC, caffeine intake for nursing moms should be limited to 300 mg or less per day (roughly 2–3 cups of coffee). Roughly 1% of the caffeine you consume while breastfeeding then passes on to your baby—which doesn’t sound like a lot, right? However, babies aren’t able to process caffeine as quickly as adults, so the stimulant stays in their system for longer. For newborns, caffeine sticks around for a few days, while babies around 6 months old will only have caffeine remain in their system for about 2 ½ hours, about the same as the average adult.

So, more than 300 mg of caffeine a day might not be great for your child. It may also not be great for you either. If you over-caffeinate, you could experience anxiety, insomnia, rapid heart rate, jitteriness, and more. No one needs that at the best of times, much less when dealing with a newborn!

a woman in brown robe holding a cup of coffee
Image Credit: Arina Krasnikova, Pexels

How Do I Know If My Baby Is Sensitive to Caffeine?

If your baby is susceptible to caffeine, you’ll see one or more of the following signs:

  • Restlessness
  • Fussiness
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep

If you think your little one isn’t handling the caffeine well, you don’t necessarily have to abstain from coffee. Instead, you could try:

  • Reducing the amount of coffee you’re drinking (say, from 3 cups a day to 1 cup) to see if that fixes the issue
  • Feeding the baby before you drink coffee. Drink your coffee after feeding, then wait at least 3 hours before feeding again, so the caffeine is out of your system.

But if neither of these helps get your baby back on track, you’ll likely need to take a sabbatical from the coffee.

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Drinking coffee while breastfeeding is perfectly safe for your baby. But you will need to limit the amount of caffeine you consume each day to 300 mg or less. There’s also a chance your little one may be more sensitive to caffeine (newborns especially), which means the amount of caffeine they receive via breast milk could make them restless or fussy. If that happens, reduce your caffeine consumption or feed your baby before you drink your coffee. And if those don’t help, then, unfortunately, you’ll likely need to go caffeine-free for a bit.

Featured Image Credit: Dmitry Naumov, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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