The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women breastfeed infants for at least the first six months of life and for twelve months if possible. Much of what a mother eats becomes incorporated in breast milk, so it is important to consider the impact of coffee drinking on your infant.

This is particularly important because a newborn baby and developing infant’s digestive system and liver are still immature and are unable to detoxify caffeine efficiently. While some sources are silent about caffeine (such as the American Academy of Pediatrics), other researchers suggest that breastfeeding mothers should limit caffeine intake. 

Do You Want Your Breast Milk with or without Caffeine?

What a woman eats or drinks becomes part of breast milk. Studies show that this is true of caffeine. Caffeine becomes a component of breast milk, even as quickly as half an hour after consumption. (Stavchansky, et al, 1988) Caffeine has been detected in breast milk even up to five days (80 to 125 hours) after a woman has ingested it. (Ryu, 1985)

  • Caffeine has a prolonged half-life in infants, meaning that the time it takes to detoxify and clear caffeine from the body takes much longer. (Nehlig and Debry, 1994) This is in part because the systems in the infant’s body responsible for this (including the gastrointestinal tract and particularly the liver and kidneys) are still developing. The enzymatic pathways specific for metabolizing caffeine doesn’t reach maturity until the first seven to nine months after birth. (Cazeneuve, et al, 1994)
  • Even though caffeine has been shown to stimulate breast milk production (Nehlig and Debry, 1994), the effects of caffeine on the nursing infant should be considered. Caffeine-free herbal teas can also help stimulate breast milk production.

References (by alphabetical order)

Cazeneuve, C., Pons, G., Rey, E., Treluyer, J.-M., Cresteil, T., Thiroux, G., D’Athis, P. and Olive, G. 1994. Biotransformation of caffeine in human liver microsomes from fetuses, neonates, infants and adults. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 37: 405-12.

Nehlig, A. and Debry, G. 1994. Consequences on the newborn of chronic maternal consumption of coffee during gestation and lactation: a review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 13(1): 6-21.

Ryu, J.E. 1985. Caffeine in human milk and in serum of breast-fed infants. Developmental pharmacology and therapeutics. 8 (6):329-37.

Stavchansky, S., Combs, A., Sagraves, R., Delgado, M. and Joshi, A. 1988. Pharmacokinetics of caffeine in breast milk and plasma after single oral administration of caffeine to lactating mothers. Biopharmaceutics & drug disposition 9(3): 285-99.