Caffeine & Breastfeeding

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Does anyone know how long it takes for caffeine to leave your system? How bad is it to drink coffee while breastfeeding?
I don't know the answers to your questions, but I can tell you that I restarted drinking caffeine when my son (now six months) was about 2 months old. We live near a Peet's and we created a morning routine of going for a walk every morning to the coffee shop when he was about a week old. My baby does not mind caffeine, but some babies do. I drink one cup (or less) a day. I suggest you see how your baby handles it before you make any decisions about whether or not you need to schedule feedings around your caffeine intake (or vice versa). However, if you go to the La Leche League webpage:, you can probably find out the answers to your questions.


Any idea when I can sneak in a Diet Coke without feeding my 11 month old a shot of caffeine? How long does it take for caffeine to make it into and out of breast milk? Thanks.
I don't know the exact stats for how long it takes for Caffeine to be processed, or even, for that matter, whether it actually makes it into the breast milk. But the rule of thumb that I always used if I had any question about it, was to ingest the caffeine (or alcohol, whatever you're concerned about), immediately AFTER breastfeeding the baby. This means that your child will get untainted milk, and there will be the longest possible time for it to be processed through your body before the next nursing session. This will work OK for kids who are nursing at least 2 hours apart. I suspect you are out of luck if they are one of those nurse-all-the-time kids. As I recall, the thing to be concerned about with caffeine, though, is not necessarily the effect it would have on the baby, but rather the effect it might have on your milk supply--I think it might decrease the supply. Check the nursing books on this one (The Motherly Art of Breasfeeding, for instance).
Good luck! Dawn
From what I know, the ability to metabolize caffeine develops by three- or four-and-a-half months of age. (Before that age, caffeine may accumulate and potentially result in toxicity.) After drinking, say, a cup of coffee, the caffeine level in breast milk is low, only about 1% of the level in the mother's plasma -- I'm almost certain that coke contains less caffeine than coffee. I think, actually, I'd be far more concerned with giving the kid a shot of aspartame -- or the components it breaks down into, including methanol, which further breaks down into formaldehyde. Even a casual web search will turn up all sorts of alarming medical references to the problems caused by it. Although it is one of the most studied food additives in use, it's one I've always steered clear of.
I don't have any idea about the caffeine levels of post-diet coke breast milk, but I was told by my pediatrician to be much more concerned about the Nutrasweet in diet sodas than about the caffeine in my coffee...
Your best bet (as I understand it) is to drink it either while or just before you nurse. I drank even fairly strong coffee while nursing and never noticed any effect on my baby. (Not large quantities, just a cup here or there). It's nowhere near like the effect substances have on a developing fetus. You can also have a drink (alcohol) the same way. (Admittedly doesn't look that great to be swigging down a beer while the baby is nursing, but it hurts no one.)
I did not see the original post on this topic, but, from the context assume that you are wondering about using caffeine while nursing. My advice would be absolutely no. Caffeine is a very strong stimulant, totally underestimated in American culture because of its pervasive influence. It's pervasiveness is due to its addictive qualities. If you are talking about the occasional green tea, it can be beneficial, but frequent or regular cups of coffee (or soda) have no place in a healthy diet. It depletes the adrenal glands by overstimulation; it is oily; taxes the liver, the stomach, and the bowels; is linked to chronic muscle and joint pain as well as migraine headaches. In children, I believe it would definitely increase hyperactivity. Dont mean to rant, but have had to detox several times from coffee use. I am studying herbal medicine as well, and in 50% of diagnosis, eliminating coffee use is the first recommendation.
There is a great book that every nursing mom should have (or have access to) called Medications and Mother's Milk by Dr. Thomas Hale. (You can purchase it on line through Amazon.) It uses knowledge about how medications are used by the body, and how the body makes milk to determine how much (if any) of the medicine gets into the breastmilk and determine it's effects on the nursling. Here is an exerpt of what it says for caffine:

Caffine: Approved by AAP for use in bf mothers.

Only limited amounts are secreted into breast milk. Caffeine levels secreted into breast milk average approx 1-2 mg per day.

Peak levels of caffeine are found in breast milk 60 minutes after ingestion. The ave daily dose received by infants is estimated to be less than 3mg/kg/day in light to moderate users and generally averages 0.06 to 0.15% of the caffeine found in breast milk. These concentrations are well below the doses used in neonatal units for treating neonatal apnea. Irritability and insomnia may occur and have been reported. Occasional use of caffeine is not contraindicated, but persistent, chronic use may lead to high plasma levels in an infant during the neonatal period.

Pediatric Half Life PHL=80 hours (newborn), 97.5 hours (neonate), 2.6 hours (6 month old).

Pediatric Concerns: Rarely, irritability and insomnia. Adult Half Life=4.9 hours, Peak 60 min.

So, basically you can safely drink caffine while nursing, especially an 11 month old. If you are concerned or if your child seems to react to it when you nurse right after imbibing a caffinated beverage, try waiting first until after the 60 min peak, if that doesn't work for your baby, wait until 5 hrs have passed before nursing.