Caffeine in the Diet
Caffeine is found in drinks such as coffee, soda, and tea. It is also found in lesser amounts in foods such as chocolate. Many people consume caffeine on a daily basis. Nursing mothers often have to sacrifice certain substances for the health of their babies but for many it is hard to eliminate all sources of caffeine in the diet, even during the months that they are breastfeeding.
Caffeine and Breastfeeding
The good news is that nursing mothers do not have to completely give up caffeinated foods and beverages while breastfeeding. It is safe enough for the baby if a mother consumes food and drink containing caffeine in moderation. In fact, only a small amount of caffeine, approximately 1 percent, enters into breast milk form the mother’s body. Caffeine intake in mothers will not reduce the quantity or quality of breast milk in any other way. It is recommended that breastfeeding mothers limit their caffeine intake to 300 mg. per day. This is approximately equivalent to 2 cups of regular home-brewed coffee or 4 cups of tea. It is important for nursing mothers to take into account other foods, supplements, and medications used that might contain caffeine as well when calculating daily caffeine limits.
Caffeine and Infants
Although the amount of caffeine that enters breast milk is slight, it might still affect infants. Since infants are unable to properly metabolize caffeine, it can build up in their systems and cause symptoms related to caffeine stimulation. Once infants reach about 3 to 4 months of age, they begin to be able to metabolize caffeine to remove it from the body. Every infant is unique and will react to caffeine differently, so it is important for nursing mothers to adjust their caffeine intake based on the personal needs of their infant.
Caffeine Sensitive Infants
Some infants are more sensitive to caffeine and breastfeeding than others. This is especially true for infants who are premature or who have certain illnesses. If a nursing mother avoided foods and beverages with caffeine during her pregnancy, it is also more likely that her infant will have an increased risk for a caffeine sensitivity. Infants who are sensitive to caffeine might seem to be alert, fussy, or sleep for only short periods of time. Nursing mothers should avoid caffeine consumption if their infants appear sensitive to caffeine. Most infants will grow out of this as they mature and their bodies can process caffeine more effectively, so just because an infant is currently sensitive to caffeine does not mean they will be a few months down the road.