You’ll want to know exactly how many cups you can have and what to look out for if your baby has caffeine sensitivity

There’s nothing that a morning cup of joe can’t fix—well, a crying newborn, but at least it’ll give you more energy to soothe them and go about your day. And you’re probably going to need all the fuel you can get while settling into new motherhood, whether you’re craving a gingerbread latte from Starbucks or an americano from your local coffee shop. But if you’re planning on bodyfeeding your baby, we’d guess there’s one big question on your mind: can you drink coffee while breastfeeding?

To get to the bottom of this, we asked the experts whether consuming caffeine while breastfeeding or chestfeeding is safe for both you and the baby—and exactly how much of that sweet, sweet energy juice you can have each day.

Can you drink coffee while breastfeeding or chestfeeding?

Breathe in a big sigh of relief because the answer is yes, you can drink coffee while nursing. Phew! What’s important is moderation and keeping an eye on your baby for any potential caffeine sensitivity, says Ashley Georgakopoulos, IBCLC, a certified lactation consultant and lactation director at Motif Medical.

How much coffee can you drink while breastfeeding?

You’re probably painfully aware of exactly how many cups you were allowed to drink while expecting, and the good news is you can have a little more once baby is on the outside. “During pregnancy, the recommendation is no more than 200 mg of caffeine a day,” says Dr. Denise Scott, a pediatrician and JustAnswer expert. “Caffeine intake while breastfeeding should be limited to 200-300 mg daily, which is equivalent to 2-3 cups of coffee.”

Georgakopoulos agrees, saying you should cap your caffeine intake at 300 mg per day. To put that into perspective, an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee has around 96 mg of caffeine, a cup of black tea contains 47 mg, a shot of espresso has 64 mg, and a can of Coca-Cola has 32 mg.

Every body reacts differently to caffeine, especially if you’ve weaned yourself off of it for pregnancy, so if you start to suspect that your Grande latte is messing with your sleep, consider drinking even less.

Do babies ever react to caffeine? What are the signs and symptoms?

The way a baby responds to your beloved java generally varies based on the individual. And while caffeine does pass into breastmilk, your baby only gets around 1.5% of the amount of caffeine that you drank, according to La Leche League Canada.

“Agitation, crankiness, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and a change in stool are common side effects that a mother might see in her baby,” explains Nicole Peluso, IBCLC, who manages lactation education at Aeroflow Breastpumps. “Some caffeine side effects are more difficult for a mother to observe in her baby, such as heart arrhythmias.” Peluso adds that this isn’t common, but if you notice any of these symptoms or feel like something isn’t right, you’ll want to consult your pediatrician to see what’s going on.

Related: Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?

Additionally, caffeine consumption may affect the quality of breastmilk. Coffee intake of more than 450 mL daily (approximately two cups) may decrease breastmilk iron concentrations and result in mild iron deficiency anemia in some breastfed infants, according to the Drugs and Lactation Database.

Since most babies are born with sufficient iron for their first six months of life, this isn’t usually a problem until they’re older, according to the CDC. After that time, breastmilk no longer provides sufficient iron, and even less so if you’re consuming tons of caffeine. So it’s best to keep your coffee in check while nursing and make sure your little is getting sufficient iron from solids.

Is it better to drink decaf coffee while breastfeeding?

Most decaffeinated coffee still has caffeine in it but much less than traditional black coffee or espresso. According to La Leche League Canada, a 250 ml cup (8 oz.) of decaffeinated coffee contains between 3 and 15 mg of caffeine. This means you can either have more coffee throughout the day or enjoy your usual amount of coffee with significantly less caffeine, limiting the chance of any negative side effects. But it’s totally up to each parent since experts agree that drinking some regular coffee isn’t a concern.

What is the best time of day to have caffeine while nursing?

You’ll want to have your caffeinated beverage a few hours before you intend to breastfeed. “Caffeine peaks in the breastmilk an hour after consumption, so if you enjoy your cup a few hours before breastfeeding, that will help keep taste changes (and caffeine content) to a minimum,” says Dr. Navya Mysore, primary care doctor in New York City.

Additionally, Peluso adds that opting to drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages in the morning (before noon) will give both mom and baby the best chance of getting restful nighttime sleep. It’s also a good idea to limit caffeine intake when your baby is cluster feeding since there’s less time between feeds and this usually happens at night.

Are the guidelines different for newborns and premature babies?

“Babies who are premature, under six months, or have other health issues may be more likely to be sensitive to caffeine compared to older babies as they take longer to clear caffeine from their system,” says Dr. Mysore.

Caffeine guidelines are the same across the board, but remember that every baby is different, and if you suspect that yours might be sensitive to caffeine give your doctor a call to discuss decreasing your consumption.

What other foods and beverages contain caffeine?

To keep your total daily caffeine intake in check while breastfeeding, here’s a list of some other sources of caffeine, some of which you may not have realized:

  • White and green teas (15-39 mg for 8 oz.)
  • Soft drinks (30-35 mg for 8 oz.)
  • Dark chocolate bar (80 mg caffeine per bar)
  • Energy drinks (70 mg for 8 oz.)
  • Yerba mate or guarana (85 mg for 8 oz.)
  • Some over-the-counter medications (like pain relievers, cold remedies, and diuretics) also contain caffeine.

You can rest assured that no one is coming to pry that lukewarm cup of coffee out of your deeply exhausted hands. Just stick to the recommended amount, watch your little for signs of sensitivity, and check in with your pediatrician if you think something’s not right.

Your daily dose of joy and connection
Get the Tinybeans app