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Baby Sensitive to Caffeine? How to Handle as a Nursing Mom

Mom Sipping Hot Cocoa or Coffee

Nursing moms rejoice! Research says a little caffeine is okay for a nursing mom. What’s a little? Three hundred milligrams or less per day. But what about moms who have babies that seem to be intolerant to caffeine? There’s hope for you as well. Focus on the adage “less is more.” If you imbibe in much less caffeine, and if the timing is just right, you might be able to consume at least a little of the chocolate or coffee you love.

Timing Is Everything: When to Have Caffeine While Breastfeeding

Drink your caffeine or nibble your (small amount of) chocolate in the morning. Doing so will allow for plenty of time for your body to work the caffeine into and out of your breastmilk. Ditto for the caffeine working through baby. This way, by bedtime, you will be sound asleep. 

Of course, if you find you are not sleeping and suspect it is the caffeine, skip it the next day. If you find dropping the caffeine didn’t help, try another day without. It may take 3 days to really see a difference. However, if you are having sleep problems with your little one already, and caffeine isn’t the culprit, reach out to get some sleep help. Clearly, as a sleep consultant, good sleep is what I consider one of the top priorities in life. Never skimp on good sleep!

What About the Sugar?

Be sure your caffeine choices are choices that include less sugar, or no sugar at all. For example, a small cup of coffee with a large pour of the milk of your choice is likely to satisfy your coffee craving. If you need a little sweetener, consider a tiny drop of maple, date, or coconut sugar. If it is chocolate you crave, enjoy a square or two of the darkest chocolate you enjoy, as tolerated by baby. Have it with your breakfast, or right after breakfast. Be sure it is sweetened with a low-glycemic sugar, such as the ones noted above and the ones included in the chocolates I share below.

Another yummy option is your own homemade hot cocoa. Never use a premixed hot cocoa option. They are usually laden with sugar and sometimes a great deal of salt as well.

My Healthy Hot Cocoa Recipe

Here’s my hot cocoa recipe. It will likely satisfy your chocolate craving but not drive your baby away from sleep.

Heat one cup of milk of your choice. I like ½ soy and ½ cow or goat milk. 

Using a milk frother (I like this manual one) or small whisk, whisk in 1 tablespoon raw cacao. Add more or less to taste, but recall the goal is a little caffeine, not a jolt.

Slowly add a little honey or agave (or other low-glycemic sugar of your choice). Try 1/2 teaspoon as your starting place. Add a little more until you find your sweet spot. Make your ultimate goal no more than 1 teaspoon of sweetener, if possible. It takes time to change our taste buds. 

Keep whisking until the milk is good and warm. Pour it lovingly into your favorite cup or mug and sip and savor your healthy, goodness-filled drink.

Savor the Experience

Portion the chocolate into one square portions and set out the amount you are trying or know you both can tolerate. 

Place the chocolate in a beautiful little dish. 

Pour the coffee into a sweet little cup that makes you smile when you hold it. Even froth the milk a bit, if you have time, and enjoy the extra creamy warmth.

Take time to be mindful of your experience as you sip or nibble very slowly. Think of the experience as a reward for being good about reducing your caffeine intake. Savor your discipline in allowing yourself a little caffeine instead of guzzling down a big cup of coffee or eating a large piece of chocolate. Enjoy your treat. 

Consider telling your baby all about the attributes of what you are eating or drinking as a way to slow yourself down. Talking to your baby will likely keep baby happy and as a result will probably allow you more time to enjoy your cuppa or bites. You’ll be creating a happy momma and happy baby moment! Plus, talking to baby time is brain development time.

Find the Chocolate or Coffee That Is Best for You and Baby

I always vouch for local and sustainable. The companies I include here are all on the West Coast, have ethical ingredients, and care about the planet. You might have a different company you love. If so, find their best bar and enjoy it.

A good low-glycemic option is Coracao Chocolate. Their 81% bar is packed with flavor and only contains 2 grams of sugar in two generous squares. This is my highly recommended bar for low glycemic and decadent. It has a lovely flavor and satisfying snap. Coracao also has a 100% bar and a 70%. Both are excellent options.

Another zero-sugar option is Dandelion’s 100% chocolate bar. This is my favorite 100% bar. It still has a nice natural sweetness but lacks the bitterness some bars exude. Be prepared though, it is still a stronger option and may require a little time to fall in love with. The 100% option is a bring on the chocolate chocolate experience.

Can’t have coffee or chocolate? Try Wild Rose Hot Cocoa lip balm. I know, a lip balm sounds like a complete letdown, but it is not! A few well-placed sniffs of this lip balm will send you to chocolate heaven. You don’t even have to wear the stuff, but you can and you can rest assured that the product is safe for your baby, you, and the planet.

Try It for Yourself

You can (most likely) enjoy the coffee and chocolate treats you love if you get the timing and products right. Get ready to enjoy your caffeine! As always, if you are struggling with sleep or parenting, reach out for help. Teresa4changes is all about making changes that help parents find parenting tools that work for them and that lead to getting the desired sleep and cooperation.

Note: this blog, like all other blogs, is never a substitute for common sense and doctor’s input.

Want Some Science to Go With Your Caffeine?

“Chocolate” in the National Center for Biotechnology Drugs and Lactation database. Watch out, the database might turn into one of those internet rabbit holes for you. 

“Will Caffeine Affect My Baby?” La Leche League International 

“How Too Much Added Sugar Affects Your Health” American Heart Association 

“From Mother to Baby: ‘Secondhand Sugars’ Can Pass Through Breast Milk” USC

650-303-8728 | teresa@teresa4changes.com